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EmpowerX: Empowering youth with skills for a better future in the digital economy

EmpowerX is a skills accelerator that trains the youth in soft, digital and business skills to connect them to global digital economy.

Photo of Saad Hamid
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

EmpowerX is an accelerated learning program through which the youth can learn skills of the future to find better jobs as freelancers and connect to online job marketplace and/or get enabled enough to launch their own businesses. The idea of EmpowerX is based on the concept that with increasing digital economy around the world, there is an increase in the demand of digital skills and therefore we are training the youth in these skills so they are able to connect with the international online job market. The model has been very successful in South Asia and therefore we want to use the same model and apply it in Kenya to make the youth active contributors to the digital economy. Our theory of change is to empower the youth through digital skills and entrepreneurship and we are doing that by training them in 3 major areas such as (1) soft skills (2) digital skills and (3) business skills Soft skills are skills that are needed by employers such as good communication, decision making, showing commitment, time management, creativity, leadership and problem solving. Digital skills are the skills of the future that give the youth competitive edge such as learning how to build a website, designing, data analysis, virtual assistance, content writing, digital marketing etc. Business skills are the skills required to launch a business such as entrepreneurship, freelancing, team management, project management, marketing, finance, legal etc.

WHO BENEFITS?

This program is targeted towards the youth aged 20-35 and offers a well structured approach to training the youth through different levels of skills. The outcome of the program is to create empowered individuals who are active contributors to the digital economy. Here we want to take the opportunity to share the story of Kashif who is one of the beneficiaries of our program from Pakistan.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Emerging Leaders Foundation and School of Skills. Emerging Leaders Foundation is a Kenyan leadership platform for the youth that has reached over 6000 youth and School of Skills is a global online platform to learn skills for a better future.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

There are three major ways in which the idea has really improved. 1. We have learned most of the unemployed youth has some sort of formal education but they do not posses any relevant digital skills and this is one of the great learning for our program. Now, instead of focusing on the hardcore digital skills, our program will now put its focus toward beginner to intermediate level digital skills which are relatively easy to learn in a shorter period of time as this will result in the users being able to go online and find jobs faster.
 2. Another big learning for us was to realise from feedback that teaching the youth digital skills only does not help much. Therefore the true way to empower them is to create an-to-end cycle and get partners on board who would employ people who are trained through our program. For this we built a prototype marketplace platform called "SkillsForce" http://skillsforce.co 3. Initially we planned to run this training online (http://schoolofskills.co) but talking to beneficiaries has made us realise that we need to run a blended course with both components of online and offline instruction so we are changing the mode of instruction.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

User driven Approach: Our solution is focused around the user. Most of the ideas out there in similar domain are mostly just market driven but we are trying to create a balance in which we not only see the demand for the digital skills in the global market but also try to understand the needs, abilities and circumstances of our users/beneficiaries so we can create a solution that is very user focused. Market Knowledge & Partnerships: We have the benefit that we are not just trying to create a skills training program (we know many out there have tried similar things already). Our goal is to create a complete end-to-end solution in which not only do we train the young people but also offer the pool of trained freelancers to companies around the world for impact talent sourcing. Thus guaranteeing them jobs! One of the advantages we have is that we are doing this project as a partnership between Emerging Leaders Foundation (ELF) and School of Skills (SOS) and that gives us knowledge, experience of the geographic location, the people as well as the digital ecosystem and markets.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Lets be honest - Digital skills training is not something entirely new. Bigger organization like Rockeffler Foundation and Google have taken a jab at providing digital learning programs for the youth of Africa. However, such programs, miss out on the fact that teaching digital skills to the youth is just half of the solution and the other half is about creating an opportunity for the youth in form of connections to the global market and building their capacity by teaching them other skills like soft skills and business skills to make them capable enough to find jobs and become online entrepreneurs.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Going forward, we are curious to explore the following questions: How fast the youth will be able to learn the skills through the program and also what kind and level of digital skills become more popular for the Kenyan youth as compared to other? Also we are thinking what would be global market’s response to this. Because of IT boom in South Asia, young freelancers in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh have predominantly owned the global digital services market for over a few decades with almost 5-10 million freelance providers. Therefore we are curious to see the reaction of global sources towards East Africa youth in the digital marketplace since this is something new for them.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Saad Hamid of School of Skills in Pakistan and Caren Wakoli of Emerging Leaders Foundation in Kenya. Saad has been working in this domain for over a decade trying to understand the role of internet in helping youth become a part of the digital economy. Saad himself is one of the top freelancers from Pakistan and has previous served as the Country Representative for Upwork in Pakistan so he understands the domain more than anyone else and has built a reputation over time training as many as 5,000+ freelancers. Based on his contributions and validations, the same idea was adopted in form of ‘E-rozgaar’ by the Punjab Government and ‘Youth Employment Program’ by the KP Government. While the idea has been tested in Pakistan already, Kenya is a whole new market which will come with its own challenges and opportunities so we hope to explore that with support from Emerging Leaders Foundation.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

EmpowerX is a collaboration between Saad Hamid of School of Skills in Pakistan and Caren Wakoli of Emerging Leaders Foundation in Kenya. Being Acumen fellows - they share common values and vision. For this project, School of Skills will be responsible for developing the curriculum, the online platform and delivering the trainings to the participants while Emerging Leaders Foundations will act as the field partner providing on-ground support and interaction with beneficiaries.

The opportunity

Similar to Pakistan, Kenya’s youth bulge is a ‘ticking time bomb’ with over 80% of unemployed Kenyans below 35 years of age and while the government is unable to meet the needs of creating jobs, we see there is an opportunity to engage youth and have them learn digital skills that will connect them to the global market and make them active contributors to the Kenyan digital economy

The idea of EmpowerX is based on the concept that with increasing digital economy around the world, there is an increase in the demand of digital skills and therefore we are training the youth in these skills so they are able to connect with the international online job market.

The model has been very successful in South Asia and therefore we want to use the same model and apply it in Kenya to make the youth active contributors to the digital economy.

The idea

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Our theory of change is to empower the youth through digital skills and entrepreneurship and we are doing that by training them in 3 major areas such as (1) soft skills (2) digital skills and (3) business skills

Soft skills are skills that are needed by employers such as good communication, decision making, showing commitment, time management, creativity, leadership and problem solving.

Digital skills are the skills of the future that give the youth competitive edge such as learning how to build a website, designing, data analysis, virtual assistance, content writing, digital marketing etc.

Business skills are the skills required to launch a business such as entrepreneurship, freelancing, team management, project management, marketing, finance, legal etc.

The outcome of the program is to create empowered individuals who are active contributors to the digital economy either as freelancers or business starters.

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The collaboration

The pilot will be implemented by Emerging Leaders Foundation in Nairobi with operational expertise and support from School of Skills.

Saad Hamid is the founder of School of Skills and a digital ecosystem builder from Pakistan who specializes in creating programs that create opportunities for the youth and help them become active contributors to the digital economy. He’s previously been affiliated with Upwork, the world’s largest freelancing platform as their Country Representative for Pakistan. The e-skills program developed by Saad have been endorsed by the World Bank and adopted by Pakistan’s provincial governments in Punjab and KP. He is an Acumen Fellow, TED-Ed fellow and a Google Developer Expert. Saad has also worked with IDEO.org as the Global Facilitator for Amplify Challenges.

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Caren Wakoli is an emerging leader in East Africa who has launched a foundation to support the next generation of leaders for Africa. She’s currently serving as the founder of Emerging Leaders Foundation which operates in Kenya and has trained as many as 6,000 youth on mentorship and leadership.

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Saad and Caren are both part of the Acumen Fellows community!

The success

We have seen how this program has done wonders for the youth in Pakistan and we think we have a great opportunity here to replicate the success in Nairobi which has a growing youth population and digital economy just like Pakistan.

Here we want to take the opportunity to introduce you to Kashif who has gladly agreed to share his story with you.

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SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

Our hope is to see a domino effect with this project which will create a whole new generation of online entrepreneurs in Kenya who will be active contributors to the digital economy, not just as freelancers, but as entrepreneurs. Similar to how this project turned out in Pakistan, we hope to see that these entrepreneurs in Kenya will become the backbone of IT industry of Kenya by creating opportunity for the youth in terms of jobs and employment.

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Less than 6 months

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

We see this a great opportunity to connect with the Amplify network to further build knowledge and partnerships in this domain where international development practitioners are coming together to use human centered design for social impact. Also, we see this a window of opportunity to experiment and find out whether one idea that has been successfully tested in one part of the world can be replicated in another part of the world.

Attachments (1)

EmpowerX User Experience Map.pdf

Here's a visualisation of how the youth discovers us and how we take them through the training cycle eventually helping them find jobs.

This inspired (1)

Go Nativo

72 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Rosen Petkov
Team

How could you inspire the youth? How can you insure the parent of that child that this is safe path to study? It seems like a very interesting idea.

Photo of Maurice Omondi
Team

The idea has really improved in quality. Thanks for elaborating on the comments I had made. Best luck

Photo of Maha Rehman
Team

Interesting! What is the palette of courses offered/planned? Where can I get more details? 

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Maha Rehman We have updated our submission to add in a detailed list of courses/modules.

Photo of Maurice Omondi
Team

This is a great idea and a real game changer that can bring real  and positive change to young people in Kenya and Pakistan. Below are some comments for you to consider to improve on the project idea.


1. Could please define your target group better by defining their geographical location, background etc. how many are we targeting and how will we select them?. In addition to solving the unemployment problem, can we also add some aspect of learning, knowledge generation and cross cultural exchange?


2. Can you elaborate a bit more about yourself and what inspires you; then about the organizations you represent and the kind of impact it has had in the world. If possible, site some people who can vouch for you in the different countries you exist


3. I guess the idea will be implemented in Kenya and in Pakistan. In both areas, define the target population. Are they from the disadvantaged groups e.g. from the low income areas? Or unemployed graduates who are looking for skills to better equip them


4. Elaborate on similar experience explaining how it worked and what we are planning to do differently


5. Considering that many youth now have smart phones, how can we transfer the concept to smart phones e.g. an application for learning on the go. I guess that is the aspect that has not yet been solved by previous interventions. I guess this idea can answer the problem of getting quality skills through a mobile device. Let’s think of a combination between formal classroom and virtual classroom through a phone.


6. To increase uniqueness, bring aspects of cost reduction and disruption of the existing models. For example, how can people with very little education use the model and how do they get some sought of reward or certification


7. Considering ELF will implement the project in Kenya, kindly share the ELF mentoring approach in brief

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Woow! Maurice Omondi you raise very pertinent issues! Thanks alot for your feedback. Let me clarify this a little more - the project has already been implemented in Pakistan by School of Skills  and it its very successful. So we plan to replicate this in Kenya, but taking into consideration the unique demographics and variables about Kenya and her young people.

Kindly look through the project narrative again, as it answers most of your questions. For instance, The target audience is youth between 20 - 35 years.
And the beauty is that as we implement, we will have some learnings along the way that will enable us to improve on the project.

Concerning the ELF mentorship project, it is a six month program that is practical, field oriented and is more focused on face to face interaction and mentorship. Placements and linkages are also key. Saad Hamid will respond on how this has worked in Pakistan.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Thank you Maurice Omondi for your valid concerns and observations. I have tried to sum up my responses below:


1. Could please define your target group better by defining their geographical location, background etc. how many are we targeting and how will we select them?. In addition to solving the unemployment problem, can we also add some aspect of learning, knowledge generation and cross cultural exchange?

Our hope is to target young people at 20-35 years of age and mostly settled in the urban areas so they have access to education and technology. We will be using the networks created by our on ground partner in Nairobi to help us reach out to this audience and shortlist the most relevant candidates for this program. At the moment this program focuses on skill learning and helping the young people find jobs through technology.

2. Can you elaborate a bit more about yourself and what inspires you; then about the organizations you represent and the kind of impact it has had in the world. If possible, site some people who can vouch for you in the different countries you exist

Almost a decade ago a few kids in Pakistan discovered that they can use the internet to learn skills and make money of their own. I was one of these kids! My story started almost 10 years ago when I launched one of the most successful websites on the internet and made millions in revenue and that inspired me to later on launch this program so I can create thousand other individuals like myself.

You can read up more on the younger version of me in this interview: http://www.retireat21.com/interview/interview-with-saad-hamid-founder-of-sizlopedia

Today, I am just a guy who is trying to bridge the world of technology and impact.

3. I guess the idea will be implemented in Kenya and in Pakistan. In both areas, define the target population. Are they from the disadvantaged groups e.g. from the low income areas? Or unemployed graduates who are looking for skills to better equip them

Our focus is urban youth who are have access to education, knowledge and internet but are unemployed and looking for opportunities.

4. Elaborate on similar experience explaining how it worked and what we are planning to do differently

We have run numerous similar programs in Pakistan which produced thousands of successful students over the course of years. Even the government came in and adopted our program. We have included the case-study of one of our success stories, Kashif Taj, who is now earning 300% more after going through our program.


5. Considering that many youth now have smart phones, how can we transfer the concept to smart phones e.g. an application for learning on the go. I guess that is the aspect that has not yet been solved by previous interventions. I guess this idea can answer the problem of getting quality skills through a mobile device. Let’s think of a combination between formal classroom and virtual classroom through a phone.

You are right. This is a challenge that we have been trying to look at and honestly we are not sure that if smart phones are the solution. The learning of skills requires a very controlled environment and a lot of attention and smart phones are total opposite of this. To learn skills, soft or hardcore, requires one to go through a lot of experiential learning for which we believe computers/laptops are the best since they are meant for attentive learning and tasking and while we are very open to the idea of using technology and online platforms for learning skills, we are still not convinced if the same can be done with smart phones.


6. To increase uniqueness, bring aspects of cost reduction and disruption of the existing models. For example, how can people with very little education use the model and how do they get some sought of reward or certification

Noted - this is something we need to work on.

7. Considering ELF will implement the project in Kenya, kindly share the ELF mentoring approach in brief

ELF is the on ground partner for this event but all content, curriculum and other learning will be implemented by School of Skills.

Photo of Nelson G
Team

Many thanks for this excellent project idea. Well, two key areas caught my attention. You have highlighted pretty well that soft skills are needed by employers and you have outlined these to include (1) good communication, (2) decision making, (3) showing commitment, (4) time management, (5) creativity, (6)leadership and (7) problem solving - I believe among many others. Having gone through the idea (and not so much the comments). You have also highlighted that you are looking at the age group of 20 - 35. Well, I would like to find out why it appears you have not included 'Leadership" and "Decision Making" related sessions on your proposed training scope? Should I believe that these aspects might be dealt with elsewhere under different activities for your target group. Looking at the targeted age group, I believe leadership skills are also pretty vital.

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Nelson G for your feedback. Your comments are very vital and we do concur with you that leadership and decision making skills are key in terms of improving chances for one's employability. These will definitely be covered as part of the curriculum.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Nelson G I agree with you wholeheartedly that "leadership", "decision making" and many other such skills are important soft skills that should be added to the program. You are right in hoping that these skills will be covered in different activities throughout the program one way or the other. Also, because the skills you mentioned have a longer learning curve so we are still trying to figure out how to add this to our 4-week long curriculum but I am sure we will find a way.

Thanks for the suggestion and feedback.

Photo of Alphonse W. Mutua
Team

Wow, this sounds like the next big thing, the transformation path that we as a country need to take, my question would be, after the training on soft skills, business and digital skills then what? or rather, whats the plan after that? I mean, the youth may have the skills but the capitals to fund start ups, of to even just grow a business for the youth who have no guarantees or collateral becomes and issue. Whats the thought around this?

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Alphonse W. Mutua for your feedback. This program provides an end-to-end kind of a solution to the challenge of unemployment, and there will be linkages to mentors and institutions for support to the young people from the program to maximize the digital market opportunities.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

That's a very concern my friend Alphonse W. Mutua 

That's why we have designed an end-to-end solution which caters to all kinds of people graduating from this program. Through this skills accelerator, we hope to see 3 different categories of people graduating from the program.

(1) The first category is of those who learn skills and then are able to find jobs on their own through online job marketplace via websites and platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr etc.

(2) The second category is of those who stand out because of their high skill capability and quality of work and those will be invited to join our exclusive pool of skilled freelancers that we call ‘SkillsForce’. The individuals who become a part of SkillsForce will be given the opportunity to work with our curated pool of employers/clients around the world who believe in our idea of impact sourcing.

(3) The third category is of those who are not able to find success through online job marketplace or through SkillsForce and for such individuals we hope to create a peer-to-peer sourcing model in which these skilled freelancers will be connected local clients/employers through social media or will be guided further into launching an online business of their own.

Photo of Epa
Team

I have gone through the proposal and comments and here is my two cents.

1. The curriculum is interesting since universities do not teach some of the things mentioned even in IT courses. Could you guys provide a detailed curriculum in terms of content, learning outcomes and such.

2. The IT space is very large if we could be more specific with the particular areas and also provide some statistical justification in terms of how many jobs can be availed in that category and average income people are getting.

3. In terms of the target group you may wish to focus on form four leavers who are yet to join campus but want an extra skillset and also people in universities who clearly see the gap in the curriculum or those recently out of campus and unemployed. This three will present the easiest initial adopters to get the uptake to a critical mass.

4. Aim for the face to face section of the course to be delivered in high population residential areas. having a fare(bus fare) component will greatly reduce the number of students who come. Rongai, Eastlands, Thika road can be good places to start. Quite a number of youth and campuses around.

5. You can add content generation to your curriculum, videos on youtube are helping people build name for themselves cheaper than any other platform but personal branding and public speaking may be required.

6. Provide info on other platforms that offer complementing services by providing links. I have noticed people do not know of websites offering tutorials online eg codeacademy, tutsplus, lynda.com and the like. The digital space is wide and providing such info will help. Also local institutions that can offer advanced courses emobilis, moringa school etc especially in mobile programming.

7. The other aspect of such a platform is to provide linkages and networks for the participants, going online through several dev programs, the provision of a network was second most valued aspect of the training after learning. Pool people of similar skillsets/interests and see how they can link up in the digital space.

8. Ranking- online jobs due to lack of physical contact are dependent on trust, referrals and track record. The participants should be ranked according to how good they are to create competition and subsequently a good name for the program through excellent customer service from its alumni. This creates a forward validation aspect in that anyone who mentions is a trainee for the program gains through the track record of the others.

9. the students should also learn how tomonetize their talents and skills and their brand, this enables them to generate a better bargain than just the prevailing market rates.

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Epa we really do appreciate your comprehensive feedback! I assure you that we will put your suggestions into consideration as we plan to roll this out. Once again, thank you very much for taking time to go through this idea and share your feedback.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Epa Thank you so much for your feedback. I have some responses below:

1. The curriculum is interesting since universities do not teach some of the things mentioned even in IT courses. Could you guys provide a detailed curriculum in terms of content, learning outcomes and such.

We have shard an outline of the curriculum along with details of the modules that we are going to teach in our submission. Because this is experiential learning and also because of the fact that curriculum keeps changing rapidly with changing industry so we are unable to post the exact content here.

2. The IT space is very large if we could be more specific with the particular areas and also provide some statistical justification in terms of how many jobs can be availed in that category and average income people are getting.

The young people who graduate from our program will be making anywhere from $5/hour (minimum) to as much as $50/hour or even beyond based on what skills they choose to learn. This is where the market economics comes in and if the skill is harder to learn and has a high demand but low supply then a user can make the most income if they learn that particular skill.

3. In terms of the target group you may wish to focus on form four leavers who are yet to join campus but want an extra skillset and also people in universities who clearly see the gap in the curriculum or those recently out of campus and unemployed. This three will present the easiest initial adopters to get the uptake to a critical mass.

Noted. Thanks!

4. Aim for the face to face section of the course to be delivered in high population residential areas. having a fare(bus fare) component will greatly reduce the number of students who come. Rongai, Eastlands, Thika road can be good places to start. Quite a number of youth and campuses around.

Noted! We are hoping that our local partner on ground will be able to help with this.

5. You can add content generation to your curriculum, videos on youtube are helping people build name for themselves cheaper than any other platform but personal branding and public speaking may be required.

That's actually already a part of the curriculum.

6. Provide info on other platforms that offer complementing services by providing links. I have noticed people do not know of websites offering tutorials online eg codeacademy, tutsplus, http://lynda.com and the like. The digital space is wide and providing such info will help. Also local institutions that can offer advanced courses emobilis, moringa school etc especially in mobile programming.

7. The other aspect of such a platform is to provide linkages and networks for the participants, going online through several dev programs, the provision of a network was second most valued aspect of the training after learning. Pool people of similar skillsets/interests and see how they can link up in the digital space.

Noted! For this very purpose we actually built a prototype course on basics of online work which is available on our website http://schoolofskills.co

8. Ranking- online jobs due to lack of physical contact are dependent on trust, referrals and track record. The participants should be ranked according to how good they are to create competition and subsequently a good name for the program through excellent customer service from its alumni. This creates a forward validation aspect in that anyone who mentions is a trainee for the program gains through the track record of the others.

Love this idea - thanks.

9. the students should also learn how tomonetize their talents and skills and their brand, this enables them to generate a better bargain than just the prevailing market rates.

This is already a part of the curriculum.

Photo of Kashif Taj
Team

I can imagine the importance and outcomes of this project because I was a part of same project back in 2013 and that program not only intoduced me to the online world but showed me the road to the digital entrepreneurship as well .
I hope this project will launch soon in Nairobi and will change the luck of the youth their. All the best

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Thanks Kashif Taj - we have showcased your story here as an example to show everyone that it worked in Pakistan and we are hopeful that a similar program will work in Kenya too!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Saad and EmpowerX Team! Amplify and our experts have some notes and questions for your submission. We encourage you to reflect on this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea.

- We love that you are taking your insights and learnings from your existing program in Pakistan, want to transfer this to Kenya. This is an exciting and bold idea - well done!
- Do you have more evidence about some of the successes and failures this program encountered in Pakistan? What questions or hypotheses do you want to test to implement this idea in Kenya?
- What does the journey look like for your user after they complete the skills accelerator? Is there a path? How have you designed for this stewardship component of your idea?
- What are potential barriers to your participants? Have you designed some potential solutions around these obstacles? Are there required skills necessary in order to participate in the skills accelerator that would limit your potential audience?
- Why do you believe 4 weeks is sufficient time for your program? Have you tested different timeframe models? What works well and what doesn't?
- Tell us more about the sustainability of your program. How do you select participants? Will participants give back to the program after they graduate from the accelerator? How do you ensure that the curriculum is current and addresses the needs of your users?
- Do you have examples of students gaining employment after your program? Tell us about it! Or, even show us!
- Share with us more details about how the end-to-end solution will work for your program.

In case you missed it, OpenIDEO and Amplify hosted a Storytelling Office Hour - https://youtu.be/g0gZRR6T9tA. Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and help make it come to life! Don't forget - December 18th is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Thank you OpenIDEO  team for your feedback. We have tried to to pen down some of our thoughts below:

- We love that you are taking your insights and learnings from your existing program in Pakistan, want to transfer this to Kenya. This is an exciting and bold idea - well done!

Thank you. There is so much we learned from this program in Pakistan and we are hopeful we can bring the same learnings to Kenya with your help and support.

- Do you have more evidence about some of the successes and failures this program encountered in Pakistan? What questions or hypotheses do you want to test to implement this idea in Kenya?

I have tried to highlight some successes in the submission but in terms of failures I think one of the challenges that we faced while scaling up the program is to create a balance between demand and supply in the international freelance job market for some particular skills. For example, WordPress development is a skill which has high demand but it also has a high supply and because of market economics it becomes difficult for freelancers in this skill domain to find jobs due to high competition.

One of the big questions I have for the Kenyan market is whether the same digital skills which worked for the youth of Pakistan will work for the Kenyan youth in terms of helping them finding jobs online quickly or whether we will have to adopt a whole new strategy for this market in terms of the skills that we are teaching them.

Also keen to explore how Kenyan market responds to going through a blended program which comprises of online as well offline training sessions.

- What does the journey look like for your user after they complete the skills accelerator? Is there a path? How have you designed for this stewardship component of your idea?

Through this skills accelerator, we hope to see 3 different categories of people graduating from the program.

(1) The first category is of those who learn skills and then are able to find jobs on their own through online job marketplace via websites and platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr etc.

(2) The second category is of those who stand out because of their high skill capability and quality of work and those will be invited to join our exclusive pool of skilled freelancers that we call ‘SkillsForce’. The individuals who become a part of SkillsForce will be given the opportunity to work with our curated pool of employers/clients around the world who believe in our idea of impact sourcing.

(3) The third category is of those who are not able to find success through online job marketplace or through SkillsForce and for such individuals we hope to create a peer-to-peer sourcing model in which these skilled freelancers will be connected local clients/employers through social media or will be guided further into launching an online business of their own.

- What are potential barriers to your participants? Have you designed some potential solutions around these obstacles? Are there required skills necessary in order to participate in the skills accelerator that would limit your potential audience?

There are a couple of barriers that we anticipate and we have tried to design a solution around most of them:

1. Initially our aim was to open up this program only to individuals who already possessed intermediate to advanced level computer and internet skills such as knowing how to build a website, writing blog posts, creating apps etc but we realised that it would limit our potential audience and won’t allow us to reach the masses so we have now lowered the requirements that were acting as barriers. As of now the program only requires users to have basic knowledge of how to run a computer with internet and that’s it. They will be taught skills as they go through the program and this will give us an opportunity to open this up to a whole range of individuals.

2. The second potential barrier was to make sure that we are meeting the end goal by helping as many skilled individuals that graduate from our program to find jobs. Initially the solution only catered to individuals who were able to go online and find jobs on their own through freelancing platforms but now we have designed solutions that caters to all 3 different categories and we have also created a prototype platform called ‘SkillsForce’ that will help these individuals in finding jobs online.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

- Why do you believe 4 weeks is sufficient time for your program? Have you tested different timeframe models? What works well and what doesn't?

4 weeks or 1 month is the perfect sweet spot based on our experience in terms of learning basic to intermediate level digital skills. In our experience, a cohort for a skills accelerator has a range of individuals from slow learners to fast learners. We learned that running the program for a shorter period of time allowed the fast learners to start producing results quickly but it created a lot of peer pressure for the slow learners and their learning motivation would drop. Going beyond 4 weeks usually wouldn’t be helpful in teaching something new and becomes repetitive for the fast learners and since we preach a lot of peer-to-peer learning in our programs so we believe 4 weeks is just about the right time to manage a group of mixed individuals having both slow and fast learning traits.

However we are quite aware of the fact that while 4 weeks skills accelerator had worked for youth in Pakistan, it might be different for the youth of Kenya but we are pretty hopeful that the sweet spot for Kenya in terms of success for this skills accelerator would swing around this time frame more or less.

- Tell us more about the sustainability of your program. How do you select participants? Will participants give back to the program after they graduate from the accelerator? How do you ensure that the curriculum is current and addresses the needs of your users?

Like any other training program, this program will charge a training fee to the participants to keep the program running and keep it financially stable. We also want to explore a ‘loan’ or ‘give-back’ model in which successful participants get a loan to pay their cost for the program or sponsor the program for other individuals or give a donation to the enterprise to keep the operations running. Furthermore we want to explore partnerships and sponsorships with companies who would want to invest in the program not just as funders/well-wishers but also as potential employers. In Pakistan, the program was adopted by the World Bank and local Government that helped it scale immensely.

Our unique approach is our curriculum which is revised every quarter based on market research and therefore we say that the skills we teach are not just market driven but user centric.

- Do you have examples of students gaining employment after your program? Tell us about it! Or, even show us!

We have countless stories of students gaining employment but to highlight just one, we reached out to Kashif Taj from Peshawar who attended some of our sessions and is now a full-time freelancer and earns 300% more than before. We have added Kashif’s story as part of a testimonial in this submission.

- Share with us more details about how the end-to-end solution will work for your program.

Our end-to-end solution has been explained briefly in the user journey above. For most of the programs, training itself is the end goal but for us the success of users is the main objective that we want to achieve and we look at success in terms of economic empowerment. Any individual who goes through our program is able to score a job, online or offline, locally or internationally, or takes the plunge to launch a business is our success story.

Since we know that different individuals may have different end goals based on their capabilities and circumstances so we have tried to define an end-to-end solution that caters to all the three categories of students who will go through our program.

Photo of Isaac Odero
Team

This is certainly an amazing opportunity for the youth in East Africa. we are seeing a brighter future for Kenyan youths through this project. my prayer is that this project will touch as many youths as possible and bring the intended desire to transform the unemployment situations we are currently facing.

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Isaac Odero for your feedback! It is true that this project has the potential of transforming the lives of young people, the Kenyan economy and the whole narrative about productive usage of ICT in creating productive and meaningful employment. It is timely.

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Isaac Odero for your feedback!

Photo of Muhammad Ismail
Team

The E learning will increase the  jobs opportunities, reduce unemployment and Boost the GDP of the country. 
I would love to see the outcome as there are Some hidden gem in both countries.

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Muhammad Ismail for your feedback and optimism.

Photo of Moses Ntahobari
Team

This is a powerful and poignant idea. I am exceedingly humbled and profoundly encouraged by this initiative. To  Emerging Leaders Foundation and Skills School i salute you for championing this initiative. if it works in Kenya, In Uganda we are also ready to enjoy its benefit.  Do you have plans for scaling up this initiative to other countries in the region because of similar demographics and need?

Photo of Caren Wakoli
Team

Thank you Moses Ntahobari for your feedback. At the moment, we plan to implement this project in Kenya. However, we may explore possibilities of scaling up to the region in future, should such an opportunity arise.

Photo of Giok P CHUA
Team

This is the way to go...not only for youth but for all ages who wants to learn-do-earn as newer software are machine learning intuitive, user interface friendly and engineered for dummies
We will incorporate into our ViP Program

Photo of Ilana Milkes
Team

Let us know if we can be of any help! www.bootcamps.online 

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Hey Ilana Milkes tell me more? Although for this particular project we plan to use www.schoolofskills.co which is our own custom platform.

Photo of Sarah Harkin
Team

E Learning is awesome and transformative. how will you ensure accessility in areas with limited connectivity? Similarly, how can you be certain that the resources function in two G or at times like in Dhaka..when we have a submarine cable being repaired...1.5G? not sure if everyone experiences this....

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Sarah Harkin I think you have a valid question and so far this program is designed to work only in areas where the users have good internet access or have access to mobile internet in form of 3G/4G because online work is based on demand and reliability.

Photo of Christine Miloyo
Team

Digital learning is an awesome way of connecting with talented youth all over the world. I would love to be part of this training how can i participate in this?

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Christine Miloyo Hey, we plan to launch a pilot soon in Nairobi. But it would be good to know what are your motivations to join such a program? How it would help you and what do you hope to gain out of it.

Photo of Otim Gerald
Team

Brilliant idea and very timely too. There is a boom in the availability of digital jobs across the globe and the supply of required skills in insufficient. This program has the potential to address this situation. As a tech entrepreneur, I can see many possibilities for my business to outsource jobs to youth across borders. As you design for this program, you might want to consider borrow lessons from https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/our-work/initiatives/digital-jobs-africa/ and https://www.dotrust.org/. A major issue for potential cross-border job givers could be the difficulty in finding and determining who the right person for the right job. This is something you might what to also attention to. You could for example consider partnering with a recruitment company that can help with businesses outsource digital jobs.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Otim Gerald Love the idea. I have actually included a part of it to the iterated version above. Thanks for sharing!

Photo of Waqas Khan
Team

Focusing on digital skills and entrepreneurship is the right way to fight the unemployment issues worldwide. There are major differences in the tech adaptability in Africa and Pakistan and the programs would definitely need to be tweaked a lot. Regardless, this can certainly work wonders if executed well. 

Photo of Harry
Team

Hi Waqas, I agree with your statement. One of the challenges for implementing ideas
across countries is under estimating the local variables. This idea will need substantial
local input from NGO's to ensure it can be fully realized. Even good intentions can be seen
as negative incase these are taken as outsiders wanting to impress their ideas to a new
population.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Waqas Khan That's true. Based on that we are trying to create a co-relation between the youth markets of Africa and Pakistan so we can better design this program going forward and we will be posting the research here soon.

Photo of Saad Hamid
Team

Thanks Harry. There is definitely this concern which is why we are partnering with ELF for the implementation of this program in Nairobi.

Photo of Sidra Riaz
Team

Brilliant initiative. This is how you empower people. Can't wait to see the impact it is going to create.  Best of luck to team :) would love to become a part of it in any way possible. 

Photo of Queenie
Team

Great idea! If I had been exposed to platforms like these when I was 20, I would be on a very different level. Cant wait!

Photo of Margaret Mulei
Team

Great initiative, I like the idea of training the youth  on soft skills and business skills. Great way of empowering the youth.

Photo of Kelvina Muss
Team

Great iniaitive, innovativeness and creativity is the way to go. We need to empower our youth by all means

Photo of Caleb Odhiambo
Team

This is a great idea that will help build capacity of our youth. It's a great initiative

Photo of Ann Mukami
Team

This project approach is really good.. with the increasing unemployment, it will equip the youth with skills that will enable them be self reliant

Photo of Philip Otieno
Team

Great initiative since it targets the most deserving segment of the youths in Kenya, i.e. the unemployed and without advance education. The three thronged approach is a super model that will unlock the youth potential in Kenya. Perhaps more partnerships could be explored so that the graduates of the progamme are mentored for startups as they go out there to execute the skills acquired.
Congratulations Caren for your continued support for the youths of this country and please keep it up.

Photo of Brenda Cheruto
Team

Great initiative! Passing the skills and offering the youth opportunities to be job creators is the solution

Photo of Dino Dyno
Team

This is about giving the youth a key to there own created future. Its about handing the youth their future through them creating it themselves. Caren is on a mission to make this happen. With this project this might just happen.

Photo of Carol Ngesa
Team

This collaboration couldn't have come at a better time than now, the economies of Kenya and Pakistan are vibrant yet, their youths languish in unemployment. The combination of leadership in Caren and Saad is the kind that is needed to impact the needed  specialized skills to the youth of our two great nations. Having worked with Caren in ELF;  where she is the director, I witnessed her doubling up as an amazing work place coach, trainer and youth mentor. I can attest that Caren Wakoli is one the most promising leaders that this great Continent Africa have. May this dream see the light of the day

Photo of Joan Orina
Team

Kenya needs this. Africa needs this. More skills, more opportunities, more income for the youth. Very excited! Waiting for the launch. Well done Caren and Saad!!

Photo of Bigz Aloysius Bigirwa
Team

Good job ELF . You're making a difference in Kenya and Africa. Keep it up! 

Photo of Maria Ferrand
Team

Innovative approach which gives the initiative into the hands who need it most. Education systems are failing to provide real, useful skills to youth needed for the job market, while trainings to staff are usually forced. This will provide excellent basic skills which are now compulsory for jobs, entrepreneurs, leaders. Very much looking forward to seeing this implemented in Africa. Will be a game changer with the potential of expansion to the rest of Africa as well.

Photo of Njoki Kariuki
Team

I would gladly subscribe to this program and believe many young Kenyans would as well. These are the skills that most of our youth need so bad but unfortunately are not offered in our schools. I hope and look forward to seeing this implemented. Caren Wakoli, good work as always.

Photo of Gabriel
Team

Amazing program that is equipping and empowering many emerging leaders. Your contribution to the transformation of Kenya is of great value. Keep up the good work 

Photo of Kevin Alando
Team

This is a wonderful project. I believe it can work great given the high unemployment rate among the youth currently standing at 40% which is largely due to, lack of skills that fit the job market or that can otherwise be used for entrepreneurial activities. I hope to be among the first participants

Photo of Wanjiru Njogu
Team

Great initiative and collaboration. I would love to see the outcome of this partnership. Well done to both.

Photo of Stella Cheboi Wakoli
Team

I like this project. I hope i can be among the ones to go through it, it sounds viable. It will definitely have positive impact in creating jobs for youth in Kenya and contribute to the economy. Kudos SoS and ELF

Photo of Phyo Htay
Team

Woww ... this is brilliant !

Photo of Betsy
Team

This is a worthwhile project as we seek to empower youth and get them thinking Entrepreneurship as opposed to white collar jobs which are few and far between. I would challenge both organizations to ensure that the project targets youth from both rural and urban areas

Photo of Karsh Karsh
Team

This is a great initiative, looking forward to its implementation. I believe it will give rise to digitally empowered young people who will not only utilize their set of skills in the job market but also venture into entrepreneurship. 

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Jim Muok
Team

This would be a very effective program in Kenya considering the rate of growth of the global market. Employment rates continue to decrease in kenya as we progress and induction of our youth in such programs not only safeguard their future, but also benefit our economy as a country.

Photo of NEADY ATIENO
Team

Cannot wait for this. It would be interesting however to see how the programme facilitates transition to the job market and into entrepreneurship. Would also be nice to have a social entrepreneurship aspect to it so the skills are not only for and by the individual but also community centred.
Interested to see who else partners with you.
Also what does this present for the young people in employment.(intrapreneurship) Company skill building is lacking a lot around here.
Exciting.

Photo of Harry Ouko
Team

This would be quite welcome in Kenya given the high rate of youth unemployment and the abundance of brilliant minds.Can't wait!

Photo of Janet Jematia
Team

Great idea, I am so looking forward to it.

Photo of Aine Fatima
Team

Interesting concept and has definitely worked in South Asia as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh rank as one of the top 5 countries in terms of providing freelancers to the global market but its important to see how much of a similarity is there between the youth of South Asia and East Africa in terms of their education, adaptability, ability to learn, technology access and digital literacy.

I would like to see the expected outcomes of this program and how it will have empower the youth!

Photo of Amin
Team

Love the idea but I think this will require a lot of input from the local community too. Wether they the resources to learn and execute their skills or not.

According to indexmundi.com the literacy rate in Kenya is more than 80% as compared to Pakistan which has a literacy rate of less than 60%.

So I think it will be a good opportunity for youth in Kenya as (if the stats are correct) more 80% of population in Kenya are taking primary education and can understand (atleast) the basics of information technology.

PS: Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write .

Photo of Sabab Rahman
Team

This is a really awesome idea! Even in our country, Bangladesh, this could mean employment of thousands of young people.

Photo of Awais Imran
Team

This is the need of the hour. Pakistan's youth has excellent technical skills, yet many lack the critical software/business skills required to be a A-grade employee. 

Photo of Fahad Rao
Team

Traditional schooling practices are being questioned and criticized more than ever. The world moves towards creating more inequality and, I feel, giving youth the right tools to become entrepreneurs in the digital age could practically redefine the future of education in the developing world.  All the best to EmpowerX :)