Curated Story
This article originally appeared on World Policy Institute

In a scenario illustrated by the World Bank, “Africa will need at least two decades to change the structure of employment sufficiently to offer dramatically different prospects to its youth.” However, what this scenario may not fully consider is the persistent problem of “waithood,” or “waiting for adulthood.”

Practitioners and social entrepreneurs in over 43 African countries who are passionate about solving youth unemployment have often observed the challenge of “waithood”—a period of suspension when young people are no longer children, but have not transitioned into being adults.


Ashoka Insight

To ensure youth are better equipped for job or business opportunities, social entrepreneurs are creating new intergenerational structures to dismantle the culture of waithood. These structures ensure that individuals from different generations collaborate and form sustained relationships, with the explicit intention of supporting members of the younger generation and helping them secure their own livelihoods and well-being.

By examining interviews and case studies of over 45 social entrepreneurs in 17 African countries, we found four main techniques that are used to create intergenerational support.


Lynsey Farrell is a Change Leader and currently the Knowledge Lead for Ashoka's Global Venture team that supports the selection of leading social entrepreneurs around the world. While at Ashoka, Lynsey has led numerous knowledge and learning efforts. As program manager of Ashoka’s Future Forward: Innovations in Youth Employment in Africa initiative, she curated and facilitated the Future of Work in Africa course, co-authored an innovation guide called Youth Unstuck: Innovations in Youth Livelihoods and Leadership in Africa, and helped co-lead experiential learning journeys around the continent. Prior to Ashoka, Lynsey directed American University's program on international development in Nairobi, Kenya and completed a PhD in Cultural Anthropology focused on the intersection of international development and youth-self-help movements in Nairobi's largest informal settlement, Kibera.

More For You