Katrin Rohde

Ashoka Fellow
Burkina Faso,
Fellow Since 2011
AMPO (Managré Nooma Association for the Protection of Orphans)

Citation

This profile was prepared when Katrin Rohde was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
Katrin is combating rural exodus, and more specifically, the “streetboy” phenomenon, by creating a viable alternative to city life in rural communities. She realized that to get young boys truly excited about staying in their rural communities, it is crucial to provide a real and empowering economic opportunity for them to plug into during their teenage years. To achieve this, Katrin has created the Tond Tenga Center, a boarding school where the most vulnerable boys—orphans and sons from poor families—from rural areas are trained for two years in new farming techniques. Each detail of this initiative (i) serves to reinforce the sense that economic opportunity is real and (ii) a strong sense of empowerment during each step of the process.

In terms of empowerment, Katrin has created a unique selection process that involves the entire community, and thus, elevates the status of the opportunity. When chosen after long deliberation by a group of elders, parents, and peers, the boys often feel more pride in their own self-worth and see themselves as valuable in the eyes of their community, often for the first time in their lives. The very fact that the school is a boarding school, located near the capital, and made up boys from various villages around the country, also adds to the prestige of the opportunity, as they feel they have been selected to do something truly important. Katrin nurtures this new self-confidence during boarding school with courses and conversations that push the boys to explore who they are as individuals, and ultimately, how to work together.

Equally key in Katrin’s initiative is to create real economic opportunity. To accomplish this, elders sign a contract committing them to provide land to their program graduates so they may practice what they learned during home visits, and eventually launch their own agribusiness after graduation. Katrin also provides an education that is comprehensive (discussing all aspects of the value chain) and intensely practical with two years in classroom and two years in the field; provision of production materials; and development of wells). Even the choice to focus on organic production in particular is rooted in the real markets and the possibility for income generation attached to this growing industry. Katrin chooses villages carefully, paying close attention to their ready access to transportation along major roads to the capital and access to water. So in essence, long before anyone gets on a bus, she has pre-negotiated the village transformation process.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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