Africa Youth meaninful contributions
Curated Story
This article originally appeared on
World Policy Institute

In her region in Ghana, Regina Honu witnessed homes being destroyed during periods of heavy rainfall. But it wasn’t the destruction alone that worried her. “When I was young,” she explains, “I used to always see how people would wait on somebody. They would come and see me and say ‘We’re waiting for the government.’” She would wonder, “Why is it that somebody else must come and solve the problem?”

So Regina launched Tech Needs Girls to connect girls throughout West Africa to ICT careers in Ghana and to ensure they are equipped with the right skills to creatively meet local needs. “Simply put,” she said, “I want Africans to be responsible for their own problems and Africans to solve their own problems.”

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Ashoka Insight

Regina’s reflection echoes a concern of many social entrepreneurs designing interventions for youth employment: the potentially harmful effects of asking young people to work or volunteer in critical roles without offering compensation, recognition, or a decision-making voice. To remedy this problem, social entrepreneurs are finding creative ways to ensure young people—even those in the most under-resourced of communities—receive compensation or opportunities in exchange for investing their own time or money. Importantly, this should not take away from the cultivation of intrinsic motivation for learning and work, as discussed in our prior installment.

There are three main ways the social entrepreneurs we interviewed are leveraging compensation in order to create a culture of self-sufficiency:

  1. Create new currencies
  2. Offer paid work experiences
  3. Request payment for services offered

Authors

Reem Rahman works at Ashoka Changemakers as a Product and Knowledge Manager to help anyone with an idea for social change succeed in making a difference. She is passionate about creating open-source tools for learning and designs products to increase collaboration, impact, and sustainability. These have included a dashboard for every user to receive custom feedback, the Changemakers Guide to Pitching and Crash Course, and guides on trends in social innovation.

Prior to joining Ashoka, Reem was one of the Managing Directors for the innovative Rethinking Islamic Reform forum in the UK, which has reached over a hundred thousand viewers to date and she directed communications and public relations for a civil rights group in Chicago
Lynsey Farrell is a Senior Change Manager and works with the Global Partnerships and Africa Teams. Since 2013, she has been managing Ashoka's partnership with the MasterCard Foundation, a multi-million dollar grant supporting innovations in youth livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to Ashoka, Lynsey directed American University’s semester abroad program on “Issues in Sustainable Development in Nairobi, Kenya. Lynsey’s experience in Kenya began with a Fulbright student fellowship, followed by doctoral studies in cultural anthropology at Boston University. Her doctoral work was based on seven years of ethnographic research with youth self-help organizations in Nairobi’s largest informal settlement. In East Africa, Lynsey also worked as a consultant on a range of strategic planning and capacity strengthening assignments for a variety of non-profits, including the East Africa Law Society and Maendelo ya Wanawake, the largest and oldest grassroots women’s organization in Kenya.

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