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.

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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