NAIROBI: With technological advancements anticipated to be a key driver for Kenya’s economic growth, the YMCA Youth Livelihoods model provides youth with both ICT and entrepreneurial skills to take up this challenge. Today 55 young students pledged their commitment to the advancement of youth livelihoods in the country at a commitment ceremony, a key milestone in their programme, which involves both formal and experiential training, community engagement and work reality preparedness.

Since August 2015, the Youth Livelihoods project conducted by the YMCA in Kenya and KiBO Foundation in Uganda is part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress global initiative to prepare young people with the career readiness tools and opportunities needed to thrive in today’s economy. Pathways to Progress is comprised of programs, research and partnerships that help youth build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job. Internationally, the Citi Foundation supports programming focused on developing youth economic opportunities across Africa, Asia Pacific, the Caribbean, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Already, the programme has seen a recruitment of 131 young people in Uganda, through 2 rounds of 10 week trainings conducted in the region.” The youth involved in the commitment ceremony are being trained by the Shauri Moyo YMCA, both on site and through the National Training Institute.

James Ekow Rhule, President of the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA) believes the commitment ceremony is a key psychological point for each participant. “During the commitment ceremony, participants declare, in front of witnesses, their commitment and dedication to the programme, their future and the community. It’s an experience that grounds the person all around, especially in holding themselves accountable to each other and to the various stakeholders at the event.”

The project specifically targets Kenyan and Ugandan young men and women, both in and out of school, from low income backgrounds who are aged from 15 to 25. Training is conducted in two separate modules that participants can choose from; the first, a 7 week course that focuses on ICT and entrepreneurship; the second, a 10 weeks course that combines ICT and Entrepreneurship with Leadership Training.

According to MaryAnne Mwaura, Citi bank’s Public Affairs Officer for East Africa “The training affords young people the opportunity to learn skills that are absent in traditional educational models. In particular, this training focusses on skills that enable young people to become self-sufficient and that supports self-employment and own business development. A fundamental reason for our involvement in and support of the project is that it is in line with Kenya’s Vision 2030 and the National Youth Policy.”

For AAYMCA Project Officer, Purity Kiguatha, the need for combined skills and social development training is clear: “Through this training, young people learn a variety of skills including communication, business plan writing, project proposal writing, team work, and the job application process. The youth also have the opportunity to interact with a variety of motivational speakers working in various fields to enable them to identify with individuals who are already making a change in the society. They then get involved with community through various service projects of their choice”

The collaboration between the YMCA, KiBO Foundation and Citi Foundation forms the strategic backbone of the initiative, providing a unique opportunity for all to support not only youth entrepreneurship but also youth-led social development in the region. As Rhule explains, “The training and learning experience is based on proven successful initiatives and methods used by the YMCA in Africa. Central in our philosophy, is that young people need the confidence and belief in themselves to act on the skills learnt. This is combined with an economic renaissance model, which is about both wealth creation and a sense of community stewardship which aims at giving back.”

Mwaura concludes that, “These youth are desperate and hungry for knowledge and skills to transform their lives and future, but we need to work collectively to support them. In tackling unemployment, we enable young people to become empowered, focused, determined and confident within the very competitive job market.” The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. Citi Foundation invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyse job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfil our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation.

About Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfil our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com

About the Youth Livelihoods Project
The Youth Livelihoods Project is a youth skills development initiative conducted in Kenya and Uganda. With funding support from Citi Foundation, the AAYMCA, Kenya YMCA and the KiBO Foundation contribute to youth employability through entrepreneurship, leadership and ICT training.

About the Africa Alliance of YMCAs
The Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA) is a leading pan-African youth development network on the continent, representing national movements in 20 countries, 16 of which are very active. The first YMCA in Africa was established in Liberia in 1881, and the AAYMCA was founded in 1977 as the umbrella body for all national movements on the continent. The aim of the AAYMCA is to empower young people for the African Renaissance. For more information about the AAYMCA go to www.africaymca.org or https://www.facebook.com/AfricaYMCA

Pic Credit: Citi Foundation

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