Ashoka Fellows & Youth Development

Research continues. This time I looked into Ashoka fellows  that have created a social enterprise or nonprofit focused on youth development. There are many amazing projects, I´ll mention some of ones that caught my attention the most. My favorite being Young Africa, because of its creative and well thought out structure, transparency, marketing, youth understanding, program evaluation and community engagement.

Hello Motion 

Location: Indonesia

Founder: Wahyu Aditya

He designed a way to allow for youth to develop their creative talents and make a living by teaching them animation. It sounds quite simple but he created a whole movement around creativity education. Wahyu promotes this as a social movement through a virtual homebase or platform which has grown into a high-scale campaign by selling t-shirts and other products designed by youth that have gone through the program.


Location: Brazil

Founder: Celso Athayde

Ever since I took Human Rights and Media at The New School with creative professor Peter Lucas, I learned to appreciate the power of personal story telling through media. So, when I saw Celso´s project I understood the impact right away.

Celso is working, along with the community in favelas, on transforming their reality through:

“the creation of activities that educate youth about their social environment and empower them to be agents of change within their communities; the development of a market economy that generates employment opportunities for a significant portion of the local population; and communication with Brazilian society about favela problems and possible solutions.”

At CUFA they use hip-hop as a tool for youth to express their thoughts about the problems they face in their daily lives. They also learn video composition, production of albums and films so that they can create diverse media forms and use them to express their voice. What´s an important component to this effort is that CUFA teaches youth how to commercialize what they create, not just to make a profit but also to show people outside the favelas the dangers they face in their everyday lives.

An important aspect I really liked about CUFA is that it incorporates all components to create social change; direct work with the community, education for empowerment, economic development, national awareness of the problem and involvement in public policy. There can be no structural social change if policy isn´t aligned with the needs of all parts of society,

“Celso presented the Brazilian president and federal ministers with 11 proposals created by favela residents that included policies for job creation, income generation, and recovery of citizenship. The government decided to implement these projects with Celso’s help and created a team including three other favela-focused social organizations to help implement them.” Ashoka.rg

Through such well structured work, CUFA has been able to reach more than 5,000 people in Brazil. The organization has CUFA chapters in 20 Brazilian states.

Young Africa

Location: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia (headquarted in Netherlands)

Founder: Dorien Beurskens

Their model is really well thought-out, I´m fascinated by the way the organization tackles a problem by involving entrepreneurs in the process. Young Africa (YA) has a franchise model that rents office space for entrepreneurs in the area. In addition to this, entrepreneurs provide local youth with vocational training. YA created a six-month curriculum –allowing them to graduate 1,000 students every six months- for youth to learn a trade such as carpentry, sewing, welding, and catering, among others, using entrepreneurs as teachers and mentors. YA has served more than 26,000 students and they have learned that more than 80% of their students are earning an income shortly three months after graduating from the program.

YA has «The Young Africa model for integral development of underprivileged young people«, a guide to replicating their model, published on their site. The document reveals in depth details about how they are able to be so successful, which keeps me even more amazed since it can be observed how they have actually carefully reasoned every angle of youth´s human development influencers.



Location: Argentina

Founder: Mariana Incarnato

I mention Doncel because I hadn´t seen another organization that contemplates «institutionalized» youth. The organization created a two-year program for youth living in foster homes so that they can obtain vocational training before becoming independent. First they get vocational orientation so that they can get to know themselves better and identify their strengths and passions. They then help them search for jobs related to their wants and needs among Doncel´s allied organizations so that they can apply for internships there.  Their aim is for them to gain a stable job after their internships.

Doncel has reached over 400 youth in Buenos Aires and they partner with 35 businesses to create professional internships for them. They also created a platform called GUIA E, in collaboration with their alumni with information meant to guide them through the process of reinserting themselves back into society after living in foster homes. Doncel alumni actually share their personal experiences so that they can help others in the process to have a smoother adjustment into society.

The program has had such success that they are now expanding their reach to the entire population of unemployed youth in Argentina.

Do Trust

Location: Lebanon, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Mexico, Rwanda, Ethiopia, UK, Turkey, China, Egypt, Morocco (headquarted in Canada)

Founder: Janet Longmor

«DOT operates youth-led economic, education and leadership programs.» DOT is a very big organization, that has proven their model to be able to scale and adapt to different cultures. Their programs work through a model based on internship/mentoring:

DOT Interns are recruited from local universities and colleges in the communities where we work. They receive intensive training in facilitation, coaching, mentoring, technology, and communication skills, and are placed in communities they are familiar with to deliver DOT programs.

In their 2014 annual report, they published to have reached 800,000 community members from around the world and to have trained 4,500 interns.

All five organisations use different strategies in order to make their organization sustainable but in spite of their country´s legislations differences they have all figured out a way to have both an income generating activity and an option open for donations. I mention this because it makes me reflect on the best legal model in Mexico for a youth social enterprise, since there isn´t a legal structure specifically for social enterprises in the country.

All five of them tackle youth unemployment, youth at risk and youth development with their own unique approach. There isn’t only one way to to improve youth’s lives but they do have one thing in common: all organizations teach them skills not just to become “employable” but to become entrepreneurial.