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Coke digital platform aims to empower 25,000 African youth

KELVIN-BALOGUN-COCACOLA

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) has unveiled a new digital technology platform that will connect young people to employment, training and mentoring opportunities in its pan-African youth empowerment initiative, Youth Empowered for Success (YES!).

The new YES! Technology platform will enable wider accessibility and greater scale for the program, providing life skills training, business skills training and access to employment and mentoring for 25,000 young Africans over the next three years.

The YES! initiative – launched in June 2015 – will initially empower marginalized youth in six countries through a $4.5 (Sh450M) million TCCAF investment, while building technology and strategic partnerships to reach 500,000 youth by 2020.

The YES! program is currently being introduced in Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia by TCCAF and implementing partners Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Kuza Biashara, before also being implemented in Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda during phase one.

The new YES! Technology platform will ensure inclusive reach for the initiative, providing access to services for both young people who live in remote locations and those with limited literacy skills. The platform, built by TCCAF and its program partners, has been designed to support widely-available technology including SMS messaging and voice-based mobile devices and will also be available through devices at YES! program hubs.

The hubs in turn will be powered by solar panels and supported by standalone battery-powered wireless internet devices. This will ensure that even the most disadvantaged youth between the ages of 18-35 will have access to critical YES! program services.

The digital platform offers a simple interface and features that include access to personalized learning and connections to program partners from government, civil society and the private sector. This ensures participating youth can gain critical in-demand training and skills as well as access to jobs, internships, mentorships and other employment and entrepreneurship opportunities. The YES! Technology platform has also been designed to be scalable and replicable across Africa, ensuring immediate and iterative improvements can easily be made based on local program details and feedback from youth participants.

“The rapid pace of technology adoption across Africa presents significant opportunity for private sector, civil society and government partners to engage with youth in new ways while building the skills and connections that are essential for employment,” said Kelvin Balogun, Trustee, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and Business Unit President, Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa.

“Harnessing the talent and ambition of youth will be essential to Africa fulfilling its long-term potential, and we aim to help support this aspiration through Youth Empowered for Success. The launch of the new YES! digital platform is an important introduction in allowing us to reach more young people across Africa while rapidly scaling the program as it expands into new countries across the continent.”

In Kenya, the YES! program will train youth with life-skills along with market-driven technical and business skills through a blended model of offline training conducted by Mercy Corps and online through the YES! technology platform. Young people will be linked to jobs and business or micro-franchise opportunities in growth segments of the Kenyan economy, such as the construction, agriculture, renewable energy and hospitality sectors.

The initiative will also help young entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and thrive by connecting them to mentors and sources of capital. Finally, the program will help provide an environment to enable youth economic empowerment by helping youth register their businesses and benefit from Kenya’s existing youth-friendly policies, such as the government tender policy that prioritizes youth, women and people with disabilities.

The new YES! Technology platform is being rolled out in Nairobi County and will be available to youth who are participating in the program.

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