WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

Coca-Cola Foundation says yes

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The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) has pledged $4.5 million on Friday at World Economic Forum on Africa 2015 towards a new youth empowerment initiative that will provide life skills training, business skills training and access to employment and mentoring for 25,000 young Africans.

The Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) program will empower marginalized youth in six African countries and will leverage technology and strategic partnerships to accelerate and scale the initiative to provide opportunities to many more youth across the continent.

The YES! initiative will be introduced in Kenya, Tunisia and South Africa in phase one before being implemented in Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda through TCCAF and implementing partners Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Kuza Biashara. The program will address critical development and life skills for 18-35 year old unemployed and underemployed young Africans, and provide access to sustainable economic opportunities created through employment or entrepreneurship. During the first three years TCCAF aims to provide proof of concept for a scalable and replicable model with the ambition to reach 500,000 youth by 2020 by establishing strong partnerships with private sector, NGO, government and civil society organisations.

“Harnessing the incredible energy and ambition of a young and growing population will be critical to Africa’s future economic advancement,” said Nathan Kalumbu, Chairman, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation. “Over 10-12 million young Africans are entering the workforce each year yet less than half this number of employment opportunities are currently available. The YES! initiative underscores our commitment to identifying a sustainable long-term solution for youth economic empowerment and creating opportunities that will help overcome this employment gap.”

The YES! program will focus on four strategic program pillars. TRAIN will prepare youth for jobs and provide high impact market-driven skills, LINK will connect youth to employment opportunities, THRIVE will focus on supporting youth to succeed in jobs and entrepreneurship and ENABLE will drive collaboration with governments, private sector and civil society to provide an enabling employment to facilitate access to jobs for youth.

In each country, implementing teams will conduct youth-led assessments to identify opportunities and limitations in regional labor markets. Additionally, the YES! program will pioneer an innovative new web and mobile technology platform in each country that will significantly expand access to all YES! services to thousands more youth. Finally, YES! Will create entrepreneurship opportunities to some of the YES beneficiaries through the YES! Hubs, a unique retail and social services center, that will be owned and run by youth, and provide young people with connectivity to technology platforms and access to training, mentors and skills training as well as ongoing support and advice for retail entrepreneurship.

“The Youth Empowered for Success initiative presents an exciting framework to help drive truly transformational change for young people in Africa,” said Nathan Kalumbu. “The potential to connect young people with the right opportunities to build better lives while strengthening their communities is incredibly compelling.”

“Today 40 million African youth are out of work, and young Africans continue to enter the workforce at a faster rate than jobs are created,” said Neal Keny-Guyer, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps. “In partnership with The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, we are looking forward to helping even more young people in Africa find employment and build long-term financial stability for themselves and for their families.”

‘’Microsoft is proud to be a partner of the YES! initiative through our employment and entrepreneurship platform. This is an exciting program that will not only have a significant impact locally on skills development for the workforce but support technology based start-ups that are developing solutions for local challenges,” said Louis Otieno, Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative. “Our aim through this partnership is to promote employment opportunities, career guidance and enterprise development for young people.”

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