Our Social Innovation Management program is an immersive journey into the world of changemaking and social impact. Beyond attending class, Fellows get hands-on experience of what it is like to be an intrapreneur through an apprenticeship. Read the perspective of one of our Apprenticeship Hosts from South Africa to learn how —even remotely— Fellows could help the organization to innovate a new idea.
In South Africa, the youth unemployment rate is currently sitting at 66,5%. This theoretically means that two out of three South African Youth, between the ages of 15 and 24 and who are looking for work, are unable to secure employment. However, it is not as if South Africa is turning a blind eye to the issue. There are countless nonprofits and government policies that are aimed at trying to fight the youth employment crisis. So why is it still so bad?
One wishes there was a simple answer but when it comes to a systematic issue, like unemployment, it is multifaceted and requires a collective input of solutions. However, those solutions are only as good as how they are perceived by the beneficiaries. It then becomes not only about economic stimulus and education, yes those are vital, but one could argue that the secret ingredient to solving youth unemployment is Youth themselves. Youth need to know what options are open to them, where they currently are now, and then make an educated step towards reaching their future. The sad reality is that most of the South African unemployed Youth live in disadvantaged areas and lack access to these resources. In the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, it was said: “of the 10,2 million persons aged 15–24 years, 32,4% were not in employment, education or training – implying that close to one in three young South Africans between the ages of 15 and 24 years were disengaged with the labour market in the first quarter of 2021”.
Great Girls is a non profit organization based in Cape Town, South Africa. They hosted four Amani Fellows from the Social Innovation Management program in 2021.
At Great Girls, we dedicate our efforts to helping these Youth. We focus on equipping young girls with the tools, motivation, and confidence to make positive choices about their career and study paths. We often get asked: “why only girls?” We aim in the future to expand to help young boys as well but for now, we believe that if we are able to equip girls from under-privileged communities to think differently about the opportunities available to them, they can become drivers of change in their own families, schools, and communities. They will be a new generation of young women who can rise up above their current circumstances, with the confidence and drive to raise others to rise with them.
As a nonprofit, we are almost purely run through volunteers and it’s safe to say we all work very hard but, like many nonprofits with limited resources, we are just pushing through to make sure our program runs smoothly, and improving our organization might not always get the limelight it deserves. So, we are deeply grateful when Amani Institute approached us to run an Apprenticeship Program. Being partnered with Four Amani Fellows, who are experienced and eager social innovators, gave us the extra support that would help us find a solution for a problem we faced. Each Fellow had a diverse set of skills and a different worldview that could bring a fresh set of eyes to Great Girls. Carol, from Kenya, has a background in advertising, strategy, and communications. Dalal, from Saudi Arabia, brought forward her social impact evaluation and research experience. Jessica, a Congolese-French, has a strong professional background in people management, UX design, and coaching. Roberta, from Brazil, is a chemical engineer transitioning to the field of social innovation and contributed a wealth of process and strategy design experience.
Between Great Girls and the Amani Fellows, we started our four month journey to improve one important thing in Great Girls: helping our girls understand what realistic employment options were available to them. We often found that girls set their standards for themselves on the extreme of unrealistically high or low. Our eight diverse modules provide them with all the information on where to gain skills, how to look for jobs or even how to conduct themselves in the workplace, and yet girls were struggling to put it all into practice. We quickly came to realize that it was not that the girls were ill-equipped but rather they did not have sufficient understanding of themselves to confidently chase their career.
In the Amani Social Innovation Management program there is a module that focuses on the “Inner Journey”. It is all about finding what drives you to do what you do as a changemaker. However, it could, and should, be applied to anyone as everyone should know what purpose gets them up in the morning. As soon as you name what inherently drives you then you can be more in control of what destination you will reach in your future.
So at the end of the Apprenticeship journey, the Four Amani Fellows presented us with an invaluable resource to help our Great Girls. They created an Inner Journey Guidebook to help our girls find their purpose through thought-provoking exercises. The guidebook is busy being shared with our 210 Alumnae and will be incorporated into the program starting in 2022.
An African proverb that could not be more fitting when applied to helping fight youth unemployment says “it takes a village to raise a child”. Thank you to the Amani Fellows for being part of our village.
You too can become an Apprenticeship Host. Email [email protected] if you are interested to learn more.
by Maylis Bezuidenhoudt