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Asante Africa Foundation developed a three year Leadership and Entrepreneurship (LEI) program to provide vulnerable youth, particularly girls, from deeply rural areas of East Africa with hands on skills and opportunities for the rapidly changing and expanding East African economic landscape. Since 2010, our integrated model has been developed through partnerships, tested and refined, practiced and closely evaluated. The data, qualitative and quantitative, has proven the program to be culturally relevant, high impact, and valued by business and community stakeholders. In 2016, we had an active 5 year impact study underway to quantify the long term impacts of the program.
The program uses a maturation model of knowledge attainment, application and community reinvestment for youth to develop entrepreneurship skills, and business competencies while deepening the application of Leadership and life skills. Each annual cohort joins the established support network of prior students and since 2015, teachers too, who proactively collaborate to generate ideas, problem solve, and motivate one another. One of the unique and successful sustainability model is Community Reinvestment better know as “Paying It Forward”. This requirement reinforces the application and transfer of knowledge, not just the initial learning. Participants agree to uphold their commitment to local leadership and to apply LEI principles to economic development, youth programs, social justice, or an area about which they are passionate. Although the “Incubator” intensive training is the catalyst of the program, the pay-it-forward projects create measurable long-term impact.
To date, 500 direct youth leaders have participated in the “Incubator” and an additional 4000 youth via school clubs who have impacted an additional 100,000+ youth through “Paying It Forward” Projects. This includes the creation of 50+leadership clubs, 22+ small businesses, 5 community organizations, and 1 radio program. Field data provides insight to initial learnings and mid term results. In 2015 alone, youth reported: 98% have Pay-It-Forward active projects, 90% have created an action place to help reach the next steps toward their career, 88% have the skills that would prepare them for a job interview today, and 95.8% said they have decided they want to become an entrepreneur. Demand from businesses and school districts has grown steadily across Kenya and Tanzania. In this paper we will share evidence and data supporting the impact of the last 5 years of the program, lessons learned, national level adoption plans and best practices to be leveraged.