YES! Structuring a Youth Employment Program for Learning and Adaptation
High rates of unemployment, working poverty, and other forms of vulnerable employment persist among young people in many African counties. Not only is youth unemployment an urgent issue, it is also complex and demands that employment programs be structured to respond nimbly to varied contexts. They must be deliberately geared toward experimentation and learning in order to offer robust models to enhance youth livelihoods.
YES! is an initiative of the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation implemented in five African countries in partnership with Mercy Corps, currently in its first phase. Once it became apparent that our initial approach was not the perfect solution for each country, we realized that our linear management approach and cumbersome M&E systems would not allow us to truly experiment and develop an effective, scalable model to improve youth livelihoods. We pivoted in two ways; the primary change meant pausing to refocus our overall strategy on structuring for evolution around multiple work streams, rather than one solution. The second involved shifting to a leaner M&E system to facilitate more responsive program management and inform internal collaboration.
These strategic and programmatic changes have enabled us to "place small bets" and more intentionally learn from these innovations, thus preparing the program to evolve overall as we near Phase II.