GirlsRock!

 

GirlsRock! is an after-school technology and health education camp for displaced girls in Soacha, Colombia. It is a program within YTF’s Soacha Digital Village. Soacha is located in the rural outskirts south of Bogota, and is home to as many as 6.8 million displaced people.

The last five decades of continuous internal conflict and violence have resulted in over six million people to be displaced or forced from their homes in Colombia, disproportionately impacting women and children. Many children are living in unsafe, violent communities and are at real risk of being forced into armed warfare, crime, sexual abuse and exploitation, and violence.

GirlsRock! integrates real and relevant issues in health, personal safety, and reproductive rights with the use of technology, teaching technology skills as well as empowering girls to better understand issues that can negatively affect them. Both result in increased confidence and personal empowerment.

Colombia has the worst teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America with higher rates for displaced girls. In Soacha, 30% of displaced girls ages 13-19 have been pregnant at least once. The minimum age for marriage is 12 years for girls and 14 years for boys. Child marriages and early pregnancies have a serious detrimental effect on the health, education, and development of the girl child. These are violations of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child and of Colombia’s girls and women.

GirlsRock! is for girls aged 12-20 years. Girls learn how to use technology to research, document, and disseminate information on issues related to sexual abuse, exploitation, reproductive rights, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS, teen sex trafficking, and adolescent pregnancy. It improves academic performance, competencies (communication, teamwork, time management, problem solving, and confidence) and positive learning attitudes through the use of e-learning and digital research tools. It promotes emotional well-being and intellectual growth of girls to take ownership and responsibility of their lives in a learning environment that fosters no bias in attitudes towards girls.

Through YTF’s innovative curriculum, they learn how to use technology to create positive change.

YTF Supports Africa Code Week

 The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) announced their role as a network partner for Africa Code Week, happening October 1-10. Two YTF staffers also serve as ambassadors for the initiative, including Joseph Kamau in Kenya and Chibuike Egejuru in Nigeria. Africa Code Week hosts workshops across 17 countries this week, and YTF will host training in both Kenya and in Nigeria. 

Hundreds of coding workshops will be held across Africa, bringing training opportunities to 20,000 youth, ages 8 to 24.

The project launched in June, and spent four months gearing up with registration, partnership agreements and activity planning. Following the early October Africa Code Week, an “Hour of Code” on December 4 will feature follow-up workshops held in several countries.

“This initiative reflects a huge need across Africa, and we are proud to lend our experience and staff to such an important effort,” said YTF President Njideka Harry. “Joseph and Chibuike are both talented and passionate in helping youth gain technology skills, and Africa Code Week is the perfect intersection to help further their work through YTF.”

Africa Code Week’s mission is “To empower future generations with the coding tools and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors of Africa’s economic development.”

 

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YTF Changing Lives in Colombia: Students Share Impact of GirlsRock!

 

Last August in Soacha, Colombia, we kicked off GirlsRock!, a program that empowers girls to use technology to promote their well-being and health, with a focus on reproductive health.   

Impacts from GirlsRock are expected to ripple far beyond an individual girl’s health and well-being. In addition to healthier families overall, YTF aims to boost participants’ socioeconomic status through fewer marriages for girls. Looking at the wider community and career fields, GirlsRock! students should be ready to step up participation in local governance and be empowered to help make important decisions in their own communities. The program also aims to help mold GirlsRock! participants into a set of powerful education leaders for the future.

Soacha has one of the most vulnerable youth populations in Colombia and many of our students come from single mother households. Many don’t have access to adequate technology education, so we’re inspiring girls to use technology as a tool to empower themselves.

148 girls are participating in the GirlsRock! program, and we’re so excited to see the level of enthusiasm in our students.    

Pictures from our first training session

Pictures from our first training session

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Meet our GirlsRock! students.

 

“So far, I think it’s a very cool class as we’re learning important things such as valuing ourselves as girls. They’re also teaching us on the importance of pregnancy prevention and harmful effects of drug use. I’m also learning how to make PowerPoint presentations.”

 

 “I love GirlsRock! because I’m learning new things. I’m learning Microsoft tools such as PowerPoint – it’s fun learning to make presentations! I’m also learning how to use social media to empower myself.”

We’ll be sharing updates on the program on social media, so stay tuned!    

 

How Urban Farming and Digital Literacy Training Tackle Hunger

 

At YTF, we work relentlessly to help the world’s most disadvantaged people embrace innovation and technology to better their lives. To accomplish this in Uganda, we’ve set our sights on urban farming and mobile technology.

In the slum areas of Kireka and Katanga where YTF Uganda operates, most people live in extreme poverty. Many have migrated from rural areas in search for better opportunities. However, rural families often come with almost nothing and find it hard to find jobs, housing, and food.  

As urban poverty grows among families in Uganda, so does urban hunger. Those who do not have access to growing food must buy it, a necessity many families often can’t afford.

That’s where urban farming comes in. Urban farming in developing countries provides extra food production that combats hunger and malnutrition. Agriculture also serves as an important source of livelihood for the families involved.

At YTF, we always seek ways to harness technology for bigger impact. So last July, in collaboration with USASO, we provided urban farming practice and ICT training to 86 women in Kireka and Katanga, including 52 girls 25 years old or younger.

Farming practices training, led by the USASO staff, demonstrated how to grow vegetables in a small space utilizing polythene bags.

To supplement the farming training, we taught the women to use mobile phones to search for relevant information, which will prove critical to practicing efficient farming.

We also provided basic digital literacy training to the women and helped them connect with the rest of the world via social media. Most have gone their entire life without access to computers, and we were humbled to see their excitement and enthusiasm.

Pictures from our urban farming training session

Pictures from our urban farming training session

Pictures from our urban farming training session

Pictures from our urban farming training session

A picture from digital literacy training session

A picture from digital literacy training session

According to UN, between now and 2030 nearly all population growth will come from urban areas of developing nations. The level of urban poverty across the globe, currently estimated at 30 percent, is predicted to jump by another 20 percent in just the next five years. We are confident that our training helped make a dent in lessening urban hunger and poverty in Kreka and Katanga, and as a organization, we will continue to innovate to provide the training and resources needed in the years to come.

So You Want to Be a YTF Master Trainer

 

Post by Casmir Anya

What Makes a Worthy Master Trainer Candidate?

In a nutshell, master trainers train the trainers. I am privileged to serve as a master trainer for the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF), and have a lot to share about my experience, including tips for fellow master trainers and some notes on personal growth and challenges.

A worthy master trainer candidate is someone who is skillful, knowledgeable and competent in delivering content to audience. One of the most important qualities of a master trainer is an incredible drive to educate others. I also look for someone who is an excellent communicator—meaning they can hold an audience’s attention for a number of hours. They also understand nuances within­­ the audience, such as level of education and cultural differences, including language, in order to communicate effectively.

In addition to being a great speaker and having an unyielding desire to serve others by providing a quality education, master trainers must also must truly believe in what they teach. They should be completely and authentically invested in the programs they offer and believe confidently that there is no one else better to teach these specific techniques to others.

Casmir talking to women entrepreneurs at Nigerian Women Entrepreneurs & Mobile Value Added Services program training session.

Casmir talking to women entrepreneurs at Nigerian Women
Entrepreneurs & Mobile Value Added Services program training session.

Master Trainers for YTF: Tips from My Experience

AUDIENCE. Understanding an organization’s target training audience and your ability to work with them is key. I’ve discovered I fit right in with YTF’s core audiences. I feel excited around young people, and I love teaching women because I’ve found they are good listeners.

EMPATHY. I also know learning is not always easy, especially learning a new course. I make empathy my mantra whenever I’m teaching. I put myself in the shoes of my audience.

MATCHING PACE. Some teachers make false assumptions about their students or even exhibit impatience. I choose instead to show great willingness to compliment slow progress and refrain from anger when mistakes are made. This includes repeating instructions, breaking down a task into small units and allowing time for learners to try things out. It is far better to move slowly and attain complete mastery, than to push for rapid and sloppy completion.  

POSITIVITY. While training people in customer relations, my best advice is to always smile, especially when they see customers. Even if they don’t feel like smiling, I encourage them to keep smiling. I chose to apply the same formula in the classroom setting as a trainer. I have resolved to keep a “humor is the word” philosophy since becoming a master trainer in YTF. A sense of humor while teaching makes the listener feel comfortable in raising questions, reinterpreting instructions and generally to feel relaxed while they learn. 

Personal Growth

Another important aspect of becoming a master trainer is to understand both the career advantages and challenges that come with such a coveted role. Being a master trainer in YTF has helped me establish new connections and ultimately create new work opportunities. This great opportunity with YTF has changed my mindset toward the challenges of life. For instance, I now work to provide solutions for issues in my community instead of sitting back and waiting for government.

I’ve learned teaching is really learning, an aspect I’ve come to value and look forward to as part of my instruction. For instance, in the course of training youths on the Project 3E platform, I was exposed to the world of entrepreneurship and become more conscious of my immediate environment. While brainstorming with my students, we were able to critically examine the problems and challenges of our immediate environment, which helped the participants develop solutions.

I’ve been thrilled to learn that master trainers are not only great educators, but also serve as mentors and guides. A master trainer’s job doesn’t stop at the end of training, as he or she will continue to communicate with trainees as they move forward along their own personal paths.

Most importantly, serving as a master trainer can also help individuals identify another way in which to grow and thrive in a field they are truly passionate about, doing the kind of work that they absolutely love.

Being a master trainer has not only helped me stay connected on a professional level – it’s also allowed me to truly live my purpose. 

I will remain grateful to YTF for activating the inert potentials of teaching in me. In fact, my friends and my audience also call me “a born teacher.” Wow! I’m fulfilled being a master trainer in YTF.

My Challenges as a Master Trainer

While doing what you love offers a wealth of benefits both personally and professionally, it’s not without its challenges. Scheduling and lack of time are two of the most common challenges I face as a master trainer. Combining my job in YTF and working on degree is certainly an uphill climb. Constant travel is very of a personal life, and sometimes I end up sacrificing many academic schedules to get the best for YTF. It is really rewarding and at the same time can be painful.

Interacting with a wide variety of personalities, including those with strong opinions, can also prove challenging. The key to keeping training on track is to not involve your own emotions, and to instead create a space for people to learn and grow while encouraging them to maintain an open mind for the duration of the course.

I recommend only pursuing becoming a master trainer if giving back, helping others and working to ensure the industry is moving forward in the right direction are your passions. This certainly isn’t about making money, considering the amount of time spent preparing for, traveling to and teaching each course. At the end of the day, we do this work for the love of teaching and to know that we are leaving the society better than we met it.

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Casmir Anyaegbu is a Master Trainer with YTF in Nigeria.  Prior to joining YTF a little over a year ago, Casmir was an entrepreneur. Casmir also is a graduate of YTF Academy and completed his Masters in Agricultural Economics at Imo State University. He is passionate about teaching and inspiring others.

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Creating a New Future: Innovation and Hope from President Obama

 

You can’t stop the future, you can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret…Is to press play. (Jay Asher)

Kenyans recently hosted U.S. President Obama at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, cultivating a culture and conversation around entrepreneurship that the Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) is proud to support. Despite questions of a safe and secure visit, Obama made the journey that will forever remain a beacon of hope for the Kenyan people and Africa at large.

Initiated in 2009, the summit aims to connect upcoming entrepreneurs with established global business leaders. Kenya was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to host the sixth global event. This historic event made waves and left Africans hoping again.

Opening Pathways to Alternative Employment

There has been a lot of hope in Kenyan youth as they look for innovative ways to make a living through entrepreneurship. In particular, you seek employment where they apply ICT and agricultural skills to make a living and bring a positive change to the society. This new opportunity with unique careers comes from a growing productive population with relevant skills, education, and hard working initiative who cannot enter the existing job market because of harsh economic conditions in the country.

With this context, Obama’s visit to Kenya was timely and very welcome. Especially considering the aim of this summit is to create trade markets between countries and the United States of America.

The YTF community takes this opportunity seriously. “We as leaders need to mobilize workshops and seminars to help youth gain knowledge of their potential and show them the skills they need to succeed,” said Joseph Kamau, a YTF staff member in Kenya. “It’s now up to us to step up to the challenge, to help youth tap into their futures. A challenge we must take with gladness. I’m up to that challenge, are you?”

10 year old participant in YTF’s 3D Africa – Kenya – states, “Innovation is the art of introducing something new, like things that can be created out of 3D Printing

Words of Hope from a Trusted Source

President Obama’s words were filled with hope and faith. He said that Africa’s potential can be fulfilled by harnessing the power of its young people to transform the continent. He told entrepreneurs at the summit that Africa’s time had come as a place of innovation with young people, especially women, poised to transform the continent. He reiterated that Africa is on the move.

“This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth and Kenya is setting an important example – Kenya is leading the way,” Obama said. Coming from one who has African roots and has extraordinarily risen to great power, his speech that much more believable to millions in Kenya and Africa. Hearing President Obama, we believe that we too can make it and that the future is filled with hope that does not disappoint.

Kenya is on the move with a vibrant culture, with a thriving tech sector in particular, having produced world-leading mobile money and crowd sourcing applications, among other forward-thinking advances. Hope is definitely in the air, with our entrepreneurship spirit empowering change in Africa and globally in the future.

”Africa is the world’s newest and most promising frontier of limitless opportunities. We are at the beginning of a great journey.” -President Uhuru Kenyatta.

 

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Laura Wambui is writing from YTF in Kenya where she is a Project Coordinator for 3D Africa. In this role she works with youth to inspire innovation and an interest in STEM careers and education using open source technologies and 3D Printing. Laura is passionate about working with girls, particularly, in Kenya and exposing them to technologies that can educate them and change their lives.

YTF at Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum

September 8, 2015 – The Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) will participate in the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum’s (AWIEF) event, themed Investing in Women Entrepreneurs: Unleashing Africa’s Economic Growth, September 8 and 9 in Lagos, Nigeria. The conference will assemble successful entrepreneurs and business leaders from diverse African countries and beyond for a discussion on the role of women in Africa’s growth and development. Focus areas include: education, access to finance, financial inclusion, information and communication technologies (ICTs), business skills, training and economic opportunities.

YTF founder and President Njideka Harry will moderate a panel titled, “Unlocking Potential for Women Empowerment and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Training and Technology.” Harry will be joined by panelists including Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia and Raphael Afaedo, co-founder and CEO, Supermart Nigeria. In this panel, Harry will introduce YTF’s work and talk about the opportunity technology provides women to enter the electronic value chain. According to Euromonitor, “Nigeria has the fastest growing e-commerce market on the African continent, with the retail sub-sector expected to grow from $104 million in 2014 to $1 billion in 2019, despite economic slowdown.” YTF sees e-commerce as an untapped market for women entrepreneurs in particular.

Njideka Harry (center) with Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia (left) and Mopelola Balogun (right), MTN Nigeria

Njideka Harry (center) with Fatoumata Ba, CEO of Jumia (left) and Mopelola Balogun (right), MTN Nigeria

As technology continues to define the 21st century workplace, participants will explore and evaluate ways to boost women entrepreneurship, including business skills training and development, mobile technology and access to finance and mentoring, among others. 

Harry is also a keynote speaker for a panel titled, “Financial Inclusion a Critical Factor for Fostering Sustainable Growth & Development.” 

YTF’s President sharing our work with financial inclusion and technology serving women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

YTF’s President sharing our work with financial inclusion and technology serving women entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

“Entrepreneurship is the life line of a healthy economy,” said Harry. “By creating an ecosystem to support more female owned businesses, these entrepreneurs can play a significant role by creating their own wealth and jobs. As YTF continues to support and train women in entrepreneurship endeavors, I am thrilled to participate in such an important event. I’m looking forward to learning from my fellow event participants and taking some lessons learned back to our work.”

Njideka Harry (second from right) with AWIEF conference presenters

Njideka Harry (second from right) with AWIEF conference presenters

Findings from the 2015 Female Entrepreneurship Index demonstrate that Africa continues to fall behind when it comes to fostering women entrepreneurs. According to the index, Africa ranked the lowest as compared to the rest of the world. YTF knows that women’s labor force participation is a key source of long term economic growth. Female education can lead not only to increased revenues and job creation, but to healthier and better educated families – ultimately creating more prosperous communities and nations. By helping transform the lives of promising women entrepreneurs, we in turn transform the lives of those around them. 

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ABOUT AFRICA WOMEN INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM (AWIEF)

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) is a premier, pan-African conference and exhibition event that will bring together an exclusive group of thought leaders, women entrepreneurs and women in business, investors, MSMEs, international development organizations, NGOs, CSOs, trade missions, foundations, governments and policy makers, the private sector and media. It provides a platform that will showcase deliberations around the role that African women play in shaping the continent’s economic future, the challenges and constraints they face, and to proffer solutions.