Africa is the youngest continent in the world with 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 years.
This is an opportunity for Africa but also a challenge. On the continent, youth represents 37% of the working-age population, but 60% of the total number of unemployed. And this number is even higher among youth from underprivileged family background.
This is why SOS Children’s Villages Eastern and Southern Africa (SOSCV) and leading digital television operator StarTimes joined hands in 2018 to support youth empowerment.
SOS Children’s Villages is a non-profit organization that has been supporting children, young people and families since 1949 and are present in 26 countries in East & Southern Africa.
Every year, they take care of thousands of children across the continent who have lost parental care or who are at risk of losing parental care.
In most countries, these young people are facing social and economic exclusion and face challenges when entering the professional world. In March 2017 SOSCV launched the YouthCan! initiative through which partners such as StarTimes provide youth with training and exposure to the professional world so they can transition successfully into professional life and lead independent lives.
The media group StarTimes has been growing very fast these past years, creating thousands of jobs on the continent.
StarTimes’ Vice-President in charge of Human Resources, Luis Lu, explains that “StarTimes Group is committed towards empowering youth. They are the next generation of African leaders and they are eager to acquire knowledge and skills, but above all they are eager for an opportunity to show what they can do, that they can contribute. At StarTimes, through this partnership with SOS Children’s Villages Eastern & Southern Africa, we are humbly trying to give some of them this opportunity.”
Dozens of young people from SOS Children’s Villages East & Southern Africa programs have already interned at StarTimes in Africa.
In Tanzania, 19 year-old Rukia Zakaria Dahwa undertook a five months training as a Customer Care Agent.
She explains that “it was my first internship” and “I learnt about good communication skills between workers and customers, to be active and work hard to meet targets. Although I am still pursuing my studies, I am sure the skills I got through the internship will help me find a job in the future.”
In Nigeria, Tina Odiah, 26, was hired as a full time staff after getting what was her first internship in a company. “Before I didn’t know how to use many work tools like Excel. But when I started I realized it was a very important tool and I was trained on how to use it. Today I’m better at it and I also learnt how to behave in a formal environment. Later, there was an opening at the company I am sure I was selected because of the internship I did – that made me a better person.”
In Rwanda, Sonia Nishimwe, 24, explains that although her internship at StarTimes isn’t her first experience in a company, “it is the realest”. Working as a marketing assistant, “I am learning how to develop ideas that match with the working environment and also taking responsibilities of the work that am assigned to, learning how to deal with clients.”
In Burundi, Oscar Havyarimana learnt more than skills through his a two-month internship in StarTimes’ sales department, it gave him “the confidence to talk to people from different languages and background”. And that convinced him he could make his dream of creating his own business come true. “I am currently opening my own electronic shop.”
Since being launched, YouthCan! has established six global and more than 130 national corporate partnerships.
During 2018, it reached out to 5,060 young people in 25 different countries, equally supporting boys and girls.