LEAP Africa, a youth-focused leadership development organisation, and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), a global youth development organisation, have entered into a partnership to launch the Youth Enterprise Fund (YEF).
Both groups in positive youth development (PYD) said the YEF project would allow IYF and LEAP Africa to resurrect their historic partnership to implement new and innovative approaches that leverage their shared expertise.
Technical Advisor, Youth Agency and Engagement at the IYF, United States, Sarah Jonson, in a statement made available to THISDAY yesterday said: “When we first partnered LEAP in 2013 to support the strengthening of their Social Innovators Programme, our work together really focused on building the skills of young social entrepreneurs, facilitating access to networks and resources for youth-led projects,
and advocating for the importance and credibility of youth-led social innovation.
“We are excited to work together again to build that model and success, and explore new frontiers in facilitating more sustainable access and strengthening the ecosystem for early to mid-stage social entrepreneurs.”
The YEF is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support the critical work being done by early and mid-stage social entrepreneurs. With flexible grants that will be sub-awarded to social innovators within LEAP Africa’s Alumni network, the Youth Enterprise Fund will support them to increase the impact of their work.
Also, LEAP Africa said it has been strengthening and advancing youth-led innovation and entrepreneurship in Nigeria for the previous decade through its social innovator’s programme (SIP).
Each year, an annual cohort of fellows is equipped with new knowledge and skills, supported to expand their networks and partnerships, and elevated through national and regional showcase events. This model has resulted in greater personal effectiveness, organisational sustainability, and impact. With time, the Social Innovators Programme has created a network of change agents across Africa, the group stated.
Jonson noted that the Youth Enterprise Fund (YEF) seeks to build on the success of the Social Innovators Programme by facilitating access to flexible funding for SIP alums.
“In addition, the YEF will engage with the Nigerian social entrepreneurship ecosystem to effect lasting change in the services and support that are accessible to young entrepreneurs. The partnership brings together LEAP Africa’s experience working with Social Innovators across Africa and IYF’s experience and expertise in implementing and supporting leadership and development programmes and supporting youth in marginalised and under-resourced communities across Africa.”
In his remark, the acting Executive Director of LEAP Africa, Kehinde Ayeni, said: “Africa is not in short supply of self-willed, talented, innovative people (particularly young people), but what is lacking is direction, resources, and training to empower and equip our young change-makers to build sustainable and thriving enterprises to address the issues peculiar to Africa. With a partner like the IYF, LEAP Africa looks forward to improving social entrepreneurs’ change outcomes.”