The Digital Marketplace Yoma: Empowering African youth on their journey from learning to earning
The European Union is supporting young Africans on their learning-to-earning journey thanks to a digital portal. Yoma is an online marketplace for youth which provides opportunities to develop skills, engage with a community and access employment. More than 250 000 young people have already benefitted from Yoma.
Implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, UNICEF, Botnar Foundation and RLabs, it proposes a new way of engaging young people, premised on young peoples’ self-directed learning-to-earning journey.
According to recent figures published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 20 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds in Africa are without work. In 2020, young people were three times as likely to be unemployed as adults (ILO, 2020).
A lack of access to training, insufficient work experience and limited financial resources are just some of the reasons for this. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the situation, with the ILO reporting that more than 20 million people in Africa lost their jobs last year.
In early 2020, the European Commission and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) launched an initiative called the #SmartDevelopmentHack.The aim was to find innovative digital responses to the COVID-19 crisis.
Yoma was among the nine winning projects. The initial idea emerged from a youth led human-centred design process that called for a youth-centred solution that responded to two main challenges: a) scarce opportunities that are only accessible to those with a higher social status; b) young people feeling lost in a fragmented system, wanting concrete pathways to build their skills and improve their job prospects.
Yoma proposes individualised learning-to-earning pathways that put youth at the centre, aligning opportunities with their aspirations, potential, and the market demand.
As young people engage on the platform, their achievements and personal growth are verified using blockchain and added to a digital CV, which they can share with peers and employers. This allows youth to build an alternative trust profile, which enhances employability and allows for more informed matching with the labour market.
Additionally, youth are incentivised to engage in the marketplace through digital tokens, which can be redeemed in the real local marketplace (e.g. for transport, data bundles and airtime) and in the digital space to access other opportunities (e.g. mentorship and more advanced or tutored programmes with limited intake).
- Since the platform was launched in Nigeria and Burundi in July 2020, more than 250 000 young people have taken part in what the platform has to offer and more than 784 500 digital tokens have been awarded.
- Yoma is currently available in English and French with specific regional offerings also available in Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, Kirundi and Kiswaheli.
- Currently, Yoma is being incubated by RLabs in South Africa and is expected to expand globally as a separate non-profit entity in 2022. By the end of 2022, Yoma aims to reach 3 million young people.
Yoma is an open ecosystem solution that thrives through its network and collaboration with both youth and ecosystem partners. The multistakeholder project builds upon the experience of UNICEF and GIZ and leverages it through the support of the European Union and BMZ. To sustain the project, a virtual network of young people, civil society, investors, employers and educational institutions is being developed. Key partners include atingi, the e-learning engine of Yoma, RLabs, who provides the token-based incentive system, Botnar Foundation, Generation Unlimited, and Goodwall. At country-level Yoma is working closely with UNICEF country offices, specifically in Nigeria, Burundi and South-Africa.