Education Empowering African Youth to Create a Sustainable World
The UN has designated the 12th of August as International Youth Day, where we celebrate the potential of youth, highlight pressing issues facing the youth, and reflect on practical ways we can empower youth to overcome global challenges. This year’s International Youth Day theme, “Green Skills For Youth: Toward A Sustainable World.” is close to our hearts at Asante Africa Foundation.
The youth we serve in remote rural East African communities are disproportionately affected by the effects of climate change and environmental degradation. In these communities where livelihoods closely align with agriculture, natural resources, and local eco-environment, events like droughts and floods have devastating consequences. These consequences range from food insecurity and female school drop-out to outright destruction of already strained community and educational resources.
At Asante Africa Foundation, we place youth at the center of creating community resilience to climate change and environmental events. Promoting green economy and sustainable practices are at the core of our Asante Africa Foundation education programs. Our sustainability partners, the Obama Foundation – Young African Leader Initiative (YALI) and Tusk Trust’s – Pan African Conservation Education Project (PACE), supply the curriculum. Hands-on project activities empower youth to use their creativity and innovation to create income-generating, eco-conscious initiatives.
Today we share the story of a youth who demonstrates that as well as creating environmental resilience, sustainable business practices also create new opportunities for rural economic growth.
Jacob is a 17-year-old Kenyan youth who has used his entrepreneurship skills to develop an eco-friendly liquid soap and detergent-making business. Waste reduction and recycling are key to his business model. His business minimizes waste generation, encourages recycling, and diverts waste from landfills to reduce pollution and conserve resources. Here is his story:
Jacob lives with his guardian and six siblings. In March 2022, Jacob found himself unable to further his secondary education. With three siblings already enrolled in high school, his guardian didn’t have the fees for a fourth enrollment.
However, Jacob was hungry to learn and wasn’t prepared to give up on education. He jumped at the opportunity to join Asante Africa Foundation’s Youth Livelihood Program’s (YLP) Enterprise Challenge (in partnership with Prince’s Trust International) at a local school. Jacob developed entrepreneurship and business management skills. Learning about climate change and environmental challenges within his community got Jacob thinking about potential mitigating sustainability methodologies. While participating in the Enterprise Challenge, Jacob used his entrepreneurship knowledge to create a business idea that merged his desire to contribute positively to his local environment with his need to support his family.
In April 2022, Jacob used his newly-acquired skills to start a liquid soap and detergent-making business with a capital of 750 Kenyan shillings. The Enterprise Challenge enhanced Jacob’s research skills as he sourced materials to make the products. Marketing and advertising skills helped Jacob generate a customer base within his community. Jacob’s business is now helping support his family, who had been struggling to meet their basic needs. He also contributes to paying high-school school fees for his siblings. Best of all, as a result of his profits, Jacob can now return to school to complete his education.
Jacob is particularly proud of the eco-friendly aspect of his business and that he is contributing to sustainability within his community. Jacob packages his products in recycled bottles and collects the bottles back from his customers to reuse them repeatedly, keeping plastic out of his local landfill.
WRITTEN BY: Gillian Deenihan