Finding a better way to deliver training in a youth empowerment program
One of my main tasks at Kopernik is supporting the Youth Change Agent (YCA) project — a youth empowerment project that we are implementing in partnership with Plan International in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara. This project aims to provide young men and women, or Youth Change Agents (YCAs) with a range of business skills and knowledge to equip them with the skills to launch their own small-scale enterprises.
Lembata consists of nine sub-districts with population of 123,141. Around 12.5% of the population are young people aged between 15–29 years old. However, due to a weak economic situation and lack of employment opportunities in the district, young people tend to migrate to cities and overseas for work. This project aims to limit this from occurring and stimulate greater economic activity in Lembata. Through training and coaching, the YCAs are trained to identify the current needs and challenges facing their communities, and to inspire fellow young people to explore local employment opportunities.
My main task in this project is conducting private training and mentoring sessions to the participants in order to share leadership, confidence-building, communication, networking and other business-related skills.
Back in November 2016, more than a hundred young people applied to take part in this project, with 60 applicants being selected to attend the initial training. After three months, 39 YCAs stuck it out to compete in the ‘80-day Challenge’, where they exercise the entrepreneurship skills they acquired by selling and distributing simple clean technologies within their communities.
However, supporting 39 YCAs is a big challenge. So, with the assistance of my colleague, Program Assistant Tarsis, we developed the idea to split them into groups of four to nine agents from the same area. The grouping helped us offer better support to the YCAs, saving a lot of time and energy in the process.
For example, one-on-one meetings were difficult to conduct due to poor quality roads across the Lembata regency and the time taken to reach each of the YCAs. Moreover, the YCAs come from different educational backgrounds and have very different daily activities. Many of them are high school graduates, some of them are young mothers and others work as maids, shopkeepers and farmers. So, conducting group-based coaching and mentoring sessions at a convenient time in a central location was a must.