The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation (TCCAF) unveiled a new digital technology platform that will provide underprivileged youth with skills training and employment and mentorship opportunities through its new pan-African Youth Empowered for Success (YES!) program. Kelvin Balogun, president of Coca-ColaCentral, East and West Africa, unveiled the platform this weekend at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.

The digital platform is designed to reach young people in remote areas with limited literacy skills. Balogun said it will extend the reach of the YES! initiative to 25,000 young Africans over the next three years. The $4.5 million initiative funded by The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation will launch initially in six countries, with the goal of reaching 500,000 youth by 2020.

Balogun noted how Africa is the world’s youngest continent, with 70 percent of its population under the age of 30. By 2020, Sub-Saharan Africa will have added 90 million more youth to its population. "All indicators show that the center of power in Africa is shifting to teens and young adults," he said. "If we combine its population boom with better education, there is a bulge of young, empowered Africans who can drive demographic dividends through enterprise. This is good for any country with a thriving economy.”

Susan Mboya (left), president, The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation; Kevin Balogun, president, Coca-Cola Central, East and West Africa; and Sriram Bharatam of Kuza Biashara.

The digital platform, built by TCCAF and its program partners, is designed to support widely available technology including SMS messaging and mobile phones, and will also be available through devices at YES! program hubs powered by solar panels and supported by standalone, battery-powered wireless Internet devices.

The YES! platform will launch initially in Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia, before reaching Liberia, Nigeria and Uganda via TCCAF and implementing partners Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator and Kuza Biashara. It was designed to be scalable and replicable across Africa, and iterative improvements can easily be made based on local needs and participant feedback.  

Since the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit was held in Washington D.C. in 2010, it has become a global forum for entrepreneurs and government, private sector and civil society leaders to share priorities and discuss initiatives to accelerate the global entrepreneurship agenda. This year’s event, the first held in Sub-Saharan Africa, is exploring entrepreneurship opportunities for women and youth.