RLabs Iringa initiates social innovative programmes to empower people and improve their possibilities to solve tensions in the community.
Youth unemployment especially for youth who drop out of school before college, both boys and girls. Many youth who fail to go to college in Tanzania do not have many opportunities to pro-gress in life. Many feel like outcasts in a society that attaches so much importance to academic-certificates. Our programs at Rlabs expose the youth to alternative ways to progress in life, us-ing resources from within themselves and their vicinity. We offer three programs which include Grow Leadership Academy that takes four months, Grow Next Level that lasts six months, and short courses for specific skills.
Tanzania has been trying to increase enrolment in schools without a clear plan and facilities to cater for those who drop out of school. This creates a problem for these youth who have a level of education but not fully qualified for any job. Such youth face serious challenges in Tanzania, some face rejection in their homes and community.
Solution and innovation
When we started, we were offering one or two weeks trainings. But overtime with realised this was not having much impact. We needed to spend more time with the youth, with more elabo-rate programs. We created space/ hub where they can spend more time interacting with men-tors and guests. We created three programs which include Grow Leadership Academy that co-vers topics in leadership and personal management, entrepreneurship and digital media. Digital media is a good entry point because youth are interested in social media. So in addition to help-ing the youth to improve creativity by seeing what others do in the world and exposing their ideas to more people, social/ digital media attracts them to the hub. This program offers three paths; youth becoming entrepreneurs, looking for employment, or gaining confidence to back to school. Grow next Level is for those who wish to continue with the entrepreneurial path.It lasts for six months and focuses on basic business skills. This program is based on the Team Academy Model, from Finland. It’s a learning-by-doing program.
The short courses focus on specific skills that young people are interested in for example land-scape design, floral design, public speaking, graphic designing, and photography. These cours-es depend on availability of skills among the training team.
Some youth have been able to start businesses, with one of the most successful having started with no cash but has been able to build a business in three years that earns him over USD 2000 per month. He employs 14 other youth. The company is called Envibright. In a period of five years of these programs, 14 registered businesses have been established, some of the youth have gone back to school, and some have been able to get employment. Some youth have not been able to do much yet. We are still learning and trying to modify our approach. In South Af-rica where Rlabs started, there are many success stories
“Many young people and their parents have come back to us to share the impact Rlabs has had on them. Many parents share how their young people have changed their mind-sets. This proves to us that the method has impact, although there is a lot we can improve."