By Lindsay Cleary
One of the biggest questions in development these days is how to make a programme or project sustainable. Institutional donors and the general public are more and more demanding value for money, and development organisations and their target beneficiaries are more and more demanding an empowerment model that moves on from the traditional ‘top-down’ model of aid. In response to these demands, innovative new models can be seen all around the world, and not least in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia where Young Africa is running its programmes through what is known as a ‘franchise model’ of economic sustainability.
Young Africa provides integral empowerment through training for young people. The difference between Young
Africa training centres and more traditional vocational training centres is that departments are run by franchisees; local entrepreneurs who pay rent for the use of Young Africa’s facilities, equipment and name. Each department raises their income from the profit they generate through the production of goods or services. In turn, contributions from these franchisees cover the operational expenses of the centres, guaranteeing its sustainability. The franchisees then train students in the practical skills required to get their qualifications, through a learning-through-production method which adequately prepares young people for the world of work.
Manosso Faera and Gift Mandiringa were the very first franchisees at Young Africa’s centre in Beira, Mozambique. Since 2008, they have trained over 1,200 young people across their two courses of cookery and hospitality, all carried out through their active restaurant Magico located on the Young Africa campus. All of these young people have also received valuable life skills and entrepreneurship training at Young Africa.
Manosso says, “I trained as chef for six months, spent just over a year working as a chef in a restaurant in the city, and then began teaching. Gift and I were introduced to Young Africa’s directors by a mutual friend. At the time the centre was still in its planning stage. There were no facilities yet, and when they showed us the planned location for the restaurant, it was just all bush and trees! I wasn’t sure how it would work, but when they explained the franchise idea to us, we said we would give it a go!
“Our restaurant was the first ever franchised department here, and we were here to see the first classroom block going up. When Magico first opened in 2008, we found it difficult to reach our target group, and only a few students took part in the courses in the first six months. We started a marketing campaign, and over the years young people in the area have gotten to know and trust us. Now, courses are full to capacity every semester! Right now we have 83 students are enrolled in evening and day courses.
“As part of the franchise programme, Young Africa provided us with the start-up equipment for the kitchen and restaurant. Our very first clients were a group of SERVE volunteers from Ireland in 2008. Since then we’ve continued to grow and last year we opened our second location nearby, where we run a takeaway that brings in extra income. Both restaurants also do outside catering for local factories, businesses and universities.
“Our graduates are employed in restaurants and major hotels in the city, and in popular tourist locations like Vilanculos and Nampula. Making food for clients is not the real idea; my first plan is to teach students for employability. The second is food! That’s why I’m here. It helps young people very much because we are developing students.
“I just recently graduated myself, from a four year degree in Human Resources. So now I can manage my staff better. I was like these young people; my family couldn’t pay for me to go to university so I did a short course, started working, and paid for university myself. I believe that all young people can do the same, to be independent, even if some don’t have parents. So my first job is to assist students, my second is to run a business. A lot has changed since we started out seven years ago, but we’ve never forgotten the students.”
Manosso and Gift aren’t the only franchisees benefiting from the Young Africa model. In Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Namibia dozens of entrepreneurs are running their businesses from Young Africa skills training centres, enabling them to make a profit and provide practical skills training to young people in the areas of solar installation, childcare, car mechanics, carpentry and many more. The rent paid by these entrepreneurs for the use of the space and equipment ensures that Young Africa skills training centres can become self-sustainable, thus reducing the dependence on outside donations. It’s a ‘win-win-win’ situation, for the franchisee, for the Young Africa training centre and, most importantly, for the young people empowered through a combination of vocational, life skills and entrepreneurship training.