This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
“Future Ready” is a project which develops young women and men computer science and entrepreneurship skills. Future Ready enables youth to develop technology solutions that addresses societal challenges and contribute to the growth of the national economy. Overall, the project bridges the gap between public education and job market needs and creating entrepreneurial opportunities for them.
Somalia is a complex political, security, and development environment, and much of its recent past has been marked by poverty, famine, and recurring violence. After decades of conflict and instability, a federal government was established in 2012, built through national dialogue and consensus. The socio-economic situation of the country is very poor. Poverty cuts across sectors, locations, groups and genders, and approximately 69% of Somalia ‘s population live below the poverty line. Furthermore, critical thinking, life skills as well as technological skills are not taught at school, and there is a demand for tech skills by large companies.
"Future Ready” aims to develop a cadre of job-ready and entrepreneurial youth. The project gives Somali youths and women hands-on experience creating new software and applications to develop critical-thinking and skills for life and careers in the digital world. Future Ready contributes to youth learning and skill-building through advanced curriculum and programming within the STEM fields in addition to creating a cadre of highly motivated, skilled, and engaged women and men innovators and job-ready recruits with universal skills for the 21st century, and to provide readiness and credentials for college and careers. Participants are encouraged to engage users through field visits and testing their prototypes.
This approach has garnered attraction and support as a social aspect is considered within the “future ready” methodology, which goes beyond a technical training. The vision is for “future ready” to expand across Somalia, localizing the materials and building the capacities of national organizations to be able to deliver the training to more young women and men. UNDP Somalia has designed an innovative curriculum whereby participants are addressing real Somali challenges identified through initial studies and proposals in the applicaDons, incorporating elements of human-centered design with the technical training in coding for prototyping in addition to extensive entrepreneurial training to ensure 2 UNDP Innova+on Facility | 2018 Call for Proposals the apps are economically viable. The program aims to introduce technological skills amongst youth, to build a large community of app developers that are contributing to real social impact whilst creating new employment opportunities.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
1) “Future Ready” is a project which aims to develop young women and men computer science and entrepreneurship skills.
2) Furthermore, Future Ready will enable youth to develop technology solutions that address societal challenges and contribute to the growth of the national economy.
3) Overall the project will bridge the gap between public education and job market needs and creating entrepreneurial opportunities for them.
4) Moreover, trainings are implemented in physical spaces that are attractive for youth, such as local innovation spaces, rather than hotels or government offices.
5) The course content, which is very technical, has been adjusted to incorporate human-centered design methodology in the development of the appideas
What is the current status of your innovation?
1) 90 young women and men have participated in the first two rounds of “future ready”.
2) Five of the participants have found employment as app developers, and the others are working on developing their prototypes with the support of UNDP partners such as Shaqadoon and IriseHub, who are highly motivated to become trainers and to train other youth using the same framework and curriculum.) UNDP Somalia’s ambition is to scale Future Ready to other cities that lack youth driven activities to move beyond the two main cities (Mogadishu and Hargeisa).
3) The project is ready to be scaled up in Garawoa and Kismayo as a start.
4) In the short term, we aim to engage at least another 500 youth in “future ready” within the duration of this project and to create at least 50 new job opportunities. In the long term, UNDP Somalia aims for “future ready” to become a recognized movement in Somalia.
Collaborations & Partnerships
1) UNDP and Microsoft ensure that the programs are effective and are implemented to the highest of the standard by the trained organizations.
2) Future Ready is reaching to young women and men through universities, youth centers, local incubators, and accelerators in addition to existing programs implemented by the UNDP and other UN Agencies.
3) This is also a government-supported project, which provides legitimacy and ensures political support.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
1) Young people are given holistic long-term capacity building program that integrates socially impactful solutions and incubation with local partners.
2) Working with the government in creating an innovation ecosystem, mechanisms and structures that support the start-ups.
3) Working with I-rise hub and Hano Academy- two local partners that support the incubation process of innovative ideas of the young people
4) Working within a dedicated incubator environment
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
90 young women and men have participated in the first two rounds of “future ready”. Five of the participants have found employment as app developers, and the remainder are working on developing their prototypes with the support of UNDP partners such as Shaqadoon and IriseHub, who are highly motivated to become trainers and to train other youth using the same framework and curriculum.). Furthermore, positive feedback has been highlighted from prominent UN figures such as the Administrator Achim Steiner, Michael KeeDng and Mark Lowcock as seen below:
Out of more than 1000 applicants, 60 youth were selected for the design thinking, training and business development sequence.
Challenges and Failures
1) Lack of financial resources: Additional financial resources will be committed by the private sector. Companies already approached have expressed interest and UNDP Somalia is currently approaching other companies with the intention of formulating agreements, to ensure resources are available beyond this project timeline.
2) The government is in full support of “future ready” and no risks are anticipated in terms of political interference.
3) Inconsistent or low-quality training: UNDP, with the support of Microsoft, will monitor and evaluate the quality of trainings. Furthermore, the methodology has already been tested and reiterated to ensure the best results.
4) Lack of capacity among local organizations to implement and sustain the project: A major component of this project is building the capacity of local organizations, such as innovation labs and incubators to be able to implement the future ready themselves.
Conditions for Success
• Government officials: The Federal Government of Somalia, since 2012 has made strong steps towards maturity. We will also work with the government in creating an innovation ecosystem, mechanisms, and structures that support the start-ups.
• Civil society organizations: Numerous NGOs and civil society have seen the light of day in recent years and increasingly they perform functions in a professional manner in the field of service delivery, advocacy and accountability. The intervention will support civil society organization takes up their role in development, bridging the gap between the citizens and government.
• Companies: Private Sector development – and associated with this employment creation - is one of the biggest priorities in the country and it is expected that the same and similar innovative approaches used for service delivery arrangements like challenges, innovation weekends, and hackathons but in a dedicated incubator environment can help develop businesses.
What makes Future Ready a unique innovation program is that it is not a traditional one-off training program for coding, but has transformed into a holistic long-term capacity building program, taking young participants on a journey from ideation to the implementation of solution.
The aim for UNDP Somalia is to expand Future Ready into a large-scale programme, covering all missing aspects needed to transform ideas into services and products whilst also ensuring income-generation for participants. The latter can be achieved either through the establishment of entrepreneurial ventures or finding employment opportunities incorporates and organizations. Specifically, in the long term, UNDP Somalia aims for Future-Ready to become a recognized movement in Somalia whereby the initiative it implemented across the country, reaching at least 20,000 youth within the next five (5) years, and to create at least a thousand (1000) new job opportunities.
1) There is a need for incubation, mentoring, coaching and teaching the participants how to access to finance
2) As we are trying to develop supporting ecosystems (for future coders/IT entrepreneurs, itd..) there is a need to think and act as a platform - by connecting Government with NGO and Private sector and finding a common language that will, in the end, help youth to develop, upscale and later sell their ideas and service on the domestic and international market
By the end of 2019, the UNDP aims to expand Future Ready into a full-fledged programme by localizing content, integrating STEM learning, providing access to finance through crowdfunding in addition to tapping into the network of Somali diaspora for follow-up mentoring and coaching.
With total 90 Somali young youth participated and formed 10 teams, and by the end of this training camp, they now have 10 running-live apps, 10 business plans and ready for pitching.
Examples of apps: 1) A mobile application that can help people with disability to facilitate the connection of accessible places like markets, hospitals and taxi drivers. 2) A Mobile App that connects patients with doctors and makes making appointments easy and helping Doctors, Patients and Hospital Administration. 3) A mobile application that consumers and suppliers/sellers can easily use to improve their business.