Prior to working with LivelyHoods, some of our youth were stealing, some were washing cars, and some had children of their own with little means to support them. Unemployed youth in urban slums cost millions in lost potential and contribute to civil unrest and insecurity, compounding social issues in a country with 75% youth unemployment. Why not leverage their talent, creativity and potential towards creating change in their community?
After interviewing almost 300 youth in urban slums to assess their assets, we learned that all of them had at one point sold something, from mangoes to cocaine. Leveraging these skills, we create jobs for youth in a branded sales agent network (iSmart). Youth get products on consignment, and earn a commission on each product sold. Now, previously marginalized youth are shifting their identities from social burdens to agents of change as they distribute life-changing products to their communities
For the youth with whom we work, a job represents a transformative shift from a life of instability, insecurity and dependence to a life of freedom, dignity and pride. Some of our youth have tripled their income, savings and have been able to afford school fees for their children and siblings. After working with us, our youth report an increase in their self-confidence and visions for the future. Former employees have gone on to become teachers, pursue their education, and start businesses.