On the 3rd April we will be launching our “Little by Little” Crowdfunding campaign (until 7th April 2023). Before sending out any appeals, we wanted to take a moment to give you a quick overview of what we have achieved so far, and what our next milestones will be as we aim for sustainable solutions.
So far, we have helped 76 young people, aged 15 to 25, through horticulture training. 20 are currently being trained in solar energy, and 20 others in car mechanics. Working with formal (mainly government) training centres, Aspyre Africa funded 100% of the training and support for the first two cohorts. Today we are working in collaboration with the Government Fund for Vocational Training (3FPT), which now covers all the costs of the technical training. As a result, Aspyre Africa can focus on its real added value:
Past and current students are given ongoing guidance including entrepreneurship training and advice, access to start-up loans, and monitoring.
Rather than chasing numbers, our first priority is making sure the impact on young people’s lives is long term. We aim to understand what is expected from them in their families and communities, and all the factors that determine someone’s success, from the moment they are recruited to the day they are running their successful business. We document all the challenges experienced by the training centres in providing vulnerable young people with equal opportunities. Every cohort gives us a chance to refine our approach and gather more lessons learned.
Aspyre Africa was officially recognised as a foreign charity working in Senegal in March 2023. We now have our own Senegalese team on the ground, and are about to sign a formal partnership with the Ministry of Vocational Training. These recent developments represent major milestones in our search for sustainable solutions, allowing us to share best practices, and create opportunities to influence policy and practice at the national level.
We could not have got so far without people like you believing in our work. On behalf of all our beneficiaries and the many more to come, we would like to express our deepest gratitude.
With warm wishes,
The Aspyre Africa Team
In 2022 Aspyre Africa secured funding to set up a start-up fund, and provide our graduates with flexible financial support to start their own income-generating activities.
“Having this amazing opportunity to fund our young people’s projects resolved many of the problems we were facing. Many of our trainees had their projects on paper for a while. While we did all we could to help them secure funding from existing programmes and microfinance institutions, our successes were limited. Even if they manage to secure funding, they still have to face the following challenges: the required guarantees, the high interest rates, the lack of professional support and guidance to minimize their risk of failure.” Nafi, Aspyre Africa Programmes Manager in Saint-Louis
Having control over the funds means we can fund the projects of our most committed trainees, who also have the support of their parents or their Koranic teacher. We know their strengths and weaknesses and can tailor the support to their individual needs. Aspyre Africa’s aim is to provide guidance and close monitoring so that the young person can be successful and repay the funds. She/he can then offer the same opportunity to one of her/his peers.
During our visit last November, we selected the most promising projects, helped our young people refine their business plans and provided them with the financial support they needed to start their activities. Four projects are already up and running: two in chicken-rearing and two in agriculture. By teaming up beneficiaries with more recent trainees, this also created a unique mentoring opportunity!
NEW “Green” jobs
In January a new cohort of 20 Koranic students started their training in solar energy at the Esebat training centre in Saint-Louis. Through this 6-month training they will learn to install and maintain solar panels.
“The Koranic Students have shown a keen interest in the training. During the recent public transport strike, we were worried they would not show up on time. However, they all went the extra mile to get there, including the one who lives 30km away! They are truly aware of the chance they have been given.” Nafi
“When you are in a Koranic School and you are given the chance to learn a trade without it interfering with your Koranic studies, it is all in our best interest!” Hamidou, Koranic student
This is our first cohort whose technical training is funded by the 3FPT, the Senegalese Government Fund for Vocational Training. We are most excited about this collaboration, which paves the way for sustainable solutions. Aspyre Africa continues to provide all the complementary and essential services: identification and selection of participants, breakfast, transport, mediation with their Koranic teachers, as well as individual guidance and support.
"Every beginning is hard, but they must persevere, do their exercises and support each other. This is what will lead them to their success, and the success of Nafi, Thiam and the rest of the Aspyre Africa team. I pray that they may all get along, succeed, get their certificates and work for our country!” Oustaz, Koranic Teacher
“This training will start a new page in the lives of the Koranic students, because they can learn a skill, which they can use anywhere they go, and have a secure livelihood.” Koranic Teacher
We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all the donors who continue to support our work and provide at-risk young people with life-changing opportunities. Thank you for giving these young people the chance to fulfil their aspirations.
As the next training in car mechanics is due to start, we hope you will choose to contribute what you can during our upcoming “Little by Little” campaign in April. Please share this with your contacts and invite them to consider joining you in supporting this project.
With your donations, we hope to create a world where every young person has equal opportunities to access quality vocational training, decent work and make a good life for themselves.
The Aspyre Africa Team
In this update I wanted to highlight a dilemma many young people in Senegal have to face on a daily basis: “Is it worth risking my life in order to secure a better future?” Every year countless young Senegalese men perish at sea trying to reach Europe. In 2020, 140 migrants died in just one day in a single shipwreck off the coast of Senegal.
Catching up with Abdou, an Aspyre Africa trainee, he reminded me how, in some cases, our work might literally be saving lives: "3 young men from my village died at sea trying to reach Europe... I had the chance to learn a trade here, work, and save money. Today, little by little, I have started building my very own farm!"
Abdou comes from a remote rural village in the north of Senegal. His family are seasonal farmers growing mainly maize and millet. He came to Saint-Louis aged 12 to study with a Koranic teacher. When we first met Abdou (aged 22), he was still studying the Koran, and working as a night guard at the local clinic in exchange for a room. He knew he wanted more out of life but had no clear idea. Numerous members of his family had left the country in search of a better life.
Abdou was selected to be part of our first cohort of Koranic pupils who benefited from a training in horticulture, and loved it! After receiving his certificate, he set up a chicken rearing project together with his classmates, supported by Aspyre Africa. Today Abdou has taken the first steps turning his dream into a reality: to build an integrated farm in his village. Abdou is proud of what he has achieved so far and is determined to succeed.
“Aspyre Africa not only provided me with skills, but also helped me gain experience and maturity. Your team’s presence has been a continuous source of inspiration and motivation.”
33.5% of Senegalese youth aged 15-25 are not in employment, education or training
38.5% of the population of Senegal currently lives below the poverty line
By supporting Aspyre Africa you are not just giving young people access to quality vocational training and decent work, but also empowering them to make life-changing/saving choices!
With gratitude and warm wishes from the Aspyre Africa team
Thank you for giving at-risk young people in Senegal a second chance to secure their future!
“Before meeting Nafi (Aspyre Africa) and finding out about this training in horticulture, I was ready to give up on life altogether. I had no hope for my future. But this training gave me back my taste for life. Thank you!!” (young single mum and former detainee)
Thanks to your continued support, we have been able to scale up our work this year, while continuing to focus on the sustainability of everything we develop.
Since our last update we have:
As we expanded our reach, so did our team! In Saint-Louis, Mr Khalifa Thiam has come to reinforce the team, while in Dakar, Mr Abdou Kebe is our brand new Project Manager. We are very excited to have them on board!
Last but not least, we are delighted to be partnering up with the 3FPT (The Senegalese Government Fund for Vocational Training) for the new cohorts. This has been our goal from the beginning! We look forward to working together to make the vocational education system more accessible and inclusive.
As we scale up our work, so is the need to scale up our budget and our fundraising efforts:
With gratitude & warm wishes,
Savina & The Aspyre Africa Team
We might be (a little) late… but as this is the first GlobalGiving report of 2022, we would still like to wish you and your loved ones Health, Joy and Happiness for the 11 months ahead! Thank you for your ongoing support and for making sure every young person in Senegal has equal opportunities to fulfil their aspirations. We have exciting plans for 2022, including the registration of Aspyre Africa in Senegal, which will allow us to form the partnerships we need to scale up our work and secure its sustainability. But before we leap into 2022, let us share with you some of our milestones of 2021, so you can see how your donations directly impacted our young people’s lives!
Through a partnership between the CIPA, USAID and Aspyre Africa, the technical training in horticulture of the next 2 groups of vulnerable young people was "covered" by USAID's "Feed the Future - Youth in Agriculture" programme. For these 2 groups Aspyre Africa would provide the vital additional support and services, which had been identified, developed and tested during our previous successful pilot projects working with vulnerable young people at the CIPA training centre:
Through in-person visits to the Koranic schools, the Aspyre Africa/ CIPA team:
Through individual interviews and practical exercises, we selected the most motivated and suitable candidates for the training on offer.
20 Koranic pupils were enrolled into horticulture training.
Despite the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic, the Aspyre Africa funded “Follow up & Integration Office” (CAI) at the CIPA continued to thrive and became a true hub of support for current and past trainees.
“The 2021 cohort had a thirst for knowledge and were determined to succeed in this field.”(Nafissatou - in charge of the CAI)
Past trainees were given individual guidance and support throughout the year: e.g. 4 business plans were written, submitted to funding programmes, and approved. The CAI helped 2 others secure new jobs: one managing a farm, the other gardening for different private clients both in Dakar and Saint-Louis. One Koranic pupil, supervised by the CIPA team, managed to make a total profit of £250 rearing two flocks of chickens. This money helped him fund his own agricultural campaign back in his village.
Breakfast was provided by Aspyre Africa for all Koranic pupils in training, to prevent them from having to skip classes to go and work to pay for their breakfast.
In December 2021, 14 talibes successfully graduated
“At the graduation ceremony, they were asked to present their Business Plans, elaborated during the training. The audience was really moved by the work done by these young people. We could feel the pride they felt about their achievements.
Many would never have imagined ever being in a situation like this, where they suddenly had the chance to fulfil their dreams, of having a job and being able to support themselves.” Nafissatou
Vulnerable young people need the extra support to reach their goals, and it is donors like you who made this happen! We hope that together, we will be able to brighten the future of many more young people in 2022.
As we launched into the new year, we started with the recrutement of the second group, consisting of both boys and girls this time. Most exciting is that we managed to involve key organisations and government services working with at risk young people in the process. We strongly believe that only by joining efforts will we be able to offer young people the coordinated support they deserve.
In 2022 we further plan to:
I would like to thank you once again for your ongoing support to the young people in Senegal. Together we are not just changing lives today, but also working on changing the system to guarantee equal opportunities for all young people tomorrow. Thank you for helping us make this a reality.
Savina + The Aspyre Africa Team
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