Established in 2001, the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana) is an ECOSOC-accredited NGO which is at the forefront of youth development policy, practice and research in Ghana. Aside its main office in Accra, the organisation has other coordination points in all ten regions of the country.
YES-Ghana has key competencies in three programme areas: Youth Employment & Entrepreneurial Development; Youth Policy & Governance; and Youth Participation & Active Citizenship. Within these areas, the organisation has more than a decade’s experience in developing and managing programmes combining multi-prong approaches and strategies including:
- Delivering a range of employability and soft skills training to youth
YES-Ghana has been helping young people gain knowledge about themselves, their sexuality, and employment preparation; exploring attitudes and skills about growing up, gender roles, risk-taking, and ethnic diversity; and equipping young people with a range of skills to make them active members of their local communities and to succeed in life. Where necessary, we deliver literacy and numeracy training on top of life skills programmes. Also, YES-Ghana delivers training for youth in essential skills for succeeding in wage and self-employment, including building young people’s capacity for business development, and equipping them with employability skills such as time & stress management, interpersonal relations, problem solving, goal-setting, decision-making, negotiation, communications, confidence building, teamwork, among others. Using specially developed curriculum, these life skills and employability programmes mainly target disadvantaged youth aged 15 to 29 who are out of school, out of work, or working in dangerous environments.
- Facilitating access to youth-inclusive financial services
Integral to YES-Ghana’s service delivery strategies in youth employment and entrepreneurship development is a conscious effort to work closely with financial institutions to develop tailor-made products for target youth participants. Most recently, YES-Ghana successfully collaborated with HFC Boafo Microenterprise Ltd to develop customised credit and savings products to over 500 youth beneficiaries as part of an urban youth employment programme. Beyond linking youth to financial services, YES-Ghana also provides on-going training in financial literacy to enable youth manage their personal finances.
- Providing career and business advisory services
Through its flagship ‘Career Resource Centre’, YES-Ghana has gained a wealth of experience in career support and youth business development. Altogether, we have reached over 5,000 youth with various forms of support, including providing youth with resources relevant for their personal development and career planning, conducting local career planning forums, offering business start-up support (including registering a business, writing business plans, marketing and customer management, etc), facilitating access to start-up capital, providing one-on-one career guidance and counselling, among others.
- Coalition building
Underlying all of YES-Ghana’s work is coalition building – one of the organisation’s strongest competencies. Each programme is grounded on a coalition of youth and youth organisations, as well as partners from local and central government, civil society, traditional and religious leaders, among others. In the past, we have successfully coordinated the following programme specific coalitions: Youth Employment Network, MDGs Youth Platform, Youth Network on Climate Change, Youth Platform on Oil and Gas, and the Youth Manifesto Coalition. But in the spirit of harmonisation and strengthening the youth voice, starting in 2012, all these coalitions convened by YES-Ghana have merged into the ‘Voices of Youth Coalition’ – a youth-led platform for advocacy and action for youth participation in shaping the development agenda in Ghana comprising young people of diverse backgrounds and regions across the country. Through this Coalition, we are facilitating young people’s engagement among themselves on shared challenges and opportunities, and creating a multi-stakeholder platform with various development partners for collective action. With a database of over 50,000 youth members and a directory of youth organisations across all ten regions of Ghana, YES-Ghana has become the nation’s foremost and most extensive youth development organisation.
- Advocating for pro-youth empowerment policies
At YES-Ghana, our advocacy efforts are mainstreamed into all programmes. Advocacy is our way of demonstrating our results as good-practice examples of ‘what works’ in various sectors of youth development. The Voices of Youth Coalition is our main channel for broad base advocacy and campaigning. Based on its flagship product, the Ghana Youth Manifesto, the Coalition is continuously engaging policy makers and development partners through appropriate channels, with the view to integrating the recommended actions of the Manifesto into national youth policy. Over time, the Coalition will use the Youth Manifesto as yardstick for measuring progress in specific areas of youth policy and national development. Thus, youth policy advocacy remains a continuous process for YES-Ghana.