Call for ideas on economic opportunities for youth, Amplify IDEO

CHALLENGE: How might we expand economic opportunities for youth in East Africa?

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In the Youth Empowerment Challenge we are collaboratively designing solutions that expand economic opportunities for youth in East Africa.

We’re running this challenge because we aspire for all young people (ages 15-35) in East Africa to find themselves in positions of learning, growth and possibility. In order for this vision to become reality, young people must be equipped with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities that will pave the way to success. So we’re calling our global community to action: how might we expand economic opportunities for youth in East Africa?

We’re looking for a wide range of solutions including ideas that motivate and inspire youth, build skills that allow them to participate in the economy, support their transition into financial stability, include the private sector, or harness the potential for the participation of young people in the region’s most lucrative sectors.

Let’s focus on designing solutions that meet current needs and equip young people in East Africa with the tools to meet the demands of the future.


The continent of Africa is home to more young people than anywhere else on Earth. Youth in Africa have the potential to unleash the economic power of the continent – and lift millions out of poverty – but only if they have access to the skills, information and resources they need to achieve economic stability.

In East Africa, nearly half of the population is under 15 years old. With increasing economic and political integration in the region, there is an unparalleled chance to harness the capacity of this generation. But the challenges are great. In Kenya, 20% of young people lack formal employment – the highest percentage in the region. Unemployment rates only tell part of the story – they don’t include the large numbers of young people in the informal sector, those who are not looking for work, those in both the formal and informal labour market, or those excluded from the labor market because of gender, disability or stigma.

The obstacles young people face in accessing economic opportunities are complex. Schools may not provide the skills that make young people job ready. Vocational training programs may not teach skills that match with market demands, or provide the support needed to give young people a foothold into stable employment. Sectors like agriculture, which hold tremendous potential, can be difficult to access because of established value chains, or association with an older generation. The vast majority of employment options occur in the informal sector, where mentorship, safe work and good pay are harder to come by. Across the board, we need new approaches to what exists – and to build young people’s capacity in the transferable skills that lay the foundation for a lifetime of growth.

Design Principles 

As we develop solutions to the challenge question, there are five principles we’d like you to keep in mind:

  • Design for gender equality and inclusion
  • Youth as change agents
  • Skills that match markets
  • Design for transitions
  • Design for long-term safety and security 

Read more about our design principles here

The Prize

At least five winners of this challenge will receive a grant of between $50,000 and $150,000, an invitation to four day human-centered design bootcamp and ongoing design support from

Evaluation Criteria

We are looking for ideas that answer our challenge question and are targeted at youth in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda between 18-35. You can take a look at our detailed criteria here.

About Amplify

Amplify is a series of ten innovation challenges bringing increased collaboration and a human-centered design approach to international aid. Amplify is a joint initiative of OpenIDEO, and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It is made possible through DFID funding. Learn more about our program here.

How do I win?


  • Clearly articulate an answer to the challenge question for youths ages 15-35.
  • Address a problem that is pressing and real by articulating the gap this idea is lling.
  • Are new or in early stages but related to the core competencies of your organization/group.
  • Are submitted by people or organizations that have worked in their sector for at least one year.
  • Are submited by people or organizations who have worked in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania or Uganda.
  • Worked in your sector for at least a year.
  • At least one year of work experience in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania or Uganda.
  • What will I win?

At least five winning ideas will recieve:

  • Training on the theory and practice on human-centered design alongside other winners as part of our Design Bootcamps.
  • $10,000 to begin prototyping (test) their ideas for 3 months.
  • A share of $500,000 in funding.
  • Technical assistance and design support from designers at
Challenge Deadline

Youth Empowerment October 31 , 2016

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the needs of intended bene ciaries.
  • Take a new approach to a problem, or use an existing approach in a new way.
  • Have improved in response to feedback.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the context of proposed solution.
  • Are considered desirable by experts in the sector.
  • Would benefit from the amount of funding and design support offered by Amplify.

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