From March 9 through May 15, 2015, The Collaboratory co-hosted the first four of eight Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) Connect Camps in Tanzania and Namibia, partnering with Ohio University. The Connect Camps are regional, week-long workshops for Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) alumni and their mentees to share expertise, learn about human-centered design, test entrepreneurial approaches, and work with low-bandwidth technology for collaboration. The Camps encouraged participants from Southern and Eastern Africa to use their new resources to strengthen local communities.
From the workshops, MWF alumni and mentees initiated venture model pitches for social change projects in which they were interested. Projects ranged from an off-line digital library project for vulnerable youth, to a partnership with Open Street Maps (OSM) experts at the Tanzanian incubator “Buni Hub” exploring community mapping for local community development and eco-tourism, to increasing internally-displaced South Sudanese women living in conflict zones voice in the peace process.
While the first four of the Connect Camps are complete, the network of alumni and impact of the Young African Leadership Initiative continues to ripple. Participants connect with each other via Whatsapp, and are engaging their local communities through workshops, outreach, and friendship. After applying human centered design techniques from a Connect Camp to his youth entrepreneurship training, a Tanzanian participant stated: “We will keep the ball rolling and make a difference.”
Four more week-long camps will be hosted in Rwanda and Cote d’Ivoire in the coming year.