The Digital Jobs Africa Network: Increasing Effectiveness through Knowledge Exchange

three women reading from a tablet

Making Cents International is forming and facilitating a network of organizations who offer demand-driven training for digital jobs and job placement to disadvantaged, high potential youth. The network is comprised of 16 of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa (DJA) grantees and partners in Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The network kicked off in October 2014. It’s a mix of newer entrants and seasoned organizations that includes Digital Divide Data in Kenya, CareerBox Limited in South Africa, and Paradigm Initiative in Nigeria, to name a few.

Filling the Gap: This initiative addresses the absence of a sustainable network that offers demand-driven training for digital jobs and job placement to disadvantaged, high potential youth. The network advances their common goals and helps share tools and methods for addressing their mutual problems and responding to opportunities.

Value of a Well-Run Network: A participant-driven, well-facilitated network offers its members and grantor a greater return on the investment of the time and resources they are putting into their core activities. Efficiencies come from network members being able to:

  • Collaborate so they can achieve more – efficiently and together;

  • Tap into colleagues’ expertise and gain from existing tools and methods available to address the problems faced by organizations who offer youth digital training and job placement and;

  • Validate activities as well as benchmark achievements.

Approach: Making Cents’ approach to actively engage the core network, and the broader stakeholder group, involves the following elements that have proven effective in similar network building and community of practice initiatives:

  • A clear, time-bound purpose – along with a compelling value proposition for both knowledge providers and knowledge users;

  • Systematic facilitation throughout the lifecycle of the project that intentionally uses virtual and live exchanges;

  • Inclusion of relevant people and organizations with the knowledge, information, and best practices to contribute, consume, and;

  • Selection of appropriate technology that supports the core network.

Network formation around a priority goal: To understand the highest priority topic which the network could advance during one year, Making Cents employed a three-step market research process. The outcome? Members elected to focus their year 1 network activities on “Identify(ing) how to better use technology and standardized processes to screen recruits for highest potential by generating access to a common tool, or set of components, that drive screening practices.”

Learning Products: Amongst other outcomes, the network will generate a tool and other information for donors and implementers to use in assessing the maturity of an organization’s screening processes. These will be launched by network members at Making Cents International’s 2015 Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit taking place October 6-8, 2015 in Washington DC. It is anticipated that they will also be disseminated via a webinar open to the global impact sourcing as well as the youth workforce development communities.

This initiative has received support from The Rockefeller Foundation.