YoMobi – Enhancing Youth Learning, Engagement and Support

Written by Yasmin Shapurjee

yoMobi – enhancing Youth Learning, Engagement and Support

CTIF22 is bringing the best of both virtual and in-person experiences to showcase and celebrate innovation in the civic tech field across Africa.  The virtual exhibition is taking place on AirMeet and features various African civic tech exhibitors. 
Yomobi Mobile Platform

We recently spoke to Jason Bygate, CEO of Capacitate Social Solutions, and founder of YoMobi, a social enterprise that aims to connect youth with opportunities to strengthen their skills, development, and employability. Jason will be one of the exhibitors at CTIF22.

Tell us about YoMobi platform. What does it aim to do?

The YoMobi journey began some time ago, as a social enterprise that works with investors and implementors across the sector, we recognised the pivotal role that technology could play to increase efficiencies, improve effectiveness and expand the scale of interventions across the social economy. The objective was to build a platform cooperative for the Youth Sector, a suite of tools that could be operated by Youth organisations to support their work and create greater efficiency, effectiveness, and scale for their interventions. YoMobi is an organisational support tool.

Our solution design was based on the understanding that users are not homogenous entities but have diverse personas that are constantly evolving. One of the key elements that we built into the YoMobi platform was a basic needs assessment. Developed with PwC, this assessment incorporated a range of intervention frameworks to help us understand where an individual user was on their journey, and what they needed for their next step toward success. The design was a co-creation process, incorporating input from youth practitioners, youth themselves and leading academic work produced locally and internationally. YoMobi is the result of that collective effort. 

What inspired the idea to create YoMobi? 

The objective was to build a platform cooperative for the Youth Sector, a suite of tools that could be operated by Youth organisations to support their work and create greater efficiency, effectiveness and scale for their interventions. YoMobi is an organisational support tool.

Our solution design was based on the understanding that users are not homogenous entities but have diverse personas that are constantly evolving. One of the key elements that we built into the YoMobi platform was a basic needs assessment. Developed with PwC, this assessment incorporated a range of intervention frameworks to help us understand where an individual user was on their journey, and what they needed for their next step toward success. The design was a co-creation process, incorporating input from youth practitioners, youth themselves and leading academic work produced locally and internationally. YoMobi is the result of that collective effort. 

What challenges did you encounter creating and developing YoMobi?

Unfortunately, through our work and ongoing research into the use of technology across the sector, we became increasingly aware of a growing digital divide that was manifesting at an organisational level. Much like the one that affects individuals, we saw that there were limitations in terms of: 

Resources 

Many organisations do not have the financial resources or knowledge to access technologies that could enhance their interventions and operations. Funders remain reluctant to fund infrastructure and internal capacity.

Skills and knowledge 

Technology skills are limited across the sector where the focus is primarily on sector specific skills, operations and programme delivery. This means that there is limited capacity to acquire, implement and manage technology.

Fit for purpose Solutions 

There is a disconnect between solution developers and civil society organisations. CSOs are ill equipped to articulate their needs and solution providers have a limited understanding of the context. 

The result is solutions that are not fit for purpose.

Fragmentation 

Interventions continue to be developed and implemented in silos, solutions and tools are not built to be shared by multiple organisations working on the 

same issues. There is an urgent need to integrate the efforts of civil society and government. 

Are there any plans to upscale YoMobi?

 
As with most systems Yomobi is a living platform that will evolve and adapt to the needs of its users. To understand the needs of these users as well as to drive awareness, use and adoption, we will be launching a support platform for the youth community of practice. In partnership with the Zibuza team, Yubuntu will allow organisations to engage, collaborated, share resources and compare best practice.  

While there are some incredible benefits that can be realised through technology, our research and early platform failures taught us a very important lesson – technology is not like a “field of dreams” where “if you build it they will come”. Developing fit for purpose technology is only the first part of the solutions. In order for a solution to be successful it requires a consistent human touch that will:

  • Build awareness about the technology
  • Drive adoption of the technology
  • Support onboarding and usage
  • Provide ongoing support
  • Build a community of users

For this reason, we are setting up the Youth Co-Operator. The YCo will be staffed by previously unemployed youth who will be trained as YoMobi operators and Yubuntu community builders. Their role will be to provide the human touch listed above. The YCo will provide these youth with a point of entry into the digital economy and provide experience operating systems. In addition, these youth will serve as key advisors in defining the development roadmap for YoMobi. In addition to supporting YoMobi, the YCo will offer support for AlsoMe!, Yubuntu, Zibuza, Capacitate Community Grants Platform, SoCapx, Capacitate Community Hub, GirlPower and GirlConnect, and hopefully a range of other partner platforms built with UNICEF and others. 

Our intention is to roll out the entire model across Africa and beyond. The implementation model incorporates YoMobi and various other platforms, the YCo-Operator, a local governance structure and steerco and funding and support from various global agencies and investors. 

What challenges did you encounter along this journey? Any lessons or reflections on your experience creating YoMobi? 

While there are some incredible benefits that can be realised through technology, our research and early platform failures taught us a very important lesson – technology is not like a “field of dreams” where “if you build it they will come”. Developing fit for purpose technology is only the first part of the solutions. In order for a solution to be successful it requires a consistent human touch that will:

  • Build awareness about the technology
  • Drive adoption of the technology
  • Support onboarding and usage
  • Provide ongoing support
  • Build a community of users

Some of the biggest challenges in developing this and other platforms remains collaboration, or rather the lack thereof. There are various participants in the youth ecosystem that speak about collaboration and integration but really are only interested in their own agendas, protecting their own initiatives and position within the ecosystem. These stakeholders are threatened by disruption and have lost sight of the primary focus of all our collective work – to help our youth make the journey to become productive, contributing members of South Africa and to build a future that is prosperous and equitable. 

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