NIGERIA — As the world continues to become more dependent on technology, those who grow up without access to it fall further and further behind. The Youth For Technology Foundation aims to solve this problem, using technology and education to help youth and marginalized populations identify and solve problems in their communities. Its work focuses on low-income areas in the United States and Africa, and it has had many successes.
The Foundation operates by partnering with low-income communities and empowering women and young people with basic skills and a drive to solve problems critically. The organization describes its work — based around mobile phones, the Internet and community radio — as “human-centered and human-scaled, easily replicable, focuses on locally available resources and is labor intensive but energy efficient.”
The foundation was started by Nigerian woman Njideka Harry, who became aware of the technological gap through her own experiences. She attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after growing up in Nigeria, and found technology to be a huge adjustment. She did not know how to type on a laptop, a skill required for all her work while studying. She later drew on this experience to create the Youth For Technology Foundation to help students in developing and rural areas.
The Huffington Post reports that youth who move from poor rural communities to developed areas are at risk. They are often unable to support themselves in more expensive areas, and resort to dangerous or criminal activity in order to survive.
The Youth For Technology Foundation worked with MasterCard on a project that recruited and trained women from across the Niger Delta region in business and management skills. The program included classroom and online training as well as networking opportunities and information about many different aspects of the field.
It can be difficult for women to secure credit and small-business loans when men are seen as less of a risk, and this creates a vicious cycle in which other women are dissuaded from starting businesses by the lack of other female success stories. Evidence from Brazil shows that when a mother has control over the family finances, the survival rates of her children increases by 20 percent.
The Youth for Technology Foundation hopes to create a brighter future by empowering women and marginalized groups in impoverished areas to take control of their lives and succeed in modern industries.
– Eva Kennedy