Youth Justice

"Transforming young people from Subject to Citizen"


The Youth Justice program aims to empower young people across several African countries—Senegal, Togo, Madagascar, Ghana and South Africa (first year only). Building on the achievements of Youth Justice I and II, the program’s objective was: “Youth in conflict with the law and those at risk of offending have taken steps towards active citizenship in all programme countries.” The program was coordinated by the YMCA-YWCA of Sweden. Day-to-day management and execution of a majority if the program's objectives were done by YMCA Senegal, YMCA Togo, YMCA Madagascar, and YMCA Ghana, supported by the Africa Alliance of YMCAs (AAYMCA). YMCA South Africa participated in the first year of the program.

A core concept in the program has been to strengthen the resilience of the target groups. This has been defined as “the ability to manage and cope with stresses and shocks”. According to the program’s Theory of Change (ToC), youth at risk and in conflict with the
law will, through strengthened resilience, be able to overcome the many barriers and challenges that they are facing and be able to have a sense of belonging, claim their human rights and contribute to their communities as active citizens.

The program uses the PowerSpace method, developed by AAYMCA, to foster this resilience. The AAYMCA also developed broad implementation guidelines for PowerSpaces that are anchored on contextual participatory interpretation. The process methodology uses an innovative and Human Centered Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation (3I) Workshop Model to facilitate delivery. The 3I Workshops are 5-day Human Centered Design (HCD) workshops that involve the participation of stakeholders, duty bearers, youth, YMCA staff and CSO partner organizations. Within the 3I Workshop framework, AAYMCA facilitators use Human Centered Design tools including Persona Mapping, Interviews, Focus Group Discussions, Customer Journey Maps, Stakeholder Analyses, Problem Statement Ideation and Validated learning matrices to identify complex problems and co-create solutions with youth participants and staff. The 3I workshops are followed by the development of prototype projects which identify and test the most appropriate strategies for intervention for vulnerable youth, including the viability, for example, of giving micro loans to vulnerable young people who otherwise could not attain loans in the mainstream banking sector. 

MacDonald Gumbo, Zimbabwe YMCA

After the three-day training of financial literacy and entrepreneurship by YMCA under the Youth Justice Project, McDonald is singing praises on how his life has been transformed following an opportunity of networking and interaction. 

The 20-year-old was already in business, but there were some hurdles as he felt like he was swimming in the deep end without the superlative expertise of how to administer a business productively. 

“I had attended none business training seminar, the one facilitated by YMCA was the first and it had a significant impact on me and my business as l realized that creativity and uniqueness make the secret recipe for a lucrative business. I learnt a lot about running a sustainable business”. 

The sprouting entrepreneur received a loan of USD80 for boosting his business as he strives to make an honest living out of by the busy street corner of Cowdry Park. He has paid back USD$20 and is yet to pay the remaining balance, and his business seems to promising. 

Though the young entrepreneurs try to sail through, they face a lot of challenges of having to bear the burden of their responsibilities, which makes the funds to be diverted to other needs and not the business. 

McDonald said “After receiving the money l faced a problem as l had to pay my rentals which were already two months behind. When I got the money, three-quarters of it was channeled to the clearing of that debt and then, with the remaining USD$30, l set myself up and continue the business.” 

On an average, the business makes USD $20 a day, and he re-stocks daily. His selling spot is strategically located as there is no competition because he has built a strong customer base. 

Macdonald’s vision is to expand his business and become the supplier to other vendors and supermarkets not only those but has also diversified his business into printing.