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IMPACT IN ACTION

Umsizi partners have a bias towards action, and we respond to that initiative and drive with supports that clear the path for their forward motion. Instead of funding a specific set of activities, we approach our partnerships with an open mind and fill gaps in ways that make the most sense to all parties. This means we fund across a diverse set of actions, and measure our success and impact across multiple reflective indicators. See below for examples of our work with partners.

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African Leadership Academy

Umsizi Fund has been actively engaged in the growth of the African Leadership Academy since its inception and continues to guide ALA’s founders as they develop and advance their vision. In addition to providing grant support and strategic guidance, for over ten years Umsizi has helped broaden ALA's network to include new partners and donors and build new elements of the ALA operation, including University support and the pilot of the Africa Careers Network.

“Umsizi's value goes beyond funding. They are true partners who roll up their sleeves to help organizations to drive impact. They helped us to build the long-term infrastructure for placing our students into jobs and internships, which today has led to thousands of internship and job placements for our young leaders. They listen deeply to our challenges, offering creative advice and catalytic patient capital. Umsizi has contributed immensely to our work, and we truly would not be where we are today without them.”

-- Fred Swaniker, Founder, African Leadership Group

 
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Youth Leader: Refugee Education Entrepreneur

Joseph Munyambanza of DRC/Uganda was well on his path after having graduated from African Leadership Academy and Westminster College in the US (funded by MasterCard Foundation). He wanted to return to Uganda to help develop COBURWAS - the education and youth entrepreneurship program that he started with other refugees in Kyangwali refugee camp.

Without Umsizi’s stipend support, he estimates his salary might have been only $300 a month, not enough to live on. Umsizi’s stipend support enabled Joseph to return home and spend three years developing COBURWAS.

“The Umsizi Fund Fellowship covered my living expenses and provided me with ongoing coaching that enabled me to sustain the growth of the organization. In 2 years, our secondary school doubled the number of children who were going to school. We enabled more refugees to attend University and trained over 50 youth leaders who have continued to run livelihood projects in Uganda. I was able to do all this because I had the support from Umsizi Fund.”

 
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WAVE (West African Vocational Education)

Umsizi Fund has supported WAVE to test moonshot goals like figuring out how to assess soft skills and match jobseekers based on compatibility. We invested in capacity building for the WAVE team and helped them recruit new partners and supporters.

“Umsizi Fund has been a true partner in every sense of the word, fully aligning with our mission to level the playing field for every young African to access the skills and the economic opportunity to become what they imagine. They have provided patient and flexible capital, always based on the question of "where can our funding be most helpful for you right now?" and recognizing that those at the frontline should get to decide where/how capital is deployed. Our impact to date would not be possible without the trust-based impact-focused long-term partnership we have developed with the Umsizi Fund.”

-- Misan Rewane, Founder and CEO, WAVE, Nigeria

 
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Youth Leader: Mauritanian Filmaker

Mohamed Echkouna produced a narrative short film promoting womens' right to an education, called Trail of Hope. Umsizi funded the film so that promising filmmaker could learn the craft of visual storytelling.

On the deserted highway Nouakchott-to-Nouadhibou, a young self-centered taxi driver meets a woman whose story becomes a stimulating experience on morality and responsibility towards women’s rights.

 
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Increasing Youth Employment Outcomes:
Behavioral Nudge Pilots

Umsizi Fund introduced the Peer Learning Network to an expert on running pilots using behavioral economics. With Umsizi’s support, three members decided to conduct experiments to see if nudges could be applied to address a pain point in their operation. Active experiments include: increasing job retention rates in entry-level jobs in the MENA region, increasing English language levels for employment in Rwanda, and increasing incomes for unemployed youth and improving job placement via life skills training in Nigeria.

For more details on one of the successful experiments in Nigeria, read the case study below or a summary on LinkedIn.

 
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Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

Umsizi Fund sensed the need for greater collaboration and shared learning among leaders in the youth employment ecosystem, and formed the Peer Learning Network with several founding members, including Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator.

“The Peer Learning Network has been able to link together disparate players within the youth employment ecosystem across Africa, MENA, and globally. The PLN and Umsizi has created an enabling environment, bringing in different players within the youth employment landscape, and allowing individual partners to share insights and learnings, identify challenges and potential solutions across contexts, develop trusting relationships with each other, and ultimately create a conducive atmosphere to scaling impact. It has allowed us to develop and articulate our own models with greater clarity and precision.”

— Sharmi Surianarain, Solutions Design Lead, Harambee

 
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Youth Leader: Secondary School Entrepreneur

Madelle Mabong Kangha co-founded JumpStart Academy Africa to provide students between the ages of 15 and 19 with real-world, hands-on learning. Umsizi provided Madelle with funds so she could get her NGO started (and offered a successful matching grant to attract other donors).