Welcome to our brand new Aspyre Africa website and thank you for checking out our blog! I would like to start by telling you a little more about why Aspyre Africa came into existence and why our journey starts in Senegal…
Protecting the right to education of street-connected children has always been one of my major concerns, and vocational training in particular one of my top priorities ever since I started working in the sector more than a decade ago. Over the years I have visited great projects providing good quality vocational training, sometimes with life-changing impact on young people’s lives. However, too often, career choices were limited and gender-biased. Trainers were qualified technicians but were often at a loss when it came to mentoring youth in need of a little more support and encouragement. I have seen many young people miss out on their chance to a better future, being expelled as they were unable to adapt to a rigid training programme. For those who graduated there was often no guarantee of finding a job in an already saturated market and no support to set up their own businesses. In a nutshell, the vocational training on offer in many cases was neither tailored to the profiles of the target beneficiaries nor the local job market.
What was missing was an approach that is multi-sectorial, one that is not just charitable or focusing just on setting up small businesses, but capable of connecting the vocational training and business sector in a strategic and efficient manner. It is to fill this gap that we decided to set up Aspyre Africa.
But is youth unemployment – and this problem in particular – not a concern worldwide? Including in the UK? Certainly! But it is in Senegal that we believe Aspyre Africa has the potential to really make a difference as a small charity.
Since my first visit to Senegal in 2001, my commitment on both a professional and personal level has continued to grow. Working for different organisations over the years, I have participated in the mapping of NGOs working with street-connected children in Dakar, organised and helped facilitate a Civil Society Forum for Francophone Africa on street children in Mbour and more recently designed and delivered a Comic Relief funded research and consultation project in 6 regions of Senegal.
Trusted relationships and shared visions were built over the years, and with Association Jeunesse Espoir (AJE) as local partner, Aspyre Africa is confident that Senegal is the right place for us to launch this pilot project.
This blog is where we will be sharing insights into our thinking, the latest news and impact of our work, but also bits of research and other links connected to the work we do that may be of interest to you.
We hope you will join us on our journey. Don’t forget to sign up to get our latest news.