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“Future Forward – Ecosystem exchange event”
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“Future Forward – Ecosystem exchange event”

Alphonse Akouyu

A hot debate topic in Africa centres on how the twenty-first century African youth can contribute to the growth of a continent in need of its young people to take it to another level. Alphonse Akouyu, 22, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Cameroon, reports on a conference designed to move #AfricaYouthFwd.

The Future Forward partnership between Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation aims to identify and convene innovators, thought leaders, and young ones to discuss solutions that can move #AfricaYouthFwd.

In the light of this lofty goal, one of the new additions to the 2016 Ashoka Change Makers course on youth employment was the creation of Future Forward Eco-System Exchange Events with the aim of bringing thought leaders to learn and share experiences in their journey toward changing society. From Harare to Johannesburg, Accra to Lagos, these events witnessed the participation of stakeholders with a passion for development in their countries and in the continent as a whole.

After a six weeks online professional training on “The Future of Work in Africa: Innovations in Youth Employment,” Cameroonian course participants alongside other young leaders gathered in the coastal city of Limbe on the 9th of July to discuss how to move #CameroonYouthFwd.

The early morning breeze from the Atlantic Ocean welcomed participants from different regions of the country as they made their way to Savoy Palmz Hotel Conference centre for the Cameroon Future Forward Eco-System Exchange Event. The event brought together 68 emerging innovators with mentors, thought leaders, leading social entrepreneurs and youth organisations for a journey of learning, inspiration and connection. This was focused on scaling the impact of social innovators to transform the youth employment landscape in Cameroon and beyond. It featured capacity building and peer-to-peer feedback sessions; workshops led by thought leaders; and networking opportunities between organisations working on improving youth employment conditions in Cameroon.

In his opening remarks, Gabila Franklin, the coordinator for the Limbe exchange called participants to make good use of the event by building networks and partnerships for development. To him, the challenges faced by society provides opportunity for unique solutions, and the search for these unique and sustainable solutions were some of the reasons for bringing innovators to Limbe.

Alphonse pic 2Asho 2Achaleke Christian, Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2016 and Coordinator of Local Youth Corner, was guest speaker for the event. He spoke on youth employment and peace. According to him, an entrepreneurial and employment ecosystem is the best platform to prevent youth radicalisation. Moreover, the only way to move the future forward is to be the change we want to see.

The next speaker was Morfaw David, a 2016 Queen’s Young Leader and the C.E.O of Poult-Vault; a social enterprise which deals in chickens and related by-products. He spoke on social innovation. According to him, it is from impossibility that there is social innovation and moving the future forward would require a change in our mindsets.

There were also two focused panel sessions on “Thinking Big: Scaling for Organisational Growth” and “How to Relate from the Top”. The different speakers highlighted the points of partnership, leaders grooming leaders, consistency in performance, patience in times of adversity and how to effectively deal with failure. An Agro-Innovation session in creating shared value was hosted by Atem Ernest, CEO of Agro-Hub and winner of the 2016 Nestle Prize featured. The talk by Gabriel AshuArrey, founder of Wealth Farms, on ‘Wealth Transfer in Africa’ ended the interesting series.

The Limbe Eco-System Exchange was the first formal event organised by Ashoka and the Mastercard foundation in Cameroon. Youths with different views and solutions made their voices in a series of thought provoking and ground breaking sessions.

The big question obviously had to be: What next from Limbe? For sure, networks and partnerships were made during the event and this led to another question of ‘How?’ However, according to the coordinator of the event, it was the beginning of better days to come in youth development activities in the Cameroon.

As young leaders departed from the shores of the Atlantic city, the hope was that the power of the waves in their dreams and hearts should be a shining light directed towards working together for an emerging Cameroon in 2035.

photo credits: Alphonse Akouyu
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About me:

Hello everyone this is your friend Akouyu Alphonse from Bamenda located in the North West Region of Cameroon. I graduated from the Catholic University of Cameroon Bamenda after studying Banking and Finance. I hope to become a Business/International Relations expert.

My areas of interest are serving as Journalist especially on Sports (football) and societal issues aimed at inspiring people to believe in themselves and volunteerism.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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