UNICEF’S ILK aims at tackling the challenge of lack of opportunities for youth and adolescents to develop professional capacities. Therefore, it offers opportunities for young men and women in terms of increasing youth employment and participation through project management facilitation. ILK provides youth, adolescents and CSOs with the needed professional expertise through BYFY (By Youth for Youth) and YEP (Youth Empowerment Platform) as its main pillars. PEN is the implementing partner of the two pillars.
BYFY empowers youth and adolescents as young founders into transforming their social impact ideas into projects, providing them with first-hand experience in developing and implementing projects, programs, and social ventures. BYFY acts as a “pre-incubator” bridging the gap between ideas and implementation – by providing funding, equipment, office space, and most importantly, capacity building through training and mentorship. BYFY’s main activities include UPSHIFT: Social Impact Workshop and StartUP: Social Venture Workshop.
UPSHIFT: Social Impact Workshop is a social entrepreneurship and innovation flagship program of the Lab that teaches youth and adolescents from the most marginalized areas on solving social problems and imparts in them transferable skills usable in all aspects of life. The Lab has already supported 170 groups of young founders to develop products and services to help their communities. The array of ideas that youth and adolescents come up with is vast and impressive.
StartUp: Social Venture Workshop represents the second-gate funding opportunity for previous youth-led social impact products and services developed through UPSHIFT: Social Impact Workshop. The activity includes experiential learning in market research, SWOT and KSF analysis, and use of the Lean Canvas and Business Model Toolkit, as well as additional financial support towards the establishment of social enterprises. The workshop’s main goals are fostering entrepreneurial culture and employment for youth and adolescents. Support is offered up to EUR 5,000 financial support from UNICEF, access to co-working space and a library of equipment, 6 months of mentorship from a professional staff mentor, training, and access to design, marketing and communications, and product development support and services from the Lab.
By conducting a large number of outreach activities, implementation of UPSHIFT: Social Impact Workshop, Ponder Workshop, Podium Workshop, and Kosovo Volunteers Platform, BYFY and YEP provides youth, adolescents and CSOs with the opportunity to gain the needed professional experience through a unique, apprenticeship-like process in an environment that recognizes failure as an integral element of the learning process.
The second pillar, Youth Empowerment Platform works on two fronts. Firstly, it provides Kosovo’s youth and adolescents with the skills to engage with decision-makers through creative, and sustained social and political action. Secondly, it generates demand among youth and adolescents – and provides opportunities for them to participate on social dialogue through advocacy community outreach initiatives, high impact public campaigns, active citizenship through volunteerism, social involvement in public mediums, etc. YEP’s main activities involve the followings:
Podium (Youth Advocacy) – is a program that teaches youth and adolescents from marginalized groups in Kosovo on how to advocate about gender issues, sexual orientation, and other topics in regards to social relations. It also focuses on advocacy for the rights and needs of their communities. Podium strengthens the skills of adolescents on community needs assessment, on building and managing a campaign, on lobbying with decision-makers on community issues through the use of media.
KoVo (Kosovo Volunteers) – The Innovations Lab has crafted Kosovo’s first and only match-making platform between Civil Society Organizations and Volunteers. This platform helps youth and adolescents learn more about volunteering opportunities and experience it. Such opportunities will provide youth and adolescents with double benefits: they will get officially certified on the obtained invaluable skills and experience, and they will get to help the community. All the above-mentioned will be conducted while supporting CSOs to achieve the developmental goals for Kosovo.
Ponder (Critical Media Literacy) is a non-formal educational response that expands the notion of literacy to include the mass and social media. Given that youth and adolescents are nowadays overloaded with a sheer volume of information and what they absorb shapes their beliefs and opinions. Thus it is crucial for youth and adolescents to be conscious and aware of the information they encounter and evaluate it from a critical perspective that enables them to recognize and challenge indoctrination, anti-social messages, and radicalization. Thus, Ponder provides youth and adolescents with the much needed critical thinking skills and empowers them to understand and challenge subjective information. Besides, youth and adolescents will have the opportunity to do short-term internship in media institutions in Kosovo, where they can practice their knowledge gained during the program.
Innovations Lab Kosovo through BYFY and YEP pillars has catalyzed positive social change by harnessing the creative potential of Kosovo’s youth and adolescents and by developing practical innovations for the benefit of youth and children, through the implementation process of Youth led Projects.
This project contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals: