Benin – May 19 2022

A new generation of African digital entrepreneurs in training

What do you do if there are not enough jobs around you could apply for? Creating your own business and working virtually is one way! 75 young people have already gone down this path paved by SOS Children’s Villages in Benin - with great success.

According to the World Bank, young people represent 60 % of all unemployed Africans. 70 % of African workers again are “working poor and have very vulnerable jobs", states the International Labor Organization (ILO). Young people in SOS Children's Villages' care face these challenges as well. If there is no work close, how could you bring it to where you are? Together with an external training provider, SOS Children's Villages in Benin proposes a solution: virtual freelancing.

"The younger generation is more willing to accept freelance work," says Salimane Issifou, National Director of SOS Children's Villages in Benin. "We therefore cooperated with Learnio, a social enterprise providing accessible and affordable digital skills education enhanced by online mentorship. Learnio was founded in 2014 and by now has already trained over 12,000 students worldwide. Yvette and Rodrigue, two young program participants from Benin, for example already could secure a contract at MasterWizr, an international service provider specializing in the creation of professional presentation documents.

An agreement between SOS Children’s Villages Benin and Learnio was signed in August 2020. Whereas the participation of beneficiaries of SOS Children’s Villages programmes is covered by SOS Children’s Villages Benin, the trainings are also open to participants from the community with a participation fee. While the revenue is based on auditorium occupancy and number of auditoriums, it is planned that the revenue sharing model funds training fees of young people coming from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, overcoming inequalities.

Training approach

The training is based on a system of hybrid teaching, with both independent e-learning and live sessions in a physical classroom setting (for the classes in physical setting, SOS Children’s Villages Benin offers an IT lab to the participants, established with the financial support of SOS Kinderdorf e.V.). In addition, continuous mentoring beyond the course is available to allow the participant to really succeed. "There are several training formats," Salimane Issifou explains. "Online, face-to-face and even evening classes are offered, allowing the participants to follow the courses according to their personal ability." Thereby, the diverse training catalogue meets the needs of the international digital entrepreneurship market. Fourteen weeks of training, three hours per day, three different training paths are offered to the young people: Graphic Design, Web development and Digital Marketing. The course also offers classes in Business English and a training on how to successfully start in the freelancing market. "The training is more practical than theoretical which our participants highly appreciate."

Issifou adds: "In Benin, we have one computer training room with a capacity for 21 students. Since the beginning of the programme, we have had 55 young participants from SOS Children’s Villages programmes and 20 young people from the community joining the training in different groups. Initially, even more than 300 people registered – but not all got a seat. The students are mentored by an ICT Manager, an ICT Assistant and also two already successful young freelancers. Both are program participants from SOS Children's Villages and after attending the training, they were so good that we decided to include them among the mentors to gradually handover the training to them."

Finally, Learnio also offers access to a social network platform, enabling the participants to collaborate with thousands of other experts and young professionals from all over the world and exchange on the developed skills and digital entrepreneurship.

“Remarkable learning opportunity”: Impact of Learnio Training in Benin

"Learnio is a remarkable opportunity," Issifou says. "We need to create job opportunities and are already looking at 52 job contracts young people could secure – 27 on national and 25 on international level, only for young people participating in SOS Children’s Villages programmes." Out of the total 75 participants, more than 60 have already successfully completed the training and obtained a diploma.

The students’  positive feedback confirms the success of the programm: 100 % of the students are satisfied. Participant Hack agrees: "Thanks to Learnio I even became a mentor myself and also could secure jobs from local and international customers."

In parallel, SOS Children’s Villages is strengthening the social integration of programme participants through exchange and collaboration with other young participating professionals from the community.

Another benefit: Young people who took part in this program show greater self-confidence, especially in the professional environment. Additionally, their English skills have significantly improved.

Next steps

SOS Children’s Villages in Benin and Learnio are ready for the next steps: The plan is to launch new training programs, allowing more young people to have access to the freelancing market. External participant buy-in is supposed to fund participation of young people from socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds accompanied by SOS Children’s Villages. More funds for the set-up of digital (community) centers and computer labs are needed to extend the project to other porgrammes in the country, including Family Strengthening, in Natitingou, Dassa, and Pacope Parakou.

Find out more about our digital programms