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Asset Based Community Development Innovation Center


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Asset Based Community Development Innovation Center

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Our main dream is to convert our target villages into places where young people would like to stay and have opportunities to develop.

The problem we are trying to solve:

The current cohort of youth is the largest the world has ever seen. As the World Bank has noted, youth make up 25 percent of the working age population worldwide, but 47 percent of the unemployed population. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) youth employment is current global priority and is likely to remain as such in coming years, particularly in light of the recent COVID-19 and war crisis, which disproportionately affected youth in Armenia. According to the ILO youth unemployment in Armenia is 31.51% (2019).

Entering the labour force is a critical life transition for youth. Unfortunately, vulnerable youth populations are particularly ill‐prepared for this important transition and face a range of barriers in gaining employment or securing stable livelihood opportunities.

Globally, disadvantaged youth do not have proper foundational education or job training and lack examples of how to behave in the workplace. Few opportunities exist to develop the characteristics employers are seeking, such as working in teams, professionalism, problem solving and strong communication skills. This is problematic because young people who spend long periods of time looking for employment or have a hard time keeping a job can have increased difficulties securing employment later in life. Longer‐term unemployment can be debilitating for young people. Experts call the negative long‐term consequences of early unemployment “scarring effects.”

The longer a person is unemployed, the longer the scarring effects are likely to last and impact on their personal well‐being.  Youth look not only for a livelihood, but for dignity, purpose and meaning in their lives. The possession of a trade that is aligned with their interests and personal aspirations is essential to a young person’s personal wellbeing.

However, growing and persistent youth unemployment has caused many youths to struggle with the erosion of self‐confidence. For youth, the inability to find quality work increases vulnerability and feelings of uselessness, which can lead to personal and socially destructive behaviour. Youth unemployment also has broader economic and social consequences. Underutilisation of young people in the labour market can result in a vicious

circle of intergenerational poverty and social exclusion. Youth who are unemployed face higher risks of engaging in illicit activities such as gang activity, substance abuse, and other behaviours that jeopardize their long‐term employability prospects and successful integration into society.

It is clear that both the barriers and the stakes for young people in obtaining and keeping secure employment are high. Now more than ever, there is a need for programs that assist youth to attain marketable‐skills as well as the knowledge, behaviours and attitudes to enter the workforce or to create self‐employment opportunities and to maintain them in the long term.

The European Commission states that rural areas are diverse and include many important regions. However, some rural areas, and in particular those which are the most remote, depopulated or dependent on agriculture, face particular challenges as regards growth, jobs and sustainability in the coming years. These include:

  • lower levels of income,
  • an unfavourable demographic situation,
  • lower employment rates and higher unemployment rates,
  • a slower development of the tertiary sector,
  • weaknesses in skills and human capital,
  • a lack of opportunities for women and young people,
  • a lack of necessary skills in parts of the agricultural sector and food processing industry

The focus of ABCD Innovation Center is more on young people living in rural areas which are less developed and more remote, those we refer to when talking about 'geographically isolated' or 'geographically disadvantaged' areas. This can be mountain villages, distant valleys, small islands or simply a small town or village far away from the bigger cities.

Young people in these rural and isolated areas often face a series of challenges:

  • fewer opportunities for formal and non-formal education: specialised schools and universities as well as youth NGOs are often non-existent,
  • employment: there is a small jobs market and high unemployment rate among youngsters,
  • lack of information about youth-related issues, opportunities and initiatives,
  • infrastructural problems: new technologies are lagging behind or non-existent: no internet in some areas, less and more expensive access ,

The solution we are proposing:

ABCD Innovation Center is actively working in rural communities of Armenia aimed at filling the existing gap between rural and urban youth. Specifically, it developed the capacity of rural youth on soft skills including entrepreneurial activity and civic activism. Currently we have a social enterprise in Kalavan village which serves as a hub for implementing our activities.

We would like to continue and enlarge our activities by adding a “PREPARE Children Development Center”. This center will give rural children opportunities not only to learn basic principles of enterprise and digital design but design, market, and operate with their own products they created which can lead into their own small printing shop business or other form of enterprise.

By participating in those activities children will be working on developing their employability. The main priority of this project is to allow each young person who will complete the program to build an extensive and credible career/job portfolio which will reflect their personal work history at that particular period of time. Those portfolios will document children’s education, work achievements and skills, help them to apply to jobs, apply to college or training programs, show transferable skills, and to track personal development. The professional portfolio will give the employer an in-depth what they have accomplished.

High quality portfolio actually will show an employer what beneficiaries have done will help to make a good first impression and shows the employer that they are really serious about the job.

 

Program Activities are designed to help young people realize their productive and creative potential and prepare them for the future as self-reliant individuals. The Project helps students acquire a better understanding of economic principles and gain a sense of financial control over their future independent life.  Another important benefit of being involved in a real working entrepreneurial process is the students’ ability to build their future career portfolios, resumes and gain access to valuable references. Being involved in On-the-Job Training students in are able to initiate their own small business enterprise. The students as business operators learn step by steps how to develop a business plan, create marketing strategies, conduct market researches, utilize communications skills by making business presentations to the potential clients, merge consumers’ demands with their resources, negotiate, and close the deal. In the process of running enterprise, the students are involved in all aspects of production including planning, accounting balances, suppliers’ and customers’ database activities, problem solving, bookkeeping, inventory tracking, and others. Students learn to work with a variety of documentation, negotiate the orders, create personalized products, and by doing so they learn to work as a team and gain a sense of ownership.

What success looks like for us:

Through the activities of the Project, we expect to see several results:

- The students gain knowledge of computer literacy by learning basic principles of computer operation and programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Publisher.

- The students become familiar with marketing strategies, learn hands-on communications skills and will make steps to understand how to merge consumers’ demands into their enterprise’s niche.

- The students acquire a better understanding of economic principles, become knowledgeable in money management, budgeting, bookkeeping/accounting, long-term planning, business relations, and understanding credit and debt in business and personal life.                                                                 

- The students develop maturity and responsibility as a result of philanthropic and charitable community service activities.

Leadership opportunities provided by project activities work to build students’ self-confidence and strengthen their beliefs in unlocking opportunities. During the activities the students grow as entrepreneurs, generating funds for their community while earning educational credits. Another important benefit of being involved in a real working entrepreneurial process is the students’ ability to build their future resumes and gain access to valuable references. Center’s activities are unique, give members a variety of ways to express themselves, and make the time spent at the Center exciting and fulfilling.

Last but not least a new podcast will be launched with a focus on rural youth issues.

Where we are are based:

Kalavan, Armenia

Funding we are applying for:

$12,000 - $14,000 per year

How this funding will help us achieve our goals:

The funding will help the ABCD Innovation Center to achieve the following goals:

1) implement training courses,

2) offer students On-the-Job Training in Kalavan village

3) give students the opportunity to operate their own enterprise in future,

4) provide guidance and support in the operation of individual small enterprises which are run by the students,

5) engage students in variety of philanthropic and fundraising projects including community events and various student center activities

 6) provide financial literacy skills and resources to students as the most important part of entrepreneurship activities working toward their success in business.  

7) start a podcast on rural youth development and possibilities for development in rural areas

 

Participants who will join the program are of the age from 14 to 16 year olds. The first part of the program focuses on educational development of their members and the second part is a practical in which participants acquire their skills, experience, and a better understanding of economic principles, gain a sense of financial control over their future. The students as business operators learn step by steps how to develop a business plan, create marketing strategies, conduct market researches, utilize communications skills by making business presentations to the potential clients, merge consumers’ demands with their resources, negotiate, and close the deal. In the process of running enterprise, the students are involved in all aspects of production including planning, accounting balances, suppliers’ and customers’ database activities, problem solving, bookkeeping, inventory tracking, and others. Students learn to work with a variety of documentation, negotiate the orders, create personalized products, and by doing so they learn to work as a team and gain a sense of ownership. By being involved in these activities, children will develop entrepreneurial skills and build competencies they will be able to use in the future to operate their own independent enterprise as well as manage many aspects of business for someone else. Another important benefit of being involved in program is the participants’ ability to build their career portfolios for future resumes and gain access to valuable references what will play an essential role in their future employability. Last of all the ability to make financial decisions and manage personal and business finances will be one of the most essential aspects of students’ future individual life. A better understanding of personal finance will help students move into adulthood making more informed monetary decisions, realizing a greater potential for personal prosperity. The financial literacy education will focus on income, money management, spending and credit, saving and investing, consumer protection, and risk management.

How this funding will strengthen our group:

This funding will help us to expand the existing services that ABCD Innovation Center provides to the young people in rural areas. We will have 10 new models that will be utilized for developing the capacity of rural youth in Armenia.

How we gain by being a Spark Fund partner:

The vast majority of our projects have national and international components. Whatever we do we aim to either do an international project or upon successful completion of the project to replicate in other countries. Thus, being a Spark Fund grantee partner will give us an opportunity to join the international family and we expect this fund to give us a platform for showcasing our projects and developing new international partnerships.

How we would like to spend a grant through the Spark Fund:

We will spend 5.000 USD on developing educational modules for training 100 rural youth. We would need 7.000 USD for conducting 70 trainings, 2.400 USD for transportation, 10.032 USD for project implementation team and 1.560 USD office supplies.

Our Annual Income:

39,741 EUR

Our Organization Structure:

ABCD Innovation Center has 5 board of directors (3 male and 2 female) and 4 of them are aged from 24 to 30 and 1 is 32. All the strategic decisions are made by the board of directors and followed by the project team. The main target group of the organization is rural youth.

We consider us as a youth-led organization because when the organization was founded back in 2015 all the founding members were below 26 and since then all the projects designed and implemented by the ABCD Innovation Center are about youth issues. We are youth -led because we engage young people not only in the implementation phase of our projects but also in the design and evaluation phases.

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