2014 Future Forward Challenge: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa – Win $1,500 USD and a trip to South Africa

2014 Future Forward Challenge: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa – Win $1,500 USD and a trip to South Africa

Deadline: November 5, 2014

Calling the next generation of changemakers addressing youth employment in Africa! Do you have a solution that increases employment opportunities for young people in Africa? Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation invite you to share how you are increasing employment opportunities for young people in Africa, and giving them better pathways to meaningful and sustainable careers.


The Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa challenge aims to find bold new ideas—for young people and by young people—that will address the big picture issues around youth employment in Africa. The Future Forward challenge is a place where you can refine your idea, gain inspiration, and help build a network for change. Enter now and join a community of fellow innovators that are transforming the landscape of youth employment in Africa.

The Future Forward partnership aims to identify and support the most innovative social entrepreneurs who address youth employment challenges in sub-Saharan Africa. Through this collaboration, Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation aim to identify and convene innovators, thought leaders, and youth to inform the conversation about solutions that can move #AfricaYouthFwd.

Top entrants will be eligible for $1,500 USD in unrestricted funding as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in South Africa where they will receive training, support, and visibility critical to their growth and to realizing the full impact of their social innovations.


Challenge Winners: The top five entries in the challenge, determined by a panel of expert judges, will receive the following prizes:

  • Ashoka Globalizer Summit: An invitation and all-expense paid trip to South Africa for the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in early February, 2015. There they will be joining an ecosystem of, and networking with, other top innovators, thought leaders, Ashoka Fellows, and potential investors that can help them scale and increase the impact of their work.
  • Funding: $1,500 USD in unrestricted funding to be used towards the implementation of the work described in their challenge entry.

Early Entry Winners: The top three entries that enter the challenge by October 15, 2014 will receive the following prize:

  • Early Entry Prize: Three Early Entry Winners will each receive an Ashoka produced article profiling their work and $500 USD of promotional ads on Facebook.

Challenge Finalists and Semi-Finalists: The top entries in the Future Forward Challenge will be publicly recognized as semi-finalists and finalists on the Future Forward website.


In addition to the challenge prizes, entrants in this challenge will:

  • Join a community and network of like-minded peers that are working to increase employment opportunities for young people in Africa. Participating in the challenge gives you the opportunity to forge relationships with, and gain visibility, among like-minded innovators, impact partners, sector experts, and potential investors.
  • Receive constructive feedback about your work and how you present it in your entry.
  • Explore other innovations in the field, so you learn more about what others are doing, and how your work fits into the sector.


  • The challenge is open to all individuals, and their organizations (not-for-profit organizations, social enterprises, businesses, schools, etc.) that are implementing, or plan to implement, the work described in their entry in sub-Saharan Africa. (This includes all African countries EXCEPT Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Western Sahara, and Sudan.)
  • Entrants must be from an eligible country in sub-Saharan Africa and between the ages of 18 and 30.
  • Entrants based outside of sub-Saharan Africa must be explicit in their entry about their plan to implement their solution in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The top five entrants that will receive an all-expense paid trip to the Ashoka Globalizer Summit in South Africa must be able to travel to South Africa for an event in early February, 2015 (this includes having a valid passport).
  • Solutions should reflect the theme of the challenge Future Forward: Youth Innovations for Employment in Africa. We want to hear how your solution is addressing youth employment in sub-Saharan Africa. Solutions that increase employment opportunities for young people, and/or increase the employability of young people are eligible. The types of solutions that are eligible could include, but are not limited to:
    • Triggering new industries, including innovations in the informal sector
    • Improving access to more inclusive and dynamic work environments for marginalized young people
    • Helping young people acquire changemaking and entrepreneurship skills to recognize and create new opportunities around market-driven solutions
    • Creating opportunities for youth employment in rural areas to decrease rural-to-urban migration
    • Creating relationships of trust and collaboration between businesses and young people that advance market-driven training and skills development programs
    • Prioritizing effective role modeling and mentorship to help young people identify careers based on interest and passions
    • Improving the models of collaboration between governments, businesses, and citizen-sector organizations for greater impact
  • Entries must be written in English, French, or Portuguese.

Selection Criteria

Top entries in the Future Forward challenge will be those that best meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation
  • Social Impact
  • Sustainability

For more information and to apply, visit To enter the challenge, click here.