YESSERA provides intensive young adult-based community development assistance to marginalized Ethiopians. YESSERA delivers vocational skills training, leadership and character development, and support for microenterprise. Our approach is participant-driven, holistic, and intensive.
Each year, YESSERA partners with a specific Ethiopian community which is geographically, socially, and economically isolated from progress in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. YESSERA meets with community leaders, and they collectively discuss the strengths, challenges, and goals of the community. YESSERA identifies young adults with leadership potential, who may be high school dropouts, or who may have completed secondary education but lack opportunities for gainful employment. YESSERA screens and selects 10 future leaders – 5 young men and 5 young women – to live in Addis Ababa for one year and attend a private technical academy.
In exchange for tuition, room, and board, YESSERA participants agree to live in YESSERA housing in downtown Addis, commit to a strict personal behavior code, and participate in all YESSERA leadership and character development classes and practicums. The leadership and character development activities are in addition to yearlong technical education provided in the academy by YESSERA’s primary partner, OIC International, and other educational institutions.
During the year, YESSERA participants spend their evenings, at their common housing, learning teamwork, mutual respect and encouragement, gender equality, community-level democratic process, and leadership communication. Participants complete extracurricular diploma programs in computer skills training, and engage in supervised off-campus practicums, specific to their chosen trades.
Upon completion of their studies, participants are encouraged, to return to their home communities and start small enterprises or community development projects in their chosen fields. During the year’s final quarter, participants are required to present basic business plans to the YESSERA Country Director for review and approval. Upon approval, participants may request start-up loans and grants from YESSERA to capitalize their projects. All YESSERA participant enterprises receive one year of in-person and remote technical assistance from YESSERA volunteers and consultants.
For 2014 and 2015, women’s empowerment in Addis ababa has been YESSERA’s main focus. In diversified fields, 15 young girls have already graduated, and another 16 are now receiving training in computer skills, video/ film, food preparation and hospitality with hopes they would collectively use their education to run a future YESSERA Internet Cafe.