Comment from the Ambassador
Dawn Turek

The Comgest Foundation’s has supported three phases of YAKA’s IMPOWER program:

1 - Cross-cultural immersion Phase - travel of 30 French youth for 45 days in July-August 2019: 15 (Soussane, Senegal) and 15 (Guhir, India) to live/work with local youth and partner organizations. Nine local youth participated in the India program and four in Senegal.

French and local youth conducted and participated in workshops (e.g. recycling, eco-friendly farming, mental health, self-confidence, status of women); training sessions on entrepreneurship (business plans, product design/marketing, budgeting/sales); and social-improvement projects (community center renovation, short film production [cattle-theft], trash pick-up [pollution awareness], hosted films [children’s cartoons, documentaries on sustainable farming]). Participants also organized “Youth Forums” (in Dakar and Mumbai) of workshops on local issues for 300+ locals.

2 - Preparation for next IMPOWER program (30 French youth; November 2019 - present), incl. pandemic-related modifications:

  • Weekly online workshops (March 16th - early June); and
  • 9th Promotion – re-scheduled for December 2020: 10 (India), 10 (Senegal) and 10 (Nicaragua), alongside 16 regional youth.

3 -  SWITCH program - International youth travel to France: Postponed until 2021 (Covid-19 restrictions).


Launched in the US in 2007 and in Paris in 2012, YES AKADEMIA (“YAKA”) focuses on cross-cultural, community development through empowerment programs with youth between 15 and 35 who are generally from marginalized, inner-city or rural areas. YAKA’s main program is called IMPOWER where participants learn about social entrepreneurship, civic responsibility as well as leadership and organization skills via 300 hours of pedagogical workshops. Youth in IMPOWER also travel abroad to work with youth and YAKA partner organisations. In turn, the youth from abroad come to France, as a part of IMPOWER called SWITCH, to develop skills to independently continue community programs in their home countries and carry on with their civic and/or entrepreneurial activities. YAKA’s IMPOWER program thus establishes a continuous exchange of knowledge and skills that provides a significant and sustainable impact at a local and global level. The pillars on which YAKA rests are youth, empowerment of youth and solidarity to help in growing a strong, inclusive, autonomous next generation. The Comgest Foundation is supporting these 2019/2020 international exchange activities programs involving 100 youth from France, Senegal, India, Nicaragua and Tunisia.

Impact / Main indicators

The impact of the project is on the intercultural skills acquired by the 100 French and international youth through YAKA’s original programming. The indicators are based on the blogs and vlogs as well as testimonies given by the youth and their parents throughout the programming. Partner non- profits in France and abroad also have a say in the impact of our project to evaluate whether the youth have acquired in their skillsets, global competencies and self-worth.

Project sponsors

YES Akademia - France

Local partner