Comment from the Ambassador
Dawn Turek

The Comgest Foundation supported YAKA’s cross-cultural exchange and social entrepreneurship programs for youth. Actions in 2019 were successful with immersion trips abroad for 43 French youth in India and Senegal; however, Covid-19 forced YAKA to adapt in 2020 as follows:

1) The 2019/20 IMPOWER program began in November 2019 as planned, but lockdown pushed workshops on-line after computers were donated to youth who did not have them. Travel restrictions also caused their immersion trip abroad to be cancelled; however, the youth will participate in a 3-week immersion trip in July 2021 in an eco-village in France with a number of refugee and migrant youth. Together, they will engage in similar workshops and training as in IMPOWER’s usual immersion trips and engage in cultural exchange. YAKA will also host international youth during this phase if possible.

2) YAKA also brought 3 young entrepreneurs to France from Tunisia in August 2020 to participate in a two-week pilot cross-cultural version of YAKA’s social entrepreneurship program Press Start. Living on a farm outside of Paris (to maintain easier Covid safety restrictions) with 7 French youth and one migrant from Afghanistan, they learned the elements of entrepreneurship, met with social entrepreneurs and visited start-up incubators. This pilot now has funding to be expanded in 2021


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

A complete impact assessment is not yet possible. Some available include:

1) 45-day immersion trips for 43 French youth to villages of Guhir (India) and Soussane (Senegal)

2) Several social-improvement projects to help village communities organized by YAKA youth

3) 2-day educational forums for 300 youth in Dakar and Mumbaï organised by YAKA youth; and 4) a successful pilot project exchange program with Tunisian youth

Project sponsors

YES Akademia - France

Local partner