WINGS for change: AVSI’s initiative to empower Congolese youth

In November 2023, AVSI launched a transformative 12-month project titled “WINGS for Congolese Youth” in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo, funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.  

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 80% of people are unemployed 

This initiative implemented by AVSI and funded by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, aims to provide sustainable employment and livelihood opportunities to 160 Congolese youth affected by armed conflicts and the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The project will target vulnerable areas, including the city of Goma, and neighborhoods, such as Katoyi, Ndosho, Katindo, and Kyeshero, to address critical gaps. Indeed, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is marked by widespread insecurity due to the presence of various armed factions, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of essential services. This insecurity leads to severe instability for young people, often forcing them to flee their homes. The Democratic Republic of Congo hosts the largest number of internally displaced persons globally, with 6.7 million people affected, including 2.3 million in North Kivu, where Goma, the focus area of the project, is located. Young individuals are frequently targeted by armed groups and lured by promises of a better future, while girls are particularly vulnerable to forced marriages and early pregnancies. 

In collaboration with The Congo Tree a youth development charity fostering community engagement and the Congolese government agency, Division for Social Affairs (DIVAS), AVSI is committed to equipping young people with essential life and leadership skills alongside market-oriented financial literacy training. Guided by expert coaching and mentorship, participants will gain invaluable insights into market dynamics, unlocking opportunities for success in both employment and entrepreneurial ventures. 

a meeting of young people involved in the wings for change project
A meeting of young people involved in the wings for change project

The WINGS+ model

Central to this endeavor is AVSI's innovative WINGS+ model, a holistic workforce development approach designed to enhance the socio-economic resilience of youth.  

Drawing on expertise from AVSI's technical team in Uganda (pioneers of the WINGS model) support is tailored to the unique needs of participants, ensuring maximum impact and sustainable change

AVSI Foundation has conducted a thorough market assessment in Goma, North Kivu, ensuring alignment with local market dynamics. This assessment identifies tailored economic, market, and job opportunities for youth aged 15 to 25, enhancing the model's effectiveness in fostering stability and recovery.

Expected outcomes 

This project represents a crucial step in AVSI's mission to empower young people in the region with the tools and resources they need to soar toward a brighter future. 

Anticipated outcomes include a significant increase in monthly income among participants, with almost all actively engaging in savings by the project's conclusion. Furthermore, an anticipated 85% of participants are expected to launch or expand their business activities or see an increase in their average weekly work hours, offering tangible evidence of the project's efficacy in fostering economic independence and resilience