Wala is creating a movement of economically and politically empowered young people by organizing young people locally, equipping them with a precise set of tools geared at economic and political engagement, and connecting the local groups at a national level to drive policy change.
Wala is building a network of activated “YouthDeciders” and YouthDecides communities across Tunisia. She organizes campaigns in local universities to publicize YouthDecides through establishing advertising booths on campuses to recruit YouthDeciders, namely undergraduates who are hired as part time employees and as full time employees after graduation, if they prove, during the time they served as part-time employees, that they can scale the work of YouthDecides, to become community ambassadors. She organizes them in the form of a leader and co-leader (based on their knowledge of technology and their communities, as well as past experience with empathy-based leadership) who are both responsible for reaching out to their communities to create and lead a local YouthDecides group. Wala trains those ambassadors in how to create a YouthDecides event, including contacting sponsors to finance the event, incentivizing the search and engagement process where ambassedors aregranted a percentages of the total capital that she manges to get and engage, and reaching out to participants, particularly young citizens between the ages of 18 and 35, through social media by organizing events on Facebook and at universities by establishing booths and reaching out to professors and lecturers to spread the work of YouthDecides among their students. The ambassadors in turn use such events to mobilize their communities.
The local YouthDecides communities drive their own activities, starting from planning and financing down to implementation and assessment, but Wala provides the ambassadors with two particular toolkits to guide their efforts, one to stimulate the digital economy and the other to solve social problems and engage in political decision-making. The first is WeCode, where ambassadors create sponsored events to collect the youth in their communities who are interested in mobile and web technology development. Through WeCode events, young people (or others in the community who choose to attend) learn to how to create a digital business using mobile and web development (such as e-commerce web applications, digital mobile games, etc). The ambassadors recruit experts (i.e. instructors) to deliver different workshops, during YouthDecides camps, on business development, marketing, and developing mobile and web applications. The camp starts with a one day event where the participants are introduced to the workings and the impact of the digital economy to advance economic prosperity and growth to the whole nation. Participants are then registered for a 5 day camp to get deeply engaged with the specificities of starting a digital business, and those who wish to become experts in specific field, such as marketing or coding, they enroll in a three month program, run by the ambassedors and the recruited instructors.
The second is a platform dedicated to solving community problems where YouthDeciders also organize camps, but to connect young citizens on a mobile platform called iDecide that was developed by Wala. On iDecide, YouthDeciders organize young citizens around problems that they want to address in their communities (such as waste management and lack of humane means of transportation for school children in rural areas). The citizens, organized in teams, then are given 2 weeks to come up with a solution as well as budget and time plan for implementation. Wala then connects parliament members with those teams, where the latter have the opportunity to present their solutions with support of the parliament members. In order to be able to do the latter, Wala lobbied the Paralement through giving talks and holding meetings to make iDecide one of the official platforms that the Tunisian government uses to address societal problems. In doing so, she established a public-provate partnership that ensures the sustainability of the projects that several young citizens create and lead. Through this process, the young citizens are transformed into change makers with an ability to intervene in the decision making process, working for the betterment of their communities.
To date, and across 5 cities (Tunis, Jendouba, Ariana, Mahdian, and Monastir) in Tunisia, Wala has managed to build a movement of 279 Ambassadors, 180 Instructors, 760 Alumni, and 10 partners like Orange, Esprit-incubator, APAC, Institut Francais, and WebHost for example. Furthermore, Wala enabled the creation of 700+ digital jobs such as marketing and e-commerce and empowered 8 young unemployed young citizens to start their own businesses in various fields. Most remarkably, through the forerunner of the iDecide app, Wala’s movement was able to change two laws. On the basis of citizen-based efforts it is now mandatory that at least one among the top three candidates for the municipality election is under 35 years and at least two among the top four candidates for the parliament election is under 35. The Tunisian Parliament officially expressed its support of the YouthDecides movement and publicly honored the initiative. Since young Tunisians who want to grow their own businesses do not have the ability to make online, international financial transactions (as there is no policy that supports credit cards), Wala has managed to change a policy by lobbying the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, and the Central Bank to issue an Online Technology Card that permits digital business owners, as well as freelancers, to make online transactions to finance their businesses and to be able to be paid by customers overseas.
Following the two laws, Wala’s movement has pushed for a Social Enterprise Law that enables the creation of Social Enterprises in Tunisia so that youth-driven initiatives could be more sustainable and scalable. At the same time, Wala is in the process of licensing YouthDecides in order to grow her impact beyond the current network of ambassodors, enabling social enterprises to become licensees and to organize more young citizens. Wala is also creating a YouthDecides Fund financed by both the government and CSR initiatives. This fund will support financing digital businesses and project teams that aim for solving community problems. This will enable her to scale up nationally and to grow her network of local community ambassadors across the whole Maghreb region and Africa, as Wala aspires to impact one million youth by 2020.