The NGSs made presentations under the title of “From Somone, Dakar (OGM 2015) to Nairobi, Kenya (YMCA 3.0 Conference, 2016) – An analysis of National Movement progress from 2015 to present” to illustrate the progress and challenges that they had faced as a collective entity, and also to cement progress in the ultimate goal of empowering African youth to take up the Driver’s seat of the African Renaissance.
Funds and Resource Mobilization
The NGS seminar identified the prime challenge and opportunity as that of Resource Mobilization. The top YMCA Managers present indicated that as a collective body of leaders, they have instituted several measures that include the development, sharing and implementation of novel resource mobilization strategies, asset renovation and restoration, increased focus on in-country corporate fundraising strategies, and, experimentation in social entrepreneurship in select local associations. The measures all prescribed through the AAYMCA Economic Model. Most excitingly, it was reported that the recently constituted Permanent fund would receive increased contributions from the National Movements. An increased number of NGSs also began the process of building their own in-country reserves to work much in line with the ideals of the permanent fund.
The Strategic Plan of the AAYMCA plots the pathway to the YMCA growing in influence as a strong, sustainable, mission-driven continental movement. The plan prioritizes increased visibility of African YMCAs in their current jurisdictions as well as an increase in geographical coverage as being of critical importance. An increase in numbers of individual and corporate membership at local and national level thus, as was recognised by the NGSs, is a critical success factor. Participants therefore agreed that the Movement needs to increase the number members giving their Time, Treasure and Talent to their communities through the YMCA. It was also noted that the number of young people engaged in programmes and activities of the YMCA has grown significantly, but the rate of conversion of the beneficiaries to full members is relatively low. To build on membership, some strategies that have so far been employed include the hiring of a Business Development Manager in Zambia to strategize on activities that serve the dual purpose of generating revenue/ income and attracting membership.
Key progress has already been made with Movement Membership policies being developed and shared among partners (as exemplified by Ghana and Sierra Leone YMCAs) to address the challenge. A second key ingredient in the process was that of building National Movement Membership to at least 2000 paid up members per country, irrespective of the total number of Local Associations in the countries.
An important YMCA 3.0 strategy for membership is the development of the Power Space. The Power space experiment has already started off in Madagascar, Kenya, The Gambia and Sierra Leone. The Gambian power space was noted to have played an important role on hosting leaders of the new political dispensation in that country, while Sierra Leone and Madagascar had already began youth mobilization in the Economic Renaissance and Civic Action realms, respectively. It was also noted that Kenya YMCA and AAYMCA had partnered in setting off an important and innovative Power Space in the form of a Career Fair dubbed #CareerManenoz. The Career Fair was described as a big success and AAYMCA will in 2017 support its roll out in an additional 3 countries.
The YMCA System
The NGSs Seminar explored Systems Thinking to enhance the strategic impact of the YMCA in Africa. It was discussed how, through established and well defined systems, the YMCA Movement is one where there would be interventions, interactions and engagements that are systematised. A systems YMCA, according to the outcome of the Seminar, is one which operates using uniform tools, tried and tested processes, and which is reliant on a strong Knowledge and information feedback loop. The basis of the Systems YMCA is where, like gears in a mechanical system, the AAYMCA moves the National Movements, which in turn move the Local Associations, the essential factory for empowered youth driving the African Renaissance.
After an exciting and exploratory role play, in which the NGSs analysed how hospitals were set up as functional systems, participants were able to synthesise the YMCA as a functional system complete with subsystems, processes, tools and with clear input/output modulations. In the synthesis process NGSs identified Membership, Leadership, Training (including Paraphernalia / Regalia / Insignia), Power Spaces, and, Youth Empowerment & Deployment / Placement as key subsystems in the overall YMCA system. The synthesis process identified that the YMCA is an open system, existing in congruence with its environment and relying on information loops to strengthen its functionality.
All in all, it was a wonderful process through which the NGSs and staff from the Technical House engaged with each other and had plenty of fun, reflection and co-creation. The NGSs left the Seminar for Moshi, Tanzania to discuss the role of the YMCA as a Social Movement. This discussion was to take place under the banner of the International Conference of General Secretaries.