The importance of fostering culture – Young 1ove

Today we spent the day with the non-profit Young 1ove. The day started with a lot of energy as we entered the new office space they moved into back in November. It was a particular surprise for me as I spotted Clarisse Lau, their administration manager. Clarisse and I spent four years together in undergrad at Queen’s University. It was so nice to see a friendly face in such faraway place. After we were done with ice breakers, we got to tour of their offices and learned about their No Sugar program. The unique philosophy of Young 1ove is that they take existing knowledge, studied by academics, and they try to bring it to scale. They then gather evidence from their programs and publish the results. They analyze and publish the results and keep refining their program to ensure the greatest impact. It was inspiring to hear Tshepi and Noam speak about their three-year journey. I was particularly fascinated with the culture they’ve been able to instill within their teams. One common theme that we’ve heard reiterated by the business leaders we’ve met is that it is difficult to find local talent that is ready and willing to work. While the population in Botswana is highly educated due to their government funded education system, the criticism we’ve heard is that they aren’t educated in the right subjects or they aren’t willing to start at the bottom and work their way up. As a result, leaders spend a lot of time and financial resources training and retaining employees. However, Young 1ove was an exception to this sentiment. Their full time staff, surveyors, and facilitators are engaged, motivated and energized. They bring this dedication and energy to their programming to educate over 29,000 youth around the prevalence of HIV among men aged 40+. This culture starts with Noam and Tshepi and they are very deliberate about cultivating it throughout the organization. They seemed to be a great team playing to their individual strengths and leaning on each other to motivate their team. They also have a team of both local Batwsana and international full time staff to disseminate the culture they’re creating. The co-founders instill a constant feedback system within their team to foster open communication, collaboration and perpetual learning. I saw this come to life in their office with their Young 1ove personality wall. They are doing great work in connecting youth with proven lifesaving knowledge and bridging the knowledge gap. I’m interested to see what happens when they launch their ‘Teaching at the right level’ initiative to tackle literacy and numeracy in Botswana.

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