Yoma is a digital platform that aims to support African youth on a “learning to earning journey” with three impact areas: digital skills, social change & environmental impact. The platform plans to leverage a token economy as part of an incentive system for youth action that tackles social and environmental challenges. The project will use IIASA citizen science apps to encourage measurement and monitoring of youth-led environmental impact initiatives.

Yoma (Youth Agency Market) is a digital platform that connects youth to opportunities through an ecosystem of partners including governments, corporate, civil society and UN organizations and user-centric mobile technology and offline support. Yoma serves to guide, skill and connect youth, including the most marginalised, putting youth at the center and giving them a way to showcase their talent

Yoma emerged from a human-centered design thinking approach initiated by UNICEF, which aims to keep youth at the center of a research program of which the common theme is leveraging suitable digital technologies (AI, blockchain, automatic impact verification and measurement and crowdsourcing) to help ensure that in future, through small-scale experiments in three African countries, the Yoma platform can scale efficiently to all of Africa and beyond.

The project aims to explore the following hypotheses:

  • With the help of AI, youth can work in groups effectively to design community-based initiatives that result in actions, which contribute at a local level to achieving social and environmental progress.
  • Using appropriate crowdsourcing apps, these actions can produce citizen-generated data that is valuable for key stakeholders at government agencies, NGOs and the private sector.
  • Youth will engage at scale to carry out these actions, motivated by a carefully designed digital token-based system.
  • Such coordinated youth-based action will lead to improvements in relational well-being using appropriate tools to measure indicators of well-being.
  • Key stakeholders will sustain such youth-based action beyond the operational research phase, motivated by both its positive social impact and the value of the data it generates.

IIASA focus

The citizen science apps developed by NODES will be used to support the youth led initiatives in measuring and monitoring environmental impacts at the local level.

Collaboration partners

IIASA partners with various research labs in Europe (Caliber Consult Gmbh, LPI, CSIC and UNIGE) with a range of expertise relevant to the core research questions. These research partners will work in collaboration with local partners, which are well-established youth innovation hubs in Sub-Saharan Africa (CitSci Africa Association, RLabs), to test the central hypothesis through practical small-scale experiments coordinated by each hub.

The research partners will leverage resources and know-how being developed in an EU project, Crowd4SDG, that three of the research partners are participating in, and that has similar goals to Yoma and a closely aligned methodology. They will work closely with the Yoma activity across all research fields.


Young African woman with cellphone

15 March 2023

Helping young Africans innovate for climate resilience

Africa is the continent that will be most adversely affected by climate change. IIASA researchers are collaborating on Yoma OR – an ambitious project aimed at helping young people grow their digital skills as a first step on a journey from learning to earning using AI, blockchain, and crowdsourcing.