Evaluating a youth entrepreneurship program in Burkina Faso – Nolizwe Mhlaba

Nolizwe Mhlaba was in Burkina Faso this summer, on a Save the Children fellowship. She describes her experience in her own words.


“As a Save-University Partnership for Education Research (SUPER) Fellow, I spent four weeks in Burkina Faso documenting the strengths and challenges of the entrepreneurship component of Youth in Action (YiA), a six-year program implemented by Save the Children in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation.


The goal of this program is to improve the socioeconomic status of out-of-school youth in rural Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda. Program participants go through a learning cycle which focuses on developing literacy, numeracy, and financial literacy skills, as well as social assets. The youth then proceed to an action phase, which includes a business module, mentorship, networking and peer support to prepare them to pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures. In addition to this training, they receive a small cash transfer to support their start-up efforts.


Working with a field officer in two of the three regions where YiA is operational in Burkina Faso, I conducted focus group discussions – I asked questions in French which were translated into Dioula by a local staff member—to gather the perspectives of YiA youth, parents, facilitators, and mentors about various aspects of the program. I presented the research findings to the country team, which included the Monitoring & Evaluation officer, Education Specialist, Program Manager, and Country Director.


The SUPER Fellowship was a valuable learning experience as it allowed me to design a research project from start to finish. I had the opportunity to apply and continue to develop skills, tools, and knowledge about international development education—all in French. I was very fortunate to work with and learn a tremendous amount from the Burkina Faso YiA team and my research supervisor at Save the Children. I look forward to doing more work of this nature in the future.”




Nolizwe is a 2nd year Master’s student at CIE. Originally from Zimbabwe, she has a background in economics, international studies and diplomacy. Most recently she spent 5 years as a teacher in the African Studies department at the African Leadership Academy in South Africa.