The engagement between ADA and UNICEF is more than just a partnership. It has created a fundamental paradigm shift in how young people in Kosovo* perceive adolescence, with the latter being increasingly recognized as an opportunity and not a challenge.

The collaboration between ADA and UNICEF Kosovo that started back in 2012 has been critical in addressing the needs of Kosovar youth and adolescents. Throughout the years, the joint effort of the two has brought about new ways of investing in young people, who in turn, have slowly become key actors in a prosperous Kosovo as agents of social change, creating solutions to crucial community challenges and shaping their own future.

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Volunteerism, and Tech and ICT represent unparalleled opportunities for the most marginalized adolescents and youth to become empowered to achieve the future they hope for. By transforming Kosovo youth’s potential into strengthened capacity, the ADA-funded project (InGEAR) has empowered young people to make a successful transition from educational to professional life.

Together, we have supported over 7 social businesses with 800+ direct beneficiaries. We have trained 41 CSOs and public institutions in volunteer management, and scaled up the Kosovo Volunteers platform to include more than 1,771 registered users, 182 of which were engaged in volunteer positions. We have also capacitated 700+ young people in tech and ICT skills, who have developed 4 software solutions for public institutions.

Key projects that succeeded directly as a result of the ADA support

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

DM Solution: DM Solution is a startup aiming to help the deaf and hard of hearing community navigate easier in life. The team is working to create an online app that translates sign language to text and vice versa. Moreover, this app will be connected with special gloves with embedded sensors that translate hand gestures into spoken language. DM Solution aims to expand internationally and help the Deaf and hard of hearing community worldwide, hoping that this product will be a valuable tool of communication for them.

BrainTrain: Having recently become part of StartUP: Social Venture programme. BrainTrain is a startup aiming to open a center to develop and improve social and cognitive capacities of children, adolescents and young adults. They plan on doing this by tailoring informal educational programs that develop abilities like critical/creative thinking, decision-making, emotional self-regulation, communication, memory, attention and problem solving. BrainTrain aims to capacitate different target groups of our society with abilities and skills necessary to be productive members of society in the 21st century.

Modicular: Modicular is a startup founded by young architects from Prishtina. It offers furniture and accessories designed for people with disabilities and/or specific requirements. The startup provides a great environment for people to consult, and work directly together with architects and designers to create the product that is best suited to their needs. It also gives people the opportunity to shape their spaces according to their particular preferences by offering them the freedom of combining different parts to create the ideal product. They have already created a portable kitchen, a mobile chair and interior designs for several companies in Kosovo. The Modicular team consists three young and talented architects who are now offering customized furniture, not only for both the local market and for worldwide market.

Purple Muse: Purple Muse was founded by a group of girls from Gjakova, Kosovo, who have underwent the StartUP workshop. Purple Muse focuses on producing hand-made knits which combine quality materials with modern design. What makes the startup special is that all products are made by widows from the 1999 conflict in Kosovo. Purple Muse is helping these women who were ravaged by the conflict become productive members of society and develop financial stability.

Tech and ICT

Border Wait – A group of adolescents and youth trained through Techstitution recently created a digital tool called Border Wait. It is an interactive tool that monitors the traffic at land borders in real time and shows the time duration one has to wait to cross each border. Border Wait also includes other features notifying users on route blocks due to weather conditions. The app has already been developed and is expected to launch soon. Partnership has been established with the Ministry of Internal Affairs for its launch.

Volunteerism

Alma Gashi is one out of 182 young people engaged in volunteer positions through the Kosovo Volunters Platform.  Through Kosovo Volunteers, she is spending her adolescent years lending a helping hand to worthwhile causes. So far, she has been involved in volunteerism activities ranging from environment protection and charity, to peer tutoring and being an active member of the centre of culture in her city. Alma said: “Now that we have a platform to find opportunities and that our working hours will be recognized, there’s no reason for anyone not to volunteer and help make Kosovo a better place.”

Registered CSOs and public institutions: The list of CSOs and public institutions that have benefited from the Volunteers Management Workshop and the Kosovo Volunteers Platform is ever-increasing. The list of beneficiaries includes: The Ideas Partnership, Artpolis, Community Building Mitrovica (CBM), NGO DRIT, Kosovo Youth Council, Municipality of Mitrovica, IPKO Foundation, Caritas Kosova, EcoZone, Young Active Gracanica, NGO Korner za razvoj inovacije i kreativnost (KRIK), Local Youth Action Council Prizren, NGO Diversity of Mitrovica (DOM), NGO The Roma, Ashkalia Documentation Centre (RADC), NGO Peer Educators Network (PEN), Integretation Center for Ethnic Communities, NGO FemSpace, Red Cross of Zvecan, Local Youth, Action Council Vushtrri, RinOn Club, and NGO Development Research Innovation Training (DRIT), etc.

*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).