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We were introduced to Jeremy Maarman by a colleague in the Community Foundation movement who was working with him on pioneering MyMachine, a global initiative where children get the opportunity to design and build a machine in collaboration with designers, vocational schools and universities. At that time Jeremy worked for the West Coast Community Foundation, a small rural Community Foundation in South Africa. Jeremy was on the lookout for other innovative ideas like MyMachine that had the potential for social impact.

The first YouthBank conversation ripped along at a pace as the overlap between design thinking and the processes involved in both MyMachine and YouthBank were familiar - young people and their concerns were centre stage.

In 2012 Jeremy joined the first executive Board of the fledgling YouthBank International initiative for a three-year period and sought to find ways to bring the concept closer to a range of NGOs operating in Southern Africa. A career change to lead the South African Youth Leaders Network (SAYLN) provided a broader platform to share the YouthBank experience which was gaining wider interest from youth serving NGOs and community philanthropy, particularly the idea of young people having decision-making power. It was at this point in 2014 that Jeremy began to facilitate and train local workers in the YouthBank methodology.

In early 2017, as part of an African Philanthropy Network event in Nairobi, Kenya, Jeremy brought

together community activists from across South Africa and Kenya to introduce the YouthBank concept as part of a step towards organising youth philanthropy across the African continent. In the same year Jeremy was a guest speaker at a Black Sea regional YouthBank event in Yerevan, Armenia and was increasing his profile within the Community Foundation movement in South Africa, by leading capacity building workshops and convening round table networking events. Jeremy’s next step was to lead a new Community Foundation, The Initiative for Community Advancement

(ICA), that YouthBank International partnered with in 2021 to provide a digital learning experience for young people involved in the YouthBank network across South Africa. A new relationship was also forged with SCAT, (Social Change Assistance Trust) based in Cape Town, which involved Jeremy leading the YouthBankIndaba in 2022, building the capacity of their existing and new YouthBank teams.

Creating genuine leadership, decision-making and community building opportunities is the beating heart of a local YouthBank, to enable young people to speak out on the issues that matter to them in their communities. It is in this space, promoting young people’s collective action, that Jeremy believes YouthBank makes its own distinctive contribution.

Jeremy has inherited the ‘go to’ person mantle on the African continent regarding YouthBank and has kept its presence visible in difficult economic times. With the opportunities created by the YouthBank International transition and the establishment of an Associate Academy of YouthBank practitioners to lead new commissioned work, we invited Jeremy to join us and contribute to how we might deliver a better offer and service to existing and emerging partner organisations across the African continent.

Thank you Jeremy Maarman!

Stay tuned for further YouthBank development in Africa as well as other stories about our training Associates.


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