“While participating in Samgau UpShift, we've learned to turn our ideas into real

How UNICEF Kazakhstan helps adolescents choose their future profession

UNICEF Kazakhstan
Lead the Way-Ayan_Beksultan_Oct_2021_Aleksandra_Chernykh
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Aleksandra_Chernykh
06 December 2021

The pandemic has caused adjustments in all areas of the lives of Kazakhstanis. And while the whole world was switching to online work and study, adolescents were also forced to adapt to the new reality.

"Many adolescents during the pandemic had problems with social adaptation and finding themselves. A child sitting at home before a computer cannot understand exactly what he wants, and even if he has already found his niche, it is difficult for him to choose a highquality course or support, since there are very few such projects in Kazakhstan”, 19-year-old Amina says, a team member from Semey.

It is for this reason that Ayan (15 years old), Maxim (17 years old), Amina (19 years old) and Rusalina (19 years old) decided to take part in Samgau Upshift, a program for the development of skills of adolescents and youth, supported by UNICEF and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Using the UPSHIFT methodology, which is the flagship initiative of the UNICEF Innovation Lab, the program combines advanced methods of youth development and youth engagement in social innovation and entrepreneurship.

17 teams took part in the first cycle of Samgau Upshift seminars, and 9 teams took part in the mentoring program, which began to turn their ideas into projects.

They also included a team from the Lead the Way Project, which united Ayan, Maxim, Amina and Rusalina. The guys are determined to help their peers develop the necessary skills for university admission or employment.

“The idea for the project came to me a long time ago, about a year before its implementation. But it was thanks to Samgau Upshift that I was able to implement it. During the training sessions, I chose the most active participants and contacted them. After some discussion, we formed a small but friendly team, each participant of which now dreams of meeting each other in person", Maxim says, a student and team member from Rudny.

UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Yevgeniy_Zhukov
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Yevgeniy_Zhukov
Maxim is the head of the Lead the Way Team from Rudny

Having formed a team, the guys held meetings in Zoom, and made decisions together, taking into account the opinions of each participant. Amina and Rusalina were the coordinators, and Maxim was the head of the group. Ayan was responsible for marketing and design.

For two weeks, the students were trained in three areas: Comprehensive Personal Development, Basics of Entrepreneurship, Journalism and SMM Promotion.

UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Aleksandra_Chernykh
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Aleksandra_Chernykh
Ayan is a member of the Lead the Way Team from Shymkent

The project speakers were well-known entrepreneurs and bloggers who have achieved success in their business.

"Our speakers are professionals in their field; they work in major TV companies, manage large-scale business and media projects, are members of the National Council of Public Trust under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and work in the UN. All this demonstrates their wide experience and professionalism," Rusalina says, a member of the team from Taraz.

Experts shared their knowledge about personal branding, business, media and creative thinking during the Zoom online webinars.

In the first stream of the project, the team collected 233 applications and more than 300 pieces of feedback from project participants. The participants of the training sessions liked the atmosphere of the webinars and the specific information. According to the guys, it was a great honour for them to meet, albeit in an online format, with famous people and learn about their knowledge and experience.

The Lead the Way team also notes that after the successful launch of the project, they faced certain difficulties on their way.

“It was difficult at first to conduct webinars, as it is a great responsibility and incredibly exciting, but over time we coped with it and in the future everything went much more smoothly. Sometimes there were problems with communication. The Internet disappeared, speakers or coordinators did not get in touch, but this allowed us to practice working in critical situations,” Amina says. “It happened that there were some disagreements in the team, we were very tired, we even came close to giving up. Despite this, we managed and brought the first stream to an end, and also delivered T-shirts and shoppers as gifts for our participants”.

In parallel with the project, the members of the Lead the Way team continued to take exams, participate in volunteer projects and even work, but this did not affect the development of the project in any way.

UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Yevgeniy_Zhukov
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Yevgeniy_Zhukov
Maxim is also an active participant in the UNICEF volunteer program

Now tenth grader Ayan and second year student Maxim are engaged in the Lead the Way Project. In the next project stream, they plan to work in a new format.

Now they strive to become one of the main educational platforms in the education market. Ayan and Maxim are already working on their website and the selection of speakers in “Financial Literacy", "Graphic and Web Design", "Mobilography" and "Courses of Presenters". Future project participants will have the opportunity to watch free video tutorials and buy a full course of study with a certificate after completion.

UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Aleksandra Chernykh
UNICEF Kazakhstan/2021/Aleksandra Chernykh
Ayan from Shymkent is preparing for a webinar

The guys also prepared a financial strategy for the next year and assembled a new team with clearly separated tasks.

“While participating in the project, we have learned the most important thing - to turn our ideas into real projects. We have learned how to build business plans, properly allocate our budget and build our team. This project was a great start for us, it helped us collect feedback from participants, realize our mistakes and fix them for the future”, Maxim says.



With the support of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Public Association "Community of Youth Workers" has been implementing the SAMGAU (UPSHIFT) program to strengthen social entrepreneurship skills among adolescents and youth, using advanced experimental training methods since December 2020. Special attention is paid to the involvement of adolescents from vulnerable groups in the project (young people with HIV and other chronic diseases, with disabilities, deprived of parental care).