Establishing the foundation of a vibrant community of practice in Africa and the Middle East with Orange Corners

YBI’s support of the Orange Corners Programme in building a Community of Practice, which began in January 2021, came to a successful close in April. Orange Corners, managed by the Netherlands Enterprise & Development Agency of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, supports young entrepreneurs with incubation programmes that aim to propel their business and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole.

YBI’s work with Orange Corners is based in its 20 years of experience in building strong Communities of Practice and learning networks around youth entrepreneurship. This has already impacted thousands of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship support organisations all over the world.

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are organised groups of people who share a concern or a passion for what they do and learn how to do it better through regular interaction. The idea which fuels CoPs is the exchange of information and experiences between like-minded organisations in formal and informal settings, allowing the participants to develop themselves personally and professionally, positively impacting the organisations they work for.

Over the last two decades, YBI has built a very strong CoP with its members, who often refer to it as the YBI Family. YBI is now taking all this learning and experience to other organisations, helping them build strong CoPs that can decrease their learning curve and help them respond more rapidly to customer needs.

The Community of Practice Workshop delivered to Orange Corners brought together both their local and HQ staff to foster mutual learning and increase programme quality for Orange Corners’ local service providers in Africa and the Middle East.

The programme aimed to support Orange Corners in creating a shared sense of community, putting forward a roadmap to serve as the basis for a new Community of Practice with local service providers. It also encouraged local service providers to exchange experiences and ideas as part of the workshops in order to improve the quality of programmes they offer to entrepreneurs.

The topics for the workshops were selected by surveying the needs and priorities of the providers and the main challenges faced by the entrepreneurs they support. The survey also aimed to identify which digital and online tools local service providers already use and which they could benefit from in the future, as well as their expectations around being part of the Orange Corners Community of Practice.

Due to COVID-19, the programme had to quickly adapt away from the planned week of in-person Orange Corners Strategy Days, instead pivoting to a completely digital delivery method. Despite the challenges, YBI delivered a series of 6 workshops, to a total of 13 hours. The workshops prioritised the most necessary elements needed for an effective community of this kind, including the skills needed for an effective interaction with peers, how to capitalise on existing community strengths, and how to overcome the most common challenges faced by such communities. They provided space for reflection and building relationships, encouraging engagement and consequently the provision of collaborative opportunities, and ensuring the delivery of practical value through the presentation of appropriate and relevant tools.

Following the Community of Practice training, a roadmap for the future and a learning session planner were developed and shared. The programme ended with a final workshop with the Orange Corners HQ team, providing guidance and support on managing the next stage of the Community of Practice. All this future-facing work will enable the community to continue to sustainably develop via mutual discussion and collaboration.

Theodore Klouvas, Programme Manager at Orange Corners, says:

“With the excellent support of YBI we managed to turn our individual energies into synergies for the good of our mission, which is to support young entrepreneurs across our focus countries. A valuable community of shared values and aspirations.” 

The completion of this initiative signals the continued, exciting development of the YBI and Orange Corners partnership, and of the developing Orange Corners Community of Practice.

To find out more about Orange Corners’ work, please visit their website.

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