pilot program: summary

The first phase of ScholarShop Africa concluded in June, and the results exceeded every expectation we had for the pilot. Students at three schools in Northwest Cameroon participated in a groundbreaking development model that empowered them to take command of their lives, their education, and the future of their communities. 

The pilot benefited 150 students between the ages of twelve and eighteen. ScholarShop partnered with schools and other local stakeholders to give participants opportunities to improve themselves and their communities in exchange for essential school supplies.

Students earned these supplies through a variety of positive behaviors; volunteering at the local health clinic, taking HIV tests, cleaning up their schools, improving their grades, and more.

ScholarShop also taught an eleven-week seminar that armed students with practical entrepreneurial skills through hands-on business planning.

At the end of the seminar, students pitched their business plans to a panel of local leaders in business and government. Students were assessed for their presentation skills, the feasibility of their business plans, and the measurable social good that their enterprise would create; the winning team at each of the three schools received capital and technical guidance to launch their proposed businesses.

ScholarShop students have pencils, textbooks, great ideas, and lofty ambitions. This is the next generation of Cameroon.

pilot program: by the numbers

the tools to succeed

Unlike the American school system, families in Cameroon must pay to send their children to school; for many, it is the single greatest cost they face each year. Families are often forced to make the impossible decision to remove a child from school, and hope that there will be more money the following year. Due to unequal gender dynamics in Cameroon, these circumstances disproportionately affect girls. Sixteen students secured their future by using their earnings for tuition and/or national exam registration. Ten of them were girls.

In general, Cameroon does not provide students with transportation to school, so many are forced to walk hours each way. The commute is exhausting, and reduces the limited time students have to study. They jumped at the opportunity to purchase backpacks to ease this burden -- especially with all the new textbooks and supplies they purchased!

A further 28% of earned Scholar Dollars paid for textbooks and school uniforms, reducing the overall cost burden and making it easier for families to send their other children to school, as well.

forming habits

ScholarShop is invested in the long-term development of people and communities. By rewarding positive actions, ScholarShop helps students make these behaviors part of their lifestyle.

Mosquito net usage at home jumped by 39.8%, helping to reduce the ongoing threat of malaria in ScholarShop communities. Knowledge of HIV status improved six-fold, a foundational first step in the fight against HIV. 

Getting parents involved in education is crucial to childhood development and success. Encouraged by the ScholarShop program, more parents began attending PTA meetings and taking an active interest in their students.

In time, students become role models and leaders for their peers. Several students instructed the other participants in handicraft skills, such as carpentry. At GHS Ngyen-Muwah, some of the more advanced students took initiative and established a first-of-its-kind peer tutoring program. After the GSS Upkwa business plan competition, one panelist was so impressed that he asked the winning team to facilitate training seminars for local farmers.  

program evaluation

Giving students ownership was a powerful and transformative experience. Before, students often felt powerless. If their parents didn't have money for shoes, they went barefoot. If they couldn't afford textbooks, they weren't able to study or follow in class. Through ScholarShop, students went into the classroom with everything they needed to excel, but these students did not receive charity. They improved their grades, and earned solar lamps. They painted a classroom, and paid for next year's tuition. They fixed potholes, and bought backpacks. 

Through this experience, students graduated from the ScholarShop program with more than just school supplies. They left with confidence, pride, and determination. ScholarShop students can pursue their dreams, and lead their communities to a brighter future. 

As a result, ScholarShop participants had overwhelmingly positive reviews for the program. There is always room for improvement, but we are both encouraged and humbled by their feedback.

pilot program: in their own words