The Dakar American Applied Research & Training (DAART) is an 18-month program conceived, designed and implemented by The West African Research Association & Center. DAART’s objective has been to provide capacity building training in Dakar, at WARC, for a select group of young West African social entrepreneurs—‘select’ because the 11 participants in the program were selected from more than 100 applicants. A hugely diverse group, these eleven leaders play key roles—often being founders—of organizations and projects designed to empower their communities. The range of organizational goals includes providing educational support to young people from economically and otherwise marginalized groups, promoting women to run for elected office, support for the albino community, use of cinema as a tool for development, recycling of electronic waste as an environmental intervention and job creation, promotion of agriculture and support for farmers in getting their products processed and to market, music as an empowerment, independent investigative journalism, and more. The DAART project, funded through a grant from the US State Department, is designed to build capacity for young innovative African leaders. During the summer of 2012, all 11 participants were in Dakar for two months of training. In August, they returned to their home countries and their organizations to apply their new skills. Having developed, in the course of the training, strategic business plans for their organizations, each was awarded a significant grant to invest in the realization of his or her plan.
As part of the follow-up to the training, the DAART management team (including the WARC Director; DAART Training Director, Professor Eugenie Aw; DAART Coordinator, Mariane Yade; and Africa-based members of the DAART Steering Committee) has been making site visits to each of the grantees.