Ubuntu Academy

Rui Marques  (Portugal)



THE HUMAN IMPACT: Young migrant communities are often stuck in an endless cycle of hopelessly low expectations and insufficient opportunities from generation to generation. This cycle is broken when these young leaders within the community collectively discover their voice and realize their potential to change the world around them.

THE NUMBERS IMPACT: After growing quickly to reach youth throughout Portugal, Ubuntu Academy has recently spread to new countries through its own alumni. It is now operating in Guinea Bissau, funded by the European Union EU-PAANE program, as well as Cape Verde, Mozambique, and Timor-Leste. Ubuntu Bridges serves as an umbrella association for similar organizations that are using similar methodologies around the globe. Ubuntu Academy is currently in the process of scaling to a number of new countries, including Colombia and Spain.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Rui has created non-formal education model that works with young migrants from deprived areas with strong leadership potential to become social entrepreneurs and achieve full social integration in Europe. Ubuntu Academy is a two-year leadership engagement project that aims to work with young descendants of immigrants, and other youth from vulnerable contexts, as well as those who work within these contexts. Ubuntu consists of a two‐year empowerment program through non‐formal education methodologies and provides participants with thematic workshops, ranging from one day to an entire weekend. These seminars are focused on community leadership and the development of social entrepreneurship projects that put the Ubuntu spirit into practice. Moreover, participants have the support and guidance of a designated mentor in the implementation of their social ventures. Ubuntu provides technical tools, comprehensive training, and inspiration to best position motivated leaders for success in all spheres of life Ubuntu serves as a platform for these youth leaders to aspire and inspire.

WHO STARTED IT? A Portuguese serial social entrepreneur, Rui is a doctor who has launched national magazines, a human rights boat journey, a refugee camp in Portugal for migrants fleeing the Bosnian war, CAIS, a well-known organization that supports homeless people, with a strong emphasis on migrants. He is well known for his work on Integral Governance, a movement aimed at bringing together all affected stakeholders around a specific open system issue (e.g. migration and integration), and building collaborative solutions to solve them. This process yielded award winning initiatives such as the creation of the High Commissioner for Immigration with the Portuguese government (where Rui served for a number of years), the establishment of one-stop-shop migration offices around Portugal, the Escholas Program to give vulnerable youth opportunities to improve their communities, and, more recently the PAR, a collaborative platform to receive and support refugees.

HOW HELLO EUROPE IS HELPING: In addition to helping Rui spread Ubuntu Academy to other European countries – such as Spain, where a pilot is already taking place – Hello Europe is using Rui’s knowledge and experience around Integral Governance and collaborative platforms where key stakeholders from public, private and non-profit sectors can come together, identify core issues around problems and find collaborative cross-sector solutions.

WHAT THEY NEED NOW: Connections to broader European funding partners, organizations that want to pilot Ubuntu Academy in their own countries, and new spaces for collaboration.

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