Samson Haileyesus is changing the face of Youth advocacy and Championing climate change in Ethiopia

Samson Haileyesus is a youth policy advisor and climate change activist.

Born in the Ethiopian touristic city of Hawassa, which is located 273 km south of the capital Addis Ababa, 26 year old Samson is passionate about advocacy for youth leadership, development and empowerment with experience in developing and managing various youth programs.

He holds a bachelors in Construction Technology & Management in the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC), Addis Ababa University.

Having graduated in 2018 with an accredited certificate of Leadership from the Project Management Institute (PMI), Samson is preparing for a Master’s class in International Relations & Diplomacy to be started in fall 2020.

Volunteer work

Samson started his volunteer and professional work with youth organizations in 2011 and served in many national and international youth organizations from membership to senior leadership representing Ethiopian youth.

These include; AIESEC, World Youth Alliance (WYA), Ethiopian Youth Federation (EYF), Youth Ambassadors Program (YAP), Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA-AAU), Pan-African Youth Association for the Promotion of Peace and Unity in Africa (AJEPAX), Team 54 Project, A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY), and  O-YES Global Foundation.

Currently, he serves in 2 professional positions (Executive Director of O-YES Global Foundation & Youth Policy Advisor in Youth Steering Committee) and volunteered as Deputy Country Director of International Youth Society in Ethiopia.


In 2019, Samson was recognized as a Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA) for Ethiopia and winner of the Special Award of Books for Peace 2019, and recently I won the Policy advocate of the year Award on the Young African Leaders Summit (YALS2019). I am an AIESEC & YALI alumni & ACWAY Fellow.


Youth Challenges

Samson identifies unemployment and lack of entrepreneurial skills as the major issues facing the youth in today’s world. He said For African countries, youth represent a challenge as well as an enormous opportunity, particularly now, when populations in other parts of the world are aging. Young people, while needing jobs, are also critical in creating them.

He said the growing youth population has placed immense pressure on African countries to address youth unemployment, but their ability to generate employment among sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing is limited by infrastructure constraints. “The youth’s lack of entrepreneurial skills limit their ability to develop businesses that can generate employment and growth, and their lack of capital to exploit business opportunities limits their chances of starting and sustaining a business.”

He identifies Gender inequality, Political Instability & Conflict, Poverty and Illegal Migration as other issues facing the youth in recent times.


Past Projects

Samson says he is passionate about making a difference and therefore engages in various community and personal development programs to make this impact happen. He has therefore  managed and implemented a number of projects & initiatives in the past 8 years, some of which include;

Sira-Tukole Project – In late 2014 he spearheaded the “Sira-Tukole” project, a regional youth exchange project between three East African Countries of Ethiopia, Kenya & Uganda entailed on training youth on leadership, entrepreneurship, and business development. The project which was funded by FK Norway (Fredskoprset) impacted more than 2000 young people in the universities of the 3 countries. Through the exchange, Samson and his team from AISEC managed to give opportunities for 8 Ethiopians, 8 Ugandans, and 5 Kenyans, in total 21 young Africans on a fully-funded exchange program for 9 months.

Youth 4 Peace – The Programprimarily seeks to promote the meaningful participation of youth in all spectrums of peace and security by engaging them as leaders, partners, and implementers of peace initiatives but also working to dissuade them from all acts of violence. The initiative was first launched by the African Union which was later managed by O-YES Global Foundation to restore the program which included 107 university students in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Youth Entrepreneurs Fair – The Ethiopia Youth Entrepreneurs Fair (YEF) is a platform that will see Government bodies, Investors, NGOs, Universities, experienced entrepreneurs, new entrepreneurs, and over 300 youths to discuss issues and share their experiences on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Ethiopia. The event is meant to promote an entrepreneurial culture among the youth by exposing them to the vast network of opportunities in Ethiopia. The event will have different Speakers share their experiences on Entrepreneurship and also talk about some of the challenges and how the youth can overcome them. The event will also have an exhibition for Startups and SMEs to showcase their products.

The Manifesto – Samson worked with more than 5000 youths across the world to prepare a manifesto of youth on climate change in which the document compiled & adopted at the 11th Conference of Youth (COY11) in Paris was handed to the COP President in COP21 conference on December 2015. This information was used as a manifesto and input of the youth to the COP21 Int. Climate Conference.

Green Environment Initiative – The initiatives main goal is to create awareness, share knowledge and build the capacity of youth on environmental protection. The initiative planted many trees in several schools by coordinating 82 high school students.     

In his message to the youth across the globe, Samson says;

“I believe there is nothing we can’t do if we really want to do. if we came together to achieve a common goal like the SDGs.

Too often, many of us live with more awareness of our limitations than our potential. As a young person lets go out and try new things, it doesn’t matter if we fail or succeed. “We are not defined by our failures; instead we have to be empowered by them”. 

We have to realize every day is a new day and ask what we can do with it?

The trails of yesterday are behind us. A new day dawns, and with it comes possibilities, chances for success, innovation and discoveries are abundant. The opportunity to be better than we were yesterday is right here, right now. The chance to change our community, our country, our continent and the world is right in our hands.

We don’t have another world in some other place, we need to take care of it, for this let’s work together to make sure the SDGs are achieved fully across the globe. By all legal means, let’s hold responsible those governments who are not working towards achieving the SDGs.

We are the world and the world is nothing without us.”

Meet Janice de Graça, Cape Verde’s rising youth advocate

Janice de Graça describes herself as a “People Alchemist”, in there lies the idea of helping with transformation and growth and the expression of her commitment to empower and inspire others to feel, to think and to act in finding their true selves as well as build up the best version of themselves.


The poet and blogger, who graduated with high distinction in Social Policy from the University of Lisbon and with a post graduate degree in Art Education from the Open University of Lisbon believes that competing with oneself and collaborating with others creates the environment to easily foster change especially in the area of — and saving the planet.

At 33, Janice has engaged in volunteering, empowering and advocacy works for the past 18 years and believes in sharing her experiences through capacity building for global evolution.

Touching on her professional life, she narrated the challenges she faced defining herself as a professional in any field. She said: “The world tells us about having a specific profession and be part of a specific box. I never fit in. I like different areas of knowledge. I studied Science, Social Sciences, Art and literature and economics. I engaged in different approaches on my social intervention: social policy, community intervention, arts, writing, mentoring, coaching, facilitating, advocating, motivating, and organizing events and so on. I embrace my multiplicity.”

With the mindset of making a positive impact on our world, working with a multidisciplinary, integrative and cross-cultural approach, Janice has developed keen interest in Youth Activism with the conscious effort of actively participating in measures that “protect the planet”.

She narrates that “As a kid, I was very conscious about the need to protect our planet. I would never throw away trash and if I saw someone doing it, even if it was an adult, I would try to prevent it; as a teenager, I was always trying to mediate conflicts ad naturally engaging on activities with a bigger purpose and trying to defend and empower oppressed people.”

“I do believe in my responsibility to share all the blessings I´ve been given by God with the world, and all the skills I developed through hard work and contemplation to help to build a better world for all of us. I was blessed with an amazing education, a loving family; a capacity to put words out in a way that compels people to feel, think and take action and I am responsible for using those gifts for global evolution. I believe in my capacity to learn and to learn how to do better when what I know is not enough”

She also identified that one of the major issues facing young people today, across the world, is the difficulty of having their own voice and being able to put their thoughts out there. “Even some outstanding young people out there, some with relevant positions and a relevant set of achievements, are not speaking with their voice but with someone else´s words and beliefs. This wicked problem calls for a combined set of solutions”, she said.

Janice noted that there is the need for a revolution from a set of youth who are willing and ready to challenge the status-quo. She said although people who challenge the status-quo, the “sacred rules” of their time are seen as dangerous there is the need to educate our children on acceptance, cooperation, courage and to stand true to their values and what they believe in because it is children that grow up to become the youth of the nation and continent at large.


Current Projects

Janice currently runs AfriYAN Cabo Verde, serves on the board of AfriYAN West and Central Africa; a continental Network which she describes as a symbol of African global connections and youth empowerment for social change.

She said it provides a way to achieve more “if we work together and exchange experiences and opportunities between each other.”

In 2017, she was nominated to attend the AfriYAN West and Central Africa restructuration, in Senegal, by the Cape Verdean Youth Federation.

She recalls that “At that moment, I was thinking about “retiring” from youth activism to dedicate to my professional projects and that was supposed to be my last consultation on that level. However, as a delegate from my country, representing the Cape-Verdean youth, I felt that it was my duty to present my candidature to the board of AfriYAN West and Central Africa, as a way to approach Cape Verdean youth to youth from others countries on the continent. It was very competitive but we made it. AfriYAN Cabo Verde was born out of this experience. The principal objective of this first mandate is to implement the project in Cabo Verde and set the bases for future collaboration.”

Janice also started the Verbum Tactus, a special project which begun with the sole aim of voicing her thoughts, feelings and reflections in articles, poetry and quotes. She describes it in her blog as to “invite to feel, think and take action.”

According to the blogger cum poet, this became an art education project combining writing, photography, video and performance as a way of social intervention. You can follow the blog here: , and the Facebook Page here:

Answering questions on what three things she will channel her energy into, granted she’s the President of Africa, Janice listed education, inclusion and global partnerships for sustainable development. She elaborates further below:

Education – promoting an education as I describe that I believe that is needed on previous questions, involving skills as cooperative mindset, peace, self-confidence, emotional intelligence and similar.

Inclusion – creating spaces for everyone and respect for human rights.

Global partnerships for Sustainable Development – the world, especially Africa with all its natural resources, have resources for everyone to live happy and prosper. We are just using it in the wrong way.


She also advised the youth to “Work on yourself, find your best version, be happy, build prosperity, and give back to your community, with love. Dream and dare to make your dreams come true: our dreams together will build the world we dream about. This is your legacy to everyone who will come after you. When one person evolve, everything evolves around them.”