IMA World Health/Kara Eberle

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MA’s Jean-Marc Mercy was recently recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative for his idea to increase young people’s employability through volunteerism and social entrepreneurship in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

His Bridge Project was one of seven ideas chosen from 177 submissions from around the world, according to the Clinton Foundation. He and two other challengers were invited to the CGI 10th Annual Meeting Sept. 21-24 in New York. While there, he was recognized on stage by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

The Clinton Global Initiative and OpenIDEO announced the Global Challenge on Youth Employment this summer. The goal was to find new ways to improve youth employment around the world.

“With nearly 75 million young people unemployed globally and hundreds of millions more underemployed, our challenge sought out unique ideas from communities around the world to create employment pathways and opportunities for youth,” The Clinton Foundation website states.

And the challenge was accepted.

During the past two months, ideas were submitted by people in 142 countries. Read about the winning entries here.

Mercy submitted his project in the hopes that he can help 18 to 25-year-olds in his community and church. The Bridge would connect college students in Kinshasa with volunteer opportunities in their areas of interest and help prepare them for the recruitment process through resume writing and interviewing skills support.

“It’s something that’s never been tried in Congo, putting young people in organizations as volunteers,” he said recently, while waiting on a flight from Amsterdam.

The recognition shows the viability of the project, he said. And now that his idea has been chosen as a winner, he has been put in touch with potential funders and partners who will help implement the project. Although no resources have been provided so far, he has a few resources in the DRC he is going to use to establish the startup: a youth center that will tap into young people’s potential for employment and entrepreneurship, and become the premiere youth research center in DRC to inform data-driven decisions and evidence-based interventions. Meanwhile, he’ll remain in touch with CGI to get more resources as he works to implement The Bridge.

In the long term, he envisions the Bridge Project to become a multiyear program that will change the face of youth employment in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the aim to help young people to become change agents and active participants to the social economic development of their country.

Mercy has been IMA’s human resources manager in the DRC since January 2013.