Who / What is YES Akademia (YAKA, formerly Global Potential in France)?

YES Akademia (YAKA, formerly Global Potential in France) is a global grassroots for-social-profit organization founded in Paris, France in 2012. Y.E.S. stands for « Youth Empowerment and Solidarity » and Akademia refers to Plato’s multi-disciplinary learning forum circa 400 years B.C. The akademia was the first free and informal higher learning institution in the Western world, which aimed like us today to expand knowledge and the minds, attended by Aristotle and many other great philosophers of the world, with a sacred olive grove dedicated to Athena the goddess of wisdom! Plato’s akademia did not have any doctrine to teach but rather posed problems to be studied and solved by others. It was interested in practical issues as we are!

YAKA offers extra-curricular and pedagogical empowerment to youth inspired to create change from mixed social backgrounds mainly from marginalized neighborhoods. YAKA has a budget of approximately 150 000€ a year, with five salaried staff, consultants, interns and volunteers.

YAKA has 15 other non-paid pro-bono consultants, volunteers and interns. All team members are either administrative staff, youth facilitators, social workers, evaluators, experts in international development, volunteers, interns and activists as well as event planners. YAKA functions using a non-hierarchical management system called holacracy.


YAKA increases the self-esteem of youth from lower socio-economic neighborhoods by engaging them, their families, and their communities to learn about and work to address human rights locally and globally. YAKA has analyzed that educational programs delivered in isolated areas do not have programs that sufficiently reach outside of the box to combine multi-disciplinary options of activism, travel, social entrepreneurship, arts, and international cultural exchange. YAKA combats physical and mental segregation and empowers those who stand for the coming generations as powerful changemakers and entrepreneurs of their own lives.

YAKA’s innovative signature curriculum offers over 250 hours of workshops, along with intercultural experience abroad and mentoring in social entrepreneurship. YAKA provides youth with key tools to help them increase their level of consciousness and actions about development, social, cultural and environmental issues (see Program section below).


Throughout YAKA’s activities, many valuable partners joined our team and helped us have more impact locally and globally in a large range of fields. First and foremost, Global Potential in the US, with whom YAKA collaborates throughout the year in consulting and sharing best practices and traveling together during the summer time. Other partners and supporters are the generous De Groot Foundation for the Press Start entrepreneurship program in France, the American Women’s Group in Paris for mentorship and development projects, the Département de Seine Saint Denis for environmental projects with the COP21, the Fondation EDF for support for our signature 14-month program, the Ecole Jeannine Manuel as a partner in 2014 for the YAKA Connect trip to Nicaragua, Give1Project in Senegal for entrepreneurship programming, Association 120W for our open-space youth conferences, Proskauer Rose LLP for legal support, and many more.

Programs: how and where?

IMPOWER : The “14-month signature program” for youth aged 15-26. composed of 3 key phases

  • Preparation and raise of consciousness: 8 months of weekly 3-hours workshops mixing youth, volunteers and staff in Paris, France, to learn the tools for better public speaking, creating social entrepreneurship projects, understanding and acting upon social injustices locally and globally, how to create multicultural and culturally-sensitive development projects and much more.
  • Cultural Immersion: 1.5 months of cultural immersion in a rural village with YAKA’s partner countries : India, Senegal, Haiti, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic. YAKA youth leaders carry out internships, micro-development projects, daily workshops, some tourist
  • Action: 4.5 months of methodical mentoring to support youth in developing their skills and passions. This phase is meant to integrate their experiences during Phases 1 & 2 through their own social/cultural/ environment-friendly social entrepreneurship project.

“YAKA Connect&Go” – This is an condensed version of the 14-month Program for youth of all ages, of all horizons.

This program is spearheaded specifically by YAKA. It is renewed several times a year, notably during school breaks. It can be customized and adapted to specific projects in a targeted areas  and fields. The three phases are parallel to IMPOWER :

  • Preparation: three core workshops in Paris or virtually
  • Cultural Immersion: A 10-12 day immersion trip to a partner village to carry out a micro development project, internship and homestay
  • Action: three workshops upon return to integrate this experience.

YAKA has conducted a YAKA Connect&Go in Nicaragua in 2014 .The program was renewed in Senegal in December 2015 and we are planning another trip in April 2017 to India!

The eligible participants are sponsored 100% by their families or charities, to help generate revenue and partly fund IMPOWER offered to youth who can’t afford to sponsor their program.

Press Start: Social Entrepreneurship program, for youth aged 18 to 35 from all over France.

A hugely successful because it gathers diverse youth and professionals around the topics of entrepreneurship together for a two-week training program who meet 40 different entrepreneurs, from Héritier Luwawa to Yann Gozlan to Vincent Cespedes and Bouchra Aliouat (KPMG).

Press Start demonstrates the importance of bringing youth from multicultural and multireligious backgrounds together who might not otherwise have the chance to be valued in society for their initiatives and thoughts.

In 2014, YAKA decided to hone in on the social impact (“Economie Sociale et Solidaire”) of entrepreneurial youth. In 2015, YAKA chose the theme of the “environment” for its 2015 second edition of the program, renamed “Press Start”. The topics explored through these dialogues in France (Paris/Albi) and the United States (Boston) are focused on how youth social entrepreneurs, policy-makers, academics, civil society and decision-makers can create social change through exploring their own cultural and religious identities while focusing on questions related to environmental protection.

With the COP21 or CMP11 held in Le Bourget, France from November 30 to December 11, 2015, Press Start created multidisciplinary team of people to come together to discuss how religion and faith tie to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Through Press Start Dialogues youth explored together their role in the climate conference, and came together with academics, scholars, policy-makers and entrepreneurs, around a central topic, in order to explore identities. They figured out concrete solutions to commit to 50% reduction in global warming pollution by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In September and October 2015, Press Start organized one panel event at Northeastern University School of Law Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy in Boston as well as two panels in Paris and the South of France with some speakers from Northeastern Law School as well as from Cambridge University Judge Business School’s Center for Social Innovation. This was integrated into the wider summer camp Press Start program.

Below are some participants during Press Start, who are policy-makers, law professors, entrepreneurs, innovators, founders of responsible organizations, academics, scholars, activists and alumni of YES Akademia:

1. Eric Allmang, Founder and Director of Incub Ethic, http://www.incubethic.fr/

2. Daniel Alfaro, Global Potential Boston Alumni and Program Director, http://m.elplaneta.com/news/2014/may/19/powermeter-100/

4. Sofiane Bouarif, YAKA Alumni

5. Max Boulanger, Director of the IUT de Montreuil

7. Wadia Chaftar, Entrepreneur, Covet Chic, http://www.covetchic.com/en/

8. Laure Ducos, Project Manager, BLOOM, http://www.bloomassociation.org/nous-connaitre/notre-equipe/

9. Dr Sami Everett, Woolf Institute researcher on interfaith cooperation

10. Héritier Luwawa, CEO at DWEHO Groupe / BE Eco Services, http://www.be-eco-services.fr/

11. Kevin Murray, Executive Director, PHRGE, Northeastern University School of Law, Boston

12. Neil Stott, Senior Teaching Faculty in Social Innovation, Executive Director of the Centre for Social innovation, Cambridge University Judge Business School, http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/faculty-research/faculty-a-z/neil-stott/

13. Dave Wasserman, Director and Founder of Os Figueros, http://osfigueiros.com/