Hi, my name is Moses Agbara, I live in Abuja – Nigeria and work with a nonprofit called Youth Initiative for Sustainable Human Development in Africa (YiSHDA). My team and I recently delved into the realm of systems thinking by jointly taking a course on the platform, as sponsored by the Omidyar group, in a bid to understand the complexities in systems and to make our work at YiSHDA more profound. (This was discussed in a previous blog by Felicia Chavez on the Systems Thinking Marin website.) We had the single task of choosing a systems challenge to analyze as a precursor to completing the course and also strengthening our approach to issues in the youth development space.

The systems challenge we chose to tackle is “Youth unemployment in Nigeria.” This is because youth unemployment is the bedrock of many societal ills in Nigeria, from acts of terrorism, rising cases of financial frauds, armed robbery, prostitution and poverty to mention a few. Tackling this challenge is important to us because it will lead to a more prosperous Nigerian society.

This course begins with the team developing a Guiding Star, Near Star, and Framing Question.

Guiding Star

A transformed economic system, backed by formidable policies that provides equal opportunities for the gainful employment of skilled and competent youth workforce, improving the quality of life for all.

Near Star

Track the implementation of Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan across all levels of government in a bid to review progress, gaps and make recommendations as needed.

Framing Question

What are the factors inhibiting the effective implementation of the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan across all levels of government in Nigeria?

Moses' group whole systems map in Kumu

Whole System

Click on the image to the left to open a larger version of it. This systems map represents the outcome of an extensive process teams undergo throughout the course.

Below is a detailed look at the connections our group made between these various factors and how they influence each other.

Screenshot of Kumu Map portion


By “Accountability” we mean government and other community leaders being taken seriously when they make a statement, and the public responsibility to follow-through and follow-up to the best of our ability.

Low levels of Accountability (indicated by the “-” sign) lead to low levels of funds reaching their intended target.

Image of Kumu map - funds reaching their intended target leading to adequacy of project implementation

Funds Reaching Intended Projects

By “Adequacy of Project Implementation” we mean the ultimate quality of the execution of the project as a whole.

Low levels of Funds Reaching Intended Projects leads to inadequate project implementation, including project abandonment.

Quality of Infrastructure

By “Quality of Infrastructure” we mean the overall quality of infrastructure across projects. We are also concerned with the degree to which a project is able to serve the intended purpose over time. Together these factors form an overall sense of the quality of our society, what the public has access to, and this goes on to inform our potential for economic development.

Inadequate Project Implementation leads to low Quality of Infrastructure.

Answer to Framing Question

We started with this question: “What are the factors inhibiting the effective implementation of the Nigerian Youth Employment Action Plan across all levels of government in Nigeria?” As you can see from the map we created, corruption stood out as a very central factor in what inhibits effective implementation of this plan. Toward the later part of the course, teams reflect on the maps they have created to identify potential for positive change, verses areas that are unresponsive. My team identified that employment levels are responsive areas of the map, and we can leverage on entrepreneurship trainings and support. That support can be in the form of access to capital with low interest rates, entrepreneurship support networks, technology, and equipment to make the system healthier. All support should be informed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 to ensure and improve human and ecological wellbeing.


Our team at YiSHDA started with the Systems Thinking Marin “Systems Thinking Mini-Course.” Our participation in the Omidyar course followed on from that experience. Our goal was to train and develop staff capacity further on systems thinking knowledge and awareness.

Since taking this course as staff of YiSHDA, we have adopted a series of recommendations. In the future, we plan to look at each of YiSHDA’s initiatives through the systems thinking lens. (We want to look at the relationships between elements in the systems, the ability to hold the one and the many, and a shift in our point of view.) For example, adopting and establishing robust relationships with project communities that transcend a project’s life. This may include carrying out empathy walks to gain an in-depth knowledge of issues to be addressed. We also plan to adopt an issue based/policy brief strategy at the end of a project, or at intervals throughout a project in view of sharing knowledge with relevant stakeholders.

If you will like to contribute to efforts to bring systems thinking to Abuja – Nigeria, we invite you to visit YiSHDA’s website and support our cause.