Pictures and text by Mahamadou TRAORÉ with contributions from Ismail KELLY ISKO.

Big thanks to Abdoulaye Coulibaly and Oury DIAGNE for your voices and passion.

One of the RAESS initiatives was the Malian JeunESSe Caravan, which was part of a wider GSEF proposal to bring young people from all countries around Senegal to the meeting allowing young people to have an important place and responsibility within the 6th Edition of the Global SSE Forum (GSEF) 2023.

Faced with the many socio-economic and environmental problems and shocks that humanity is experiencing, it is important to review our ways of working and propose innovative alternative solutions that take into account the diverse needs of communities and peoples. In Africa, young people under the age of 35 make up two thirds of the population. In the face of these challenges and the need for young people to be inventive in building the future of their countries, SSE can be seen as a development model that focuses on social and economic needs through solidarity, ethics, sharing, equity and democracy.

This Caravan initiative was born out of the organisers’ desire to involve young people more in decision-making regarding the social and solidarity economy. Organisations, associations and groups supporting SSE initiatives were contacted through the focal points of the networks. In Mali, it was the National Network of Support for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (Renapess-Mali) that chose the caravanners, who left from the Bamako district town hall, before crossing the country westwards to Senegal via the Kidira border.

Around 150 young people took part in the caravan. The caravans were contacted through the focal points of each country: First of all, the focal point of the country in question will make a call or a contact meeting with the relevant actors of the caravan for the orientation of the Pre-Forum Jeun’ESS, i.e. the objectives of the caravaneers and their expectations as representatives of a delegation.
The trip took place in a good mood, with caravanners singing and dancing on the bus. Many alliances were forged, especially between young and old, and discussions were held on African unity and the social and solidarity economy. During the trip, a climate of solidarity and fairness prevailed. It was a time for sharing and discovering new points of view, sharing experiences and getting in touch with other Caravaners.

We participated in all the activities of the GSEF Dakar 2023. Starting with the JeunESS (Youth) preforum, the Womens preforum and the forum itself. The Malian caravaners also participated brilliantly in several panels to make this caravan an opportunity to acquire ideas.
In addition, there was room for moments of exchange and conviviality, such as a march in Dakar in which each participant carried a flag of their territory. Young people; activists and militants, working in their home countries to change the status quo. In addition, there were moments of entertainment featuring the traditions and folklore of each country.

These people are already preparing for the next GSEF World Forum on Social and Solidarity Economy, to be held in two years’ time in Bordeaux (France): the future holds many surprises and constraints, and together we must create a framework for young people to exchange ideas.