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O'Neall Massamba: Empowering Youth to Make a Change Locally and Globally

O'Neall Massamba: Empowering Youth to Make a Change Locally and Globally

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the changemaking leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with O'Neall Massamba, manager of the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022 and 2023. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how O'Neall is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Thanks for joining me, O'Neall! Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through the World Bank Group Youth Summit?

O'Neall: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! The World Bank Group Youth Summit thrives to offer a platform for youth to discuss pressing issues of development with their peers and global stakeholders. The goal is also to empower them and provide them with tools to make a change locally and globally.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

O'Neall: Before joining the World Bank Group (WBG), I was a delegate of the 2019 WBG Youth Summit, and I was struck by how empowering and inspiring this event was for youth. It not only promoted dialogue between the youth, the WBG, and other key stakeholders, but it also encouraged us to dream big and explore innovative ideas to address development challenges and change the status quo. Every single delegate I met, from the Republic of Congo to Australia, was inspired and driven to develop ideas that would make an impact in their communities and globally as well.

Spiffy: What is the impact of your work?

O'Neall: I have two hats at the WBG. As a transport specialist, I prepare and implement projects in West and Central Africa that participate in fostering connectivity, accessibility, and inclusivity. Through the Youth Summit, we connect young changemakers with each other (some have created their own initiatives inspired by the Youth Summit). We provide them platforms to share their innovative endeavors through the pitch competition, and to grow as changemakers through the case challenge, career development sessions, and networking. 

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your audience/community?

O'Neall: A recent milestone was achieving the ten year anniversary of the Youth Summit, and making the summit grow every year. We were able to have over a million persons visiting our public live-streaming page (WB live) to watch the event. And each year we have been beating the record of participation (close to 7,000 persons representing 120 countries registered to be a delegate) and adding new components to the summit to empower our participants. It was also extremely humbling to have David Malpass, the 13th President of the WBG deliver one of his last speeches and have the founder of the Youth Summit, Yvonne Kirabo, providing closing remarks. Having Yvonne with us was like a full-circle moment because she was the reason all of us were here today.

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

O'Neall: Make sure to register to attend the Youth Summit and other side events that happen before and after the summit. Finally, to echo the messages of our panelists during the summit, don't be afraid to take risks. My mom always tells me that when you fall you have to get back up; don't see the fall as a failure but as an additional step to overcome that will help you grow and be more resilient. Also do not be afraid to start small. With our theme this year, local solutions to drive global impact we want to show that even changes made on a small level scale can have a global impact.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, O'Neall—it’s been an honor!

O’Neall Massamba is a dual citizen of France and the Republic of Congo. She joined the World Bank in February 2020 and is now working as an African Diaspora Fellow for Infrastructure in the Transport Unit for West and Central Africa. She serves as manager of the World Bank Group Youth Summit. She was previously content co-lead and moderator for the 2021 World Bank Group Youth Summit. (First published on the Ladderworks website on August 10, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by George Romar. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.