The 16 winners of the Youth Innovation for Sustainable Development (YISD) challenge organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Youth Authority (NYA), under the Ghana YouthConnekt platform, kick-started their 9weeks business development incubation programme. This forms part of a winning package from UNDP and NYA to support young innovators to pilot and scale up their innovations towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Facilitated by Ashesi Design Lab, the incubation programme involves a combination of mentorship and in-class training. The innovators are meeting periodically in class to discuss various concepts for their business ideas. They have also been assigned mentors and coaches to guide them to grow their businesses.
“Our vision is that at the end of this training, innovators will make strategic impacts on their community members and customers, their businesses will be sustainable, and they will acquire the knowledge and expand access to their consumers and targets”, Eugene Eluerkeh, Lead Facilitator from Ashesi Design Lab stated.
UNDP and NYA launched the YISD challenge in December 2019, after a competitive selection process; from reviewing over 300 submissions from young people, pitching of innovations to finally awarding 16 young innovators a total amount of 80,000 US dollars (5,000 USD each).
The innovators expressed their satisfaction with the YISD Challenge and are optimistic of the impact the incubation sessions will have on their respective initiatives and ideas. They hinted that the few sessions they have had so far are contextualizing their ideas into marketable solutions.
“We have had few interactions with our facilitators, and I am already getting new ideas to scale up my innovation. I am expectant, hopeful and poised to learn more”, revealed Felix Appiah, one of the innovators, who uses recycled box made from car tyres for snail keeping.
Frederick Mugisha, Economic Advisor at UNDP Ghana emphasized UNDP’s commitment to supporting young people’s innovative solutions to accelerate SDGs actions. He noted that the youth innovation challenge and associated mentorship programme is one of UNDP’s ways of connecting knowledge and resources to young people and entrepreneurs.
“I urge you all as young innovators and entrepreneurs to consider yourselves not only as winners of this challenge but also as key partners to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs”, Dr. Mugisha urged.
The Youth Innovation for Sustainable Development challenge is one component of the YouthConnekt platform which acts as a convener, both physically and virtually, and as a catalyst for partnerships that seek to unleash the enormous potential in young people.