YouthConnekt scoops UNDP innovation award
UNDP Rwanda’s YouthConnekt video won the first prize at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa's innovation fair on 1 December in Johannesburg, South Africa. The award includes a US$ 75,000 contribution towards the implementation of the YouthConnekt project.
YouthConnekt has been initiated by the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) in partnership with UNDP, ADMA, Tigo, and HeHe as a platform to connect innovative young Rwandans to help with the country’s inclusive economic transformation. This platform serves as a channel for youth, private sector, and government to address the challenges youth are facing in terms of employment and entrepreneurship.
The platform has a practical, results-oriented format, including interactive, multi-stakeholder panel discussions, partnership announcements, as well as opportunities for participants to showcase their innovative ideas and projects to potential partners.
The YouthConnekt hangouts provide a networking platform for leaders from the public, private and financial sectors to meet and forge new partnerships for the future.
The hangouts focus on different themes such as Youth Employment, Entrepreneurship, Youth Access to Finance; Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICT4D), Investment Promotion, and are supported by an active website and social media.
As such, YouthConnekt connects youth to opportunities such as skills development, jobs, access to finance, business incubators, mentorships, and internships.
In a reaction, the Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana congratulated UNDP Rwanda with the award and urged youth to explore new and seize the available opportunities. “We want to build an active and innovative community that is confident in its ability to solve its own challenges by making a smart use of the abundant opportunities around us” he said. He emphasized that ideas exchange would boost the youth’s critical thinking and innovation capabilities. “We are focusing on developing the youth because they are the future and are more innovative while taking on community challenges and turning them into opportunities”.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin M. Manneh, said “Building the skills of young people, harnessing their energy, and realizing their aspirations will help Rwanda improving its living standards and igniting inclusive economic growth. Empowering them with opportunities to reach and applying their full potential are both our most important challenges and our most vital opportunities”.
Both the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2) of the Government of Rwanda and the UN roadmap for the new development agenda after the MDGs expire in 2015 identify Youth employment and Inclusive Growth as one of the major shifts that need to happen to end extreme poverty and improve livelihoods. They stress the importance of diversified economies, with equal opportunities for all, to drive social inclusion, especially for young people, by harnessing innovation, technology, and the potential of business.