The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the National Youth Authority (NYA) awarded 16 young innovators a total amount of 80,000 US dollars (5,000 USD each) at the Youth Innovation for Sustainable Development (YISD) challenge. The award winners will also benefit from mentorships and coaching as well as business development support services.
The challenge, organised by UNDP and NYA, under the Ghana YouthConnekt Platform, is part of efforts to support young people in Ghana to develop innovative ideas, test ground-breaking solutions, and unlock and harness their creative and innovative potentials towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The winning innovations from the 16 young people, aged between 23 to 35, include solutions for tackling digital and financial illiteracy during pregnancy; improving access to health facilities by customizing tricycles into mobile ambulances; recycling waste to make affordable egg incubators; skills training in handcrafting for physically challenged and rural women who are making shoes, handbags and other products. Others include using recycled scrap fabrics and plastics for decorative pieces; a crime detecting app; a media platform for the deaf; all-year round vegetable and fish farming enabled by recycling waste and water (aquaponics); using recycled box made from car tyres for snail keeping; harnessing plant resources for sustainable healthcare; tiger nut value chain development; an online education app; e-commerce connected with tree planting; optometric healthcare support system, hygienic lab coats and an innovation lab.
The young innovators excitedly received their awards under the cheers of their fellow contestants and thanked UNDP and NYA for this support that will allow them to scale up their innovations. They noted that the opportunity will help them to further develop their ideas to effectively contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
"After registration, I did not have enough money to scale up my herbal business. Winning this is a dream come true. I feel fulfilled and ready to prove my worth. I am really grateful to UNDP and NYA for this opportunity", noted Enoch Keitu, one of the award winners.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Ms. Silke Hollander, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, noted that the YISD challenge seeks to motivate young people to innovate solutions for addressing SDGs challenges.
“UNDP is committed to supporting young people’s innovative solutions for the achievement of the SDGs and will continue to support your efforts through our accelerator lab initiative, the YouthConnekt platform and other youth-oriented platforms”, she assured the audience.
Mr. Nelson Owusu Ansah, Deputy CEO of Programmes and Operations at NYA noted that the youth innovation challenge has been very competitive, starting from reviewing over 300 applications received from across the country, to selection of 39 innovators to pitch and finally to the 16 winners from the Northern and the Southern zones of Ghana.
Looking at the submissions received and the pitches, Mr. Owusu Ansah added that these demonstrated the wealth of untapped ideas and innovations of the Ghanaian Youth which if harnessed, will contribute to changing the paradigm and mindset of the Ghanaian youth from job seeking to job creation.
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 of partnerships that seek to unleash the enormous potential in young people. Other components of the platform include SkillsConnekt, Youth Integrate, Convention (National Youth Week), GO-LEAD and YouthConnekt Hang Out which gives young people a seat at the table and connects them to role models, resources, knowledge, skills, and attitudes.