Harnessing Youth Entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe: Key to a Better Future

Entrepreneurship is the key driving tool for most African economies. It facilitates effective economic growth and development for enhanced sustainability. Most young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs who strive to see a better Zimbabwe in the near future have taken this to heart.

The youth peak bulge has not spared Zimbabwe, as estimates reflect that it is probable that 60% of Zimbabwe’s national population is under the age of 30. Like many other young people in Africa, Zimbabwean youth have been challenged by the predicament of high unemployment rates and limited civic engagement opportunities, amongst other adversities.

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The informal sector dominates the Zimbabwean economy. More youth are now entering the scene with hopes of economic survival, yet the job market is not opening up enough opportunities for them. This has been lamented by many youth entrepreneurs. Despite many of them having received a good education, some are still unable to find stable, formal jobs.

Most universities are churning out more graduates than the economy can sustainably accommodate in its current state. However, many of the schools are also channeling out students who have more book knowledge than the technical skills required for self-sufficiency in the current market.


The MY World global survey shows that in Zimbabwe most people want a good education. The sampled entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe reinforced this. They want to see an education system which explores more and delves deeper into instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in its curriculum. They wish to have an education system which is not over-reliant on job acquisition immediately following graduation, but one that instead focuses on acquiring a set of business skills which will help in the development and sustenance of entrepreneurial ventures. It is with this notion that the entrepreneurial spirit could be embraced and fueled by graduates, or within the universities’ immediate communities.

The exact unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is currently unknown, but estimates as high as 95% have been calculated for the country. Youths face an uncertain future, but for many of them hope has been rekindled with the surge of entrepreneurial ventures. The hope is to create self-employment opportunities that will lead to a constant revenue flow, allowing sustainability in line with household expectations.

The Building Bridges’ Road to Nairobi 2016 project seeks to harness the spirit of entrepreneurship within all youth to inspire hope for the future, in which effective growth and sustenance is in reach.


Zimbabwean youth entrepreneurs face a range of challenges such as lack of financial assistance and restrictive government regulations on company registration. These difficulties hinder them from seeing their dreams as viable ventures.

Despite the many struggles that youth encounter along the way in changing the current economic landscape, they continue to shed light on the hope that entrepreneurship is key to a better future. From the exuberant energy exhibited by most entrepreneurs, it has been established that youth have the innovation and energy that is required to drive successful enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures

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Youth are characterized as vibrant, go-getters and enthusiastic, and such energy if well applied, will lead into the successful implementation of the SDGs. Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are working on challenges they identify in their communities, such as the lack of access to basic education, unaffordable healthcare, health problems due to poor cooking fuels and many more.  

The future is in the hands of youth who define and map the journey that lies ahead. It is with this notion that youth could be effectively equipped with the necessary business skills to be the ones to see through the successful implementation of the SDGs.

These are a few of the solutions to improve the entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth in Zimbabwe deduced from the hearts and minds of the surveyed entrepreneurs:

  • Terrence: Government should create an enabling environment, incentivize people through the creation of funding structures, and build a strong database for youth entrepreneurs to access mentorship who will oversee the successful running of the businesses.
  • Candice: Youth should be made aware of the beauty of entrepreneurship. People have great ideas but they can’t develop them without assistance.
  • Shaun: Government could have proxies in youth businesses to ensure that they are run sustainably. This way you can give funds and ensure they will be paid back.
  • Tinashe: Entrepreneurship should be made part of the curriculum. The youth needs to get inspired, motivated.
  • Tichaona: We need a hub for entrepreneurs. We need IT skills and to make changes through technology.
  •  Chiedza: We need a transparent government where ministers are held accountable. They should focus on advancement of the country rather than how much they can make by helping you.

Author: Kudzanai Chimhanda (Country Team Zimbabwe of the the Building Bridges Foundation)


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We’re Hiring in Bonn! Join our growing Global Campaign Center

Do you want to be a part of the UN SDG Action Campaign’s brand new Global Campaign Center in Bonn, Germany and work on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Global Campaign Center is designed as a strategic hub for the UN SDG Action Campaign to deliver on its mandate to inspire people’s action on the SDGs, connect and amplify stakeholder efforts, including those of the UN system and Member States, open up measures of accountability, aggregate citizen-generated data, showcase impact, share best practices, and incubate and test out innovative efforts around SDG implementation.

If this sounds exciting to you, then here’s your chance because we are actively looking for new talents to join our dynamic team. As the Campaign begins to build our Global Campaign Center in Bonn, Germany, we want to encourage everyone with the passion for Sustainable Development and the technical portfolio in Communications, Administration, Project implementation and Event Management to apply. Below are the opportunities, click the links to learn more and APPLY before 21st October, 2016!

Media and Communications Consultant

Support the media and communications efforts around key events of the UN SDG Action Campaign in Bonn and internationally

Support the media and communications work of the Global Campaign Center in Bonn

Contribute to the communications efforts of the Campaign

Administrative Consultant

Provide effective administrative and logistical support for the establishment and effective functioning of the Global Campaign Center in Bonn

Support the launch of the Global Campaign Center, the SDG Action Forum and other relevant Campaign events in Bonn and internationally

Provide support to office maintenance and assets management

Project Consultant

Support in the product design activities of MY World 2030, securing of key partnerships, design of the web-portal and strategic input into the promotional plans in collaboration with the MY World 2030 working group

Support in maintaining relationships with key internal and external partners and stakeholders

Events Management Consultant

Support the launch event of Global Campaign Center in Bonn

Support the organization of the SDG Action Forum in Bonn

Support the organization and management of other events in Bonn


Championing Youth Entrepreneurship in Mozambique with Building Bridges

img_2571The Road to Nairobi 2016 Project, with the support of the local World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper Hub, traveled around the greater Maputo area to meet 10 youth entrepreneurs working in a variety of sectors, in order to learn from their challenges and to get a better understanding of their lived experiences. The ventures discovered ranged from a tech startup working on information asymmetry in the labor market, to a design firm which transforms waste into materials for interior design. These individual stories are featured on the Humans of MY World photo-narrative blog.


The path of an entrepreneur in Mozambique can be difficult and trying at times; a few of the entrepreneurs we met noted how the economic climate is having an impact on their businesses. Even so, some young people are choosing entrepreneurship as an alternative to looking for a job, where they are confronted by a youth unemployment rate estimated at around 80%. The young people who are resilient enough to try youth entrepreneurship need support, role models and an enabling environment. 

Frederico Peres Da Silva, co-founder of a tech startup in Maputo, recognizes the importance of entrepreneurial role models: “If you are in the [United] States, a CEO understands the value of mentoring a startup. You know why? Because he’s heard of Facebook, he’s heard of Snapchat, he’s heard of WhatsApp. He goes, ‘Oh, what if this is the next Facebook?’ To change that perception in Mozambique you need to have a couple of references in the market. You need to have your champions.”

Graca Machel, SDG Advocate speaks at the Mozambican Building Bridges Forum

Young Mozambicans that have taken to the MY World global survey prioritize good education as one of the key areas where  they hope to see positive improvement. The youth entrepreneurs we met further discussed the current education system and their experiences with it.  However, they are not only focused on education in general, but see the importance of having practical skills and experience in the workplace as the key to success in their entrepreneurial journey.

Lack of technological infrastructure and resources are other challenges to educational access and entrepreneurship in Mozambique. Frederico is using technology to help young unemployed Mozambicans access the job opportunities through their phones.

img_2754Where gaps and challenges exist, young people in Mozambique are stepping up to empowering each other and themselves. Marlene de Souza found that young people were unable to communicate and translate their knowledge into action in the workplace. She started a company which offers training to university students on skills such as how to successfully enter the job market and how to communicate with “attitude,” so that these students can bridge the gap between the academic and labor market.

Diogo Lucas started a business to help SMEs access finance and gave them the tools to mature into sustainable businesses. According to Diogo, this is something SMEs really need: “There are opportunities for small businesses but they’re not developing because there is not enough support, there’s not enough money. Bank finance is hard to come by with all these challenges. When I was travelling across the country I realized that it’s not because they have bad businesses. It’s because people don’t have the skills or the ability to access capital that can help them grow and develop.”


Sázia Souza runs a company which offers tech solutions to companies and private individuals. Twice a month, she and her team trains children on how to use computers. When asked about her passion for technology and education, Sázia said: “Mozambique has a problem when it comes to using technology. People are not prepared for the future. Technology is growing too fast. When you go to some schools, they don’t even have computer lessons. Even the teachers don’t know how to use the computers.”

Youth entrepreneurs in Mozambique are working to carve a bright future for themselves. They are working together and with other young people to support skills development while growing a culture of entrepreneurship. To help them on this path, it is important to understand the Mozambican context as well as the lived experiences of rural and urban young Mozambicans in order to empower them for success. The Road to Nairobi team spoke to youth entrepreneurs and asked them what changes they would like to see to support youth entrepreneurship in Mozambique:

  • Lineu: More young people need to have the courage to start for themselves. I started with nothing and almost 100% of the people didn’t believe in me.
  • Claudio: When you register a business, you are sent from one place to another. The process will be better when everything is in one place. It should take less time and require fewer documents.
  • Wilton: Government must create conditions for young entrepreneurs to develop businesses. Especially fiscal policy because currently, police doesn’t differentiate between being a young entrepreneur or an old entrepreneur.
  • Sides: We need more incubators with people who have been trained to support youth entrepreneurs.

Authors: Samantha Ndiwalana (Project Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation) and Annemarelle van Schayik (Research Manager of the Building Bridges Foundation).


#UNGA71 – Bringing Peoples’ Voices into the mix

From Nigeria to China, From UNHQ to Microsoft, the SDG Action Campaign working with Multi-Stakeholders to Ensure We Leave No One Behind during the 71st UNGA.

It’s been a busy 71th UNGA week. At the SDG Action Campaign, we spent the week strategizing with partners from around the world on how to bridge the technological divide, adopt innovative communication methods and more effectively build multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder partnerships. This is done in the effort to ensure that throughout the SDG advocacy and implementation process, the voices of the most marginalized are heard loud and clear. Together with world leaders, governments, youth-led organizations, parliamentarians, and the private sector, this week we delve deeper into how to make the ambitious SDGs a reality for everyone, everywhere on a local, regional and global level. Here’s a brief recap of all the exciting innovations, conversations, events, and actions from UNGA 2016 Week!

At the Inter-agency UNDG Side-Event, SDGs Coming to Life, the Germany Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, H.E. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made a clear call to action for everyone to join into the SDG Action Campaign. It was wonderful to see this packed event bringing together Member States, Civil Society, Youth, and Private Sector colleagues. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urged everyone to take action and to bring inspiration to those who need it the most. Together, indeed, we will bring the SDGs to Life!

In case you missed this incredible event, check out the SDG Action Campaign’s newest video highlighting you, the people, and how we’re going to leave no one behind for the #SDGs.


On 21 September, the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations co-hosted a UNGA side event with the SDG Action Campaign on multi-stakeholders’ engagement in the implementation of the SDGs in African nations. In his opening remarks, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Geoffrey Onyeama illustrated the need for country-level, multi-stakeholder engagement, proclaiming that for the SDGs to be realized, we need ALL HANDS FIRMLY ON DECK.

For the SDG Action Campaign, the UNGA week came to a brilliant conclusion with the annual Data Playground event in collaboration with UN Global Pulse and Microsoft. Kicked off by a High-Level Panel discussion attended by the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor for Agenda 2030 and Senior Executives from Twitter, Microsoft and the Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data. The event showcased innovative data and solutions from across the UN system, featuring showcases and workshops from the SDG Action Campaign, WFP, UNICEF, UNDP, OCHA and many others. 


Throughout the week, we had many visitors and received a particularly warm visit from the Campaign’s long standing Chinese youth-led organization partner, Youthink Center. 17 students and young professionals from across the country discussed with the Campaign grassroots engagement strategies for the SDGs and MY World 2030 as it relates to their lives and communities.

The @SDGAction helped facilitate a portal to be installed in the Sputnik Center inside of UNHQ. This offered world leaders an unique opportunity to virtually meet with refugees and people from vulnerable communities. The Netherlands was a major sponsor for the Portal by Shared Studios and Minister H.E. Ploumen used this innovative technology to meet and converse with refugees living in Iraq. Through the Campaign’s series, we were able to virtually introduce a young Syrian girl named Sidra who lives in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan to the Foreign Minister of Malaysia.

Many of these activities were planned to fall within the inaugural #globalgoals week, a joint initiative of SDG Action Campaign, UNDP, UNF and Project Everyone. The week saw a huge host of activities to promote and engage people everywhere in the achievement of the Goals. The week also saw the SDG Action Campaign launch two exciting pieces of content in collaboration with the above partners, the ‘We have a Plan’ video and ‘Numbers in Action’ we encourage you to view these and give us your feedback. Let us all keep taking bold action towards fulfilling this ambitious agenda for people and planet.

So you ask, now that the GA is over, what’s next? Here’s a hint: See you in Bonn (Check out this video)!


Building Bridges Road to Nairobi meets youth entrepreneurs across South Africa

The Building Bridges Foundation has completed traveling through South Africa, its first country on the Road to Nairobi. With its mission to foster youth-led solutions at the grassroots level in order to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the team met with over a hundred youth entrepreneurs across the country. The Foundation’s seeks to learn from grassroots youth entrepreneurs to to understand their day-to-day challenges and how these entrepreneurs have thus far managed to overcome them. 

Samantha Ndiwalana, Building Bridges Project Manager, and Annemarelle van Schayik, Building Bridges Research Manager, report back on the team’s journey through South Africa.

IMG_20160906_142901.jpgThe Building Bridges core team in front of their bus

“African problems, need African solutions” – some South African youth have taken this approach to heart and are fighting for a better future every day. In South Africa there are more than 19 million young people between the ages of 15 and 34 (as defined by South Africa’s National Youth Policy), that is 42% of the population.

Strikingly, among the 9.8 million youth in South Africa’s labour force only 6.2 million were employed and more than 3.6 million youth were unemployed in 2015, with unemployment being especially high for those residing in rural areas. However, most people cannot afford to be unemployed due to the lack of significant safety nets and the responsibility to care for their families.

IMG_20160907_175928.jpgThe Building Bridges team visiting a young poultry farmer in Vredeford

Today’s South African youth were born in the last years of, or just after, Apartheid. Since then regardless of race, color or gender all youth should have the same access to resources and opportunities in theory. However, the lived reality is that black South Africans struggle more than white South Africans, not necessarily solely because of race, but also because of a different upbringing and exposure from a young age.

According to one black youth entrepreneur, “white people have more social capital. At home you can talk about having a business and your parents can introduce you to people who can help you. Most black people don’t have that.”

14053918_1766289320279392_1969452852959175315_o.jpgThe Building Bridges team meets the young entrepreneur behind Sisanda Energy Lab

The MY World global survey led by the UN SDG Action Campaign shows that in South Africa most people want “A good education”. In the past years, thousands of youth have gone onto the streets to stop university tuition fee increases and instead are demanding free education. In a country where many black South Africans are the first of their generation to enter university, keeping up with fees and other university expenses is a challenge. Many drop out before graduating due to “financial exclusion”. Still, a future without a university diploma is seen as one of insecurity and poverty.

South African youth’s priority is not only education, they are also concerned with being taught the skills that will enable them to succeed. “We don’t learn practical skills. There is no talk about running a business up till high school. How can we take care of ourselves?”, remarked one youth.

Youth who drop out of university or do not continue after high school should have learned skills to create a better life for themselves than their parents had. Youth are the future and they all should be given the tools to contribute to a better future for themselves, their communities and South Africa as a whole.

Entrepreneurial innovations should be encouraged from a young age. Schools play a fundamental role in this. A white-collar job is not the only path to success and wealth. As skills training goes underutilized, there are opportunities for individuals with, for example, artisan, technical, electronic or plumbing training. There are many self-employment opportunities in these fields. In fact, South Africa is in need of local entrepreneurs who can create sustainable businesses.

13975260_1765539727021018_91416547130337434_o.jpgThe team meets with youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein

South African youth have great potential to innovate, to change, to create solutions. Of course, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, but those who have the passion and the drive can potentially learn the skills. Their success is not just on the individual level. It carries through their communities and their nation as they employ other youth.

Youth entrepreneurs not only address issues of decent employment opportunities, but also other striking local problems. Youth are drivers of innovation. On their journey through South Africa the Building Bridges team met, among others, innovative youth who are working on hydroponic farming, an interactive, but informative game about energy and how to handle, a cheaper medical insurance solution for uninsured South Africans.

Youth entrepreneurs are the future. But before changes can be made, we need to understand what the lived experiences of South African youth are and what can be done to enable them to succeed.

IMG_20160907_175938.jpgA Building Bridges event with various youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga

Besides a pressing lack of business education from a young age and role models, many black youth entrepreneurs found the access to business registration lacking. We were told time after time that the decentralized government system is confusing and that the entrepreneurs wasted time being sent back and forth from office to office. Others were unemployed and had difficulty paying the needed business registration fees.

One youth entrepreneur stated, “there are a lot of young people who have ideas; they’re really strong ideas that are so powerful. The problem is, you are unemployed, but you’ve been told to open a bank account it is R500 (US$35.28), you’ve been told that to register a company it’s R400(US$28.22), your certificates that you needed, your BEE and your other certificates are quite expensive. And you are unemployed.”

Those that succeeded then found it difficult to get the startup capital needed. They were seen as risks by the banks and government funding was often unavailable for their type of business. However, besides lacking capital, many entrepreneurs also face negative feedback from their communities. Whole families depend on their income. Brothers’ tuition fees, sisters’ mobile data, and of course there needs to be food on the table. Working from 8 to 5 means a stable income and is the desired path by the wider community. All odds are against the young South African entrepreneur to succeed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 14.27.37.pngYouth entrepreneurs from South Africa

So what can be done? Building Bridges asked the youth entrepreneurs themselves. After all they are the experts:

  • Innocentia: “We need to change how things are run. The government offices should guide entrepreneurs. They should be people who are passionate, who care.”
  • Joyce: “The government can subsidize [registration costs]. It is expensive for an unemployed person to pay and there are a lot of procedures.”
  • Xola: “We need an entrepreneurial culture, a critical mass. We need more black entrepreneurial heroes. Youth need to be able to identify with people who are like them.”
  • Vusumuzi: “Banks can create a different loan system. They should invest in the youth.”
  • Major: “We need practical things when going to programs and incubators. The people presenting don’t understand what we go through. They are not entrepreneurs. We should learn from entrepreneurs.”



ACLS International Summer School students and faculty meet UN SDG Action Campaign & UN Colleagues

Master’s and doctoral students as well as faculty of the Education Academy of Computational Life Sciences (ACLS) International Summer School engaged on harnessing technology and data for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations headquarters yesterday, 29 August 2016.

IMG_7ovu7d.jpgACLS International Summer School delegation visits “SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind” exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters

This year’s ACLS International Summer School, led by Professor Yutaka Akiyama,Dr. Eng. and Professor Takashi Harada, jointly hosted by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Cornell University, has the thematic background of the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, students and faculty took a special tour of the SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters, experienced the UN Portal installation and the UN Virtual Reality film series, before participating in a workshop and discussion on the SDGs.

IMG_-f30lht.jpgParticipants vote in the MY World 2030 Survey at the exhibition 

At the interactive exhibition, Summer School participants voted in the MY World 2030 Survey, the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment’s special MY World 2030 Empower Women Thematic Survey and wrote their commitment to the SDGs on the blackboard. After experiencing the human stories behind today’s pressing challenges through the UN Virtual Reality film series, students were able to converse live with internally displaced people (IDPs) inside the Harsham camp on the northern edge of Erbil, Iraq, through the UN Portal. Harsham is a camp that hosts more than 1500 internally displaced Iraqi families who fled Mosul and its surrounding villages to escape Islamist militant attacks.

IMG_-86o9x7.jpgStudents experience the UN Virtual Reality film series

IMG-20160829-WA0025.jpgFaculty and students inside the UN Portal speaking live with IDPs in Harsham, Iraq

Later, students and professors engaged in a SDGs workshop collaboratively held by the UN SDG Action Campaign, the UN Department for Public Information (DPI), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Team, and the UNDP Sustainable Development Team.

IMG_5pq75w.jpgAlice Chen, UN SDG Action Campaign, presenting on how to harness technology and data for SDGs implementation 

Antje Watermann, UN DPI, provided an overview of the SDGs framework and communication strategies for advancing them. In particular, she highlighted the interconnected, universal, inclusive and transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda.

The UNDP Gender Team’s Henny Ngu spoke on utilizing technology to achieve gender equality. Sustainable Development Goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, tasks UNDP to contribute to the eradication of poverty and the significant reduction of gender inequalities by empowering women and promoting and protecting their rights.

Alice Chen, UN SDG Action Campaign, presented on how students and scholars can get involved in SDGs implementation and advocacy, especially by drawing upon technology and data. For instance, the Campaign’s MY World 2030 Survey is a tool for localizing, monitoring and promoting accountability of the new agenda through 2030. In addition, exhibitions and data playgrounds have provided interactive displays of citizen-generated data and storytelling initiatives on the SDGs, as well as videos and new media content on the SDGs worldwide. Furthermore, United Nations Virtual Reality amplifies the voices of the most vulnerable in danger of being left behind, allowing them to narrate their story from their own perspective and in their own words.

UNDP Sustainable Development Team’s Yuqiong Zhou concluded the workshop by outlining UNDP’s work on integrating the SDGs and the ways they will programmatically support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

IMG-20160829-WA0027.jpgAntje Watermann, UN DPI, discussing with students and faculty how academia can contribute to SDGs implementation

The presentations were followed by enthusiastic discussion by student and faculty. The audience was particularly interested on how the indicators would be measured, the expectation from different Member States in terms of how they would work towards achieving the SDGs, and most importantly, what scholars can do to contribute to the realization of the goals by 2030!


Create your own Humans of MY World Project!

Sans titre

The UN SDG Action Campaign is committed to leveraging new technologies to involve the
world’s most vulnerable into the decision making process, and to tell their stories. Since 2014, the Humans of MY World Series has partnered with individuals, UN Agencies and NGOs to capture the sentiment of individuals around the world, especially focusing on the most vulnerable. This series is shared in mini campaigns on Facebook, and the content is also integrated into our portfolio and exhibited alongside MY World Data throughout the world.

This guide will teach you how to collect your own Humans of MY World interviews and submit them to be featured on our page:

This Draft Toolkit includes information on:

  • The SDGs and MY World 2030
  • The Humans of MY World photo-narrative series
  • How to conduct the best interviews
  • How to take the perfect HOMY photo
  • How to submit the series and contact us

Click here to download the toolkit!

For more information about the Humans of MY World project, to get involved, or if you would like more customized content, please contact us at:

Building Bridges the Road to Nairobi launches on International Youth Day

Road to nairobi-logo (2)The Building Bridges Foundation’s Road to Nairobi 2016 project kicked off on International Youth Day, 12 August 2016, in Johannesburg and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Building Bridges Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in the Netherlands. The mission is to foster youth-led solutions at the grassroots level in order to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In their first project last year, the Foundation collected the opinions and priorities from young people by bike riding from Amsterdam to Cape Town in an effort to include youth voices in the development of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

In this second phase, the Road to Nairobi 2016a team of Dutch and South African youth will travel by bus from Johannesburg to Nairobi, meeting 80 inspirational and innovative youth entrepreneurs from all industries and walks of life in eight countries. In each country, these real life case studies of the challenges youth entrepreneurs face will be presented to government officials, CEOs, foreign ambassadors, representatives of the UN and the media during a youth summit in the capital. The project co-creates solutions that promote youth employment and aims to inspire African and global leaders by showcasing how young people are making a difference, and how their work can be further promoted to help achieve the SDGs by 2030. The results will be presented at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in Nairobi in December.

Building Bridges bus, which will carry the team and youth entrepreneurs to the Second High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC in Nairobi

“Young people often have the best out of the box solutions for difficult problems. So if we want a better life for unemployed young Africans, who else to ask then young African entrepreneurs.” said Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. She continued, “they show that starting your own business empowers and creates jobs and income. The Road to Nairobi brings these smart youngsters together with politicians and business leaders who are eager for innovative and smart solutions. To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, young people are key.” Minister Ploumen supports the project in her role as co-chair of the GPEDC.

Through a series of multi-stakeholder events at the local and national levels, the project will help facilitate the co-creation of solutions and actions to promote youth employment in their respective countries. “We believe that only by working together with all stakeholders, can we achieve a more just, sustainable and equal world by 2030,” says Jilt van Schayik, co-founder of the Building Bridges Foundation. “Youth are traditionally seen as a problem, but we believe they are the solution. There are many youth entrepreneurs with innovative businesses solutions to overcome local challenges. We need to listen to their ideas, and help them grow to scale to create real impact for people on the ground.”

The Project was launched in South Africa in the Diepsloot Township jointly with the Building Bridges Team and the Dutch Embassy in South Africa. Focus on youth entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas, the launch included a panel discussion, about the enabling factors for innovative entrepreneurship and the necessary steps that will allow South African entrepreneurs to benefit from increased globalization.

IMG_2163The Road to Nairobi launch in Johannesburg with the Building Bridges team and the Dutch Ambassador in South Africa, H.E. Marisa Gerards

In addition to the project’s launch in South Africa, the project was ceremoniously launched at the SDGs exhibition in the United Nations Visitors Lobby by H.E. Mr. Karel van Oosterom, the Netherlands Permanent Representative to the UN and the UN SDG Action Campaign. The Ambassador toured the exhibition, seeing the enormous influence the first phase of Building Bridges had in collecting people’s voices to support the development of the SDGs. HE van Oosterom then viewed the current platforms for action, taking the MY World 2030 Survey reading the Humans if MY World stories and experiencing UN Virtual Reality. The visit concluded with a live video chat with the Building Bridges Team in South Africa, providing words of encouragement for their journey to foster youth employment on the African continent.

IMG_0051.jpgThe Road to Nairobi launch at the UN HQ with the Netherlands Permanent Representative to the UN, H.E. Karel van Oosterom

The Ambassador, his son as well as a team from the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the UN and the SDG Action Campaign wrote their good wishes to the Building Bridges Team on the large sized exhibition blackboard. In a statement on the occasion of the virtual launch in New York the Ambassador said, “youth must have a central role in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. We hope projects like this inspire other youth to step up and help realize the Sustainable Development Goals.”

IMG_20160812_121005Ambassador Karel van Oosterom’s good wishes to Jilt van Schayik, co-founder of the Building Bridges Foundation, and part of the Road to Nairobi team

Kristin Gutekunst, UN SDG Action Campaign Project Manager, remarked, “we are excited to be partnering with the Building Bridges Foundation and the Government of the Netherlands to continue SDG momentum in this new phase of the Building Bridges project. Young people are integral to making the SDGs a reality for all by 2030. The MY World 2015 Survey identified Better job opportunities as one of the main priorities for youth globally. Advancing youth entrepreneurship through this project and bringing people’s voices to the United Nations will support us in achieving the SDGs.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 17.29.40The Road to Nairobi’s route across 8 countries

The Building Bridges team operates with the idea there is a gap between between local and international policymakers and the challenges faced by young people at the grassroots level. Simultaneously in New York, Building Bridges Representative and UN SDG Action Campaign Youth Advocate Jonas Lossau introduced the Road to Nairobi 2016 project and how it contributes to ‘17 SDGs in Action’ at the UN Headquarters on International Youth Day. Samantha Ndiwalana, a Building Bridges Project Manager, added, “the project is a way for young people to get together, to learn from each other, to share their solutions and to inspire each other. It is time for real action, not empty words.”

To create real changes, the Building Bridges team together with the most inspiring youth entrepreneurs will present their data and suggest solutions at the Second High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC in Nairobi.


Peoples’ Voices from around the world celebrated in SDGs Exhibition in UN Visitors Lobby

Since its launch on the 18th of July, the SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters has drawn excited crowds of visitors and high-level delegations from around the world.

IMG_20160808_115212.jpgH.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway, visits the SDGs exhibition 

During the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), H.E. Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway and co-chair of the United Nations Secretary-General’s SDG Advocacy Group, was one of the first to visit the exhibition together with the Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, Ambassador Geir O. Pedersen. Both expressed their commitment to making the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a reality for all on the exhibitions large size blackboard. H.E. Erna Solberg wrote that she will continue to advocate for “Quality Education for All”, while H.E. Geir O. Pedersen committed to “Take Action against Inequality”.

IMG_20160718_110241.jpgH.E. Geir O. Pedersen, Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, writing his commitment to the SDGs on exhibition blackboard 

The HLPF is central platform of the United Nations for the follow-up and review of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. It provided political leadership, guidance and recommendations on the 2030 Agenda’s implementation and follow-up; keep track of progress of the SDGs; spur coherent policies informed by evidence, science and country experiences; as well as addressing new and emerging issues. In addition to visiting the SDGs exhibition, H.E. Erna Solberg delivered the opening key-note speech at the start of the Ministerial Segment of the HLPF on 18 July and presented Norway’s voluntary national reviews on its progress of delivering the Sustainable Development Goals on the 19th.

IMG_20160804_171540.jpgJCI members at the exhibition’s selfie station

Taking up the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s challenge that “youth should be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national and global levels,” members of Junior Chamber International’s (JCI) visited the SDGs exhibition during the JCI Annual Global Partnership Summit. Held July 25 to 28 in New York City, the summit offered international leaders and JCI members the chance to visit the exhibition and experience its interactive selfie stations, take surveysand engage with the important challenges and opportunities that the SDGs present to youth globally.

IMG_20160729_111157 (1).jpgYoung students read the stories of Humans of MY World (

Moreover, groups of national and international students have been particularly drawn to the exhibition’s touch screens hosting the MY World 2030 Survey (, the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment’s special MY World 2030 Empower Women Thematic Survey ( and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Impossible Choices humanitarian challenge (

IMG_20160808_115129.jpgVisitor taking the MY World 2030 Survey on exhibition touchscreen 

The UN Virtual Reality film series, which allows visitors to immersively experience the life of some of the world’s most vulnerable using high-tech 3D VR headsets has been a major visitor attraction since the opening of the exhibition. Visitors have been touched by the human stories of the Syrian refugee crisis, the Ebola outbreak in Liberia and the effects of conflict in the Gaza Strip in the VR films Clouds Over Sidra, Waves of Grace and My Mother’s Wing (

IMG_20160729_104940 (1).jpgStudents watch United Nations Virtual Reality at exhibition 

Watching the movies and experiencing global issues up close has had a profound effect on visitors, many of whom have tried virtual reality technology for the first time. Especially touched was a group of students from LaGuardia Community College, NYC, who had scheduled a special visit to the virtual reality station. After visiting the exhibition with around 30 students the teacher wrote to the SDG Action Campaign to describe what a strong tool for the creation of empathy UNVR had been for the students:

“I just want to thank you for making the extra headsets available for my students last Friday. They were very impressed with the films. My students recently wrote an essay about whether or not the United States should take in Syrian refugees. Most of my students (who are all immigrants) said no, we shouldn’t let them in because there could be dangerous terrorists among them. One student stayed after class and argued with me about this, insisting that all Syrians are terrorists. After this particular student saw your film and experienced what it was like to be in a refugee camp, he told me he wants to rewrite his essay. We have been reading about refugee situations all during the term, we’ve seen film clips from the news, and we’ve watched Hotel Rwanda, and still most students wanted to keep refugees out. Your film changed that for some of them, which is very powerful. So thank you!”

The interactive SDGs exhibition will continue to be open until 4 September 2016.


The exhibition is open to the general public during official UN visiting hours:

  • Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • All visitors must exit the building by 5:30pm.
  • Virtual Reality screenings at the exhibition: Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.

The entrance is at 46th Street and 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Visitors without an official UN Pass will have to first obtain a guest pass at the screening station on 46th and 1st across the street from the UN. Be sure to bring a photo ID.

If your delegation or mission would like to schedule a special exhibition tour, please kindly contact Kristin Gutekunst at (9143303774).


MY World 2030 launches next phase


Did you know, the MY World Survey is comprised of much more than one simple question now?

On July 18, 2016, the UN SDG Action Campaign, in partnership with UNDP, ODI and Global Pulse, launched the next phase of MY World in the UNHQ. Partners from multiple sectors joined in the discussion, reporting on methodologies and strategies. They also presented lessons learnt and preliminary results from early pilot testing and representative studies.

See what our speakers and panelist have said during the MY World 2030 Launch!

  • MY World is an opportunity to hear from voices across the spectrum, voices of the people who really shifted this agenda” – Rosemary Kalapurakal, Lead Advisor, 2030 Agenda Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • We really need to work together to make sure that the spirit of the MY World campaign lives” – Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director for the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP
  • MY World 2030 is about monitoring progress, satisfaction and awareness” – Mitchell Toomey, Global Director, UN SDG Action Campaign
  • The main focus of a questionnaire has got to be on the individual respondent” – Hayk Gyuzalyan, Methods Director, TNS Opinion
  • Partnership is not about engaging varying entities, but also engaging all individuals in ensuring we leave no one behind” – Muhsin Syihab, from Indonesia
  • Local actions must be taken to make impact, particular by youth” – Maria Fernando Olvera, Director of Injuve
  • We must continue unfinished business of MDGs through implementation of SDGs” – Princess Orelope-Adefulire, from Nigeria


The UN MY World 2015 survey (2013-2015) showed that it is both possible and useful to bring peoples’ voices directly into policy making at a global level.  MY World was designed to bring the voices of individual people into the political deliberaCapture d’écran 2016-08-02 à 15.10.44tions on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has been highly successful in doing so. Almost ten million people have responded to the survey, and the results have fed into every part of the political process for creating the new goals.  MY World has been cited as part of the High Level Panel deliberations, the Open Working Group discussions, the PGA consultations and the Independent Expert Group on Data. The SG, DSG, Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Secretary General Youth Envoy and chair of the UNDG regularly reference the MY World data.

MY World 2030 will have two clear areas to contribute to, enabled through four different channels.

Main goals of MY World 2030:

  1. Contribute to efforts to report back on progress. The aim here will be to collect globally comparable (both at scale and nationally representative) data to monitor how people feel their lives are changing. This data could feed into official monitoring efforts both locally and globally and contribute to an enhanced mechanism for the effective monitoring and implementation of the goals.
  2. Mobilise and build dialogue between decision makers such as parliamentarians, local governments, mayors and citizens, in particular young people in order to contribute a “people’s perspective” on how to implement the new agenda at different levels and establish accountability mechanisms.  This data and citizen voice will be focused at the community; municipal and provincial level and provide a rich source of information for national decision makers. It is envisaged that this dialogue will be aggregated at national, regional and global levels. The demand for this has been demonstrated by the MY Municipality initiative in Macedonia and the continued expansion of U Report globally.


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