Youth Entrepreneurs take center stage with Road to Nairobi 2016 Project at GPEDC

At the end of November, a diverse group of stakeholders met in Nairobi, Kenya, to discuss critical issues at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation’s second High Level Meeting. Building upon months of grass roots organization in the lead up, Building Bridges Foundation, with partners UN SDG Action Campaign and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ensured the ideas and opinions of young people had a special role at the conference.

For young people, by young people, the project highlighted the entrepreneurial solutions of 80 young entrepreneurs in eight countries. Their stories were shared on the Humans of MY World blog, in blog posts, in exhibitions, and in a final report that was presented to important delegates at the HLM2.

The project, Road to Nairobi 2016 has empowered young entrepreneurs across Eastern and Southern Africa to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas for local solutions to tackling the SDGs. The Building Bridges team departed South Africa in August with the mission of revealing the challenges and priorities of young entrepreneurs in eight countries in Eastern and Southern Africa. The team named a national Building Bridges Ambassador in each country who supported the local coordination on the ground. This included an open call for submissions of ongoing business solutions to addressing the SDGs in both rural and urban settings. The best were chosen to first compete to become the national winner in their country, and then were flown to Nairobi to compete in the global competition. The journey also included national youth forums with policy makers to discuss the results, where MY World 2015 results helped frame the discussions.

The youth entrepreneur’s stories were profiled on the Humans of MY World photo-narrative blog along with an identification of their most important SDG. Banners were printed for an exhibition at the conference, which also included UNVR demonstrations, selfie booths, Humans of MY World voting, previews of the publications created to support the project, the actual bus which was driven across the continent, and the ability to interact with the young people involved in the project.

Two side events were organized around the Building Bridges project. Firstly, the team presented the preliminary findings of an in-depth evaluation report of the project to Ms. Liliane Ploumen, co-Chair of the GPEDC and Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, who stressed the need to include young people in the decision making process:  “Too often we talk about young people without having them in the room.”

Ms. Sicily Kariuki, the Cabinet Secretary for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs of the Republic of Kenya stated “We must invest in youth so that they attain skills and nurture a culture of entrepreneurship.”

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The team also presented a draft of their report of the Humans of MY World – the storytelling project done in collaboration with the SDG Action Campaign. Mr. Seing Falu Njie, Regional Director for Africa, reinforced the UN SDG Action Campaign’s commitment to facilitating and ensuring people around the world have a means to voice their opinion through their diversity of projects, such as MY World 2030 and partnerships.

The second event presented the opportunity for 3 of the young Building Bridges ambassadors and others from the region to compete in the “Get In the Ring Competition,” occurring in Africa for the first time. The event mimics a boxing match, placing two competitors in the ring for lightning elimination pitch rounds until one is crowned champion. Unfortunately, the Building Bridges representatives didn’t get the gold this time, but it was a revealing lesson about capacity building with young entrepreneurs from the region for the next project.

The final report about the project will be released at the Global Festival of Ideas in March, 2017.

 

Immersive exhibition brings delegates closer than ever to refugees, displaced, and migrants during UNGA

The 71st regular session of the United Nations General Assembly met this past September, which also coincided with the High Level Meeting on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. In an effort to raise the voices are those most in danger of being left behind, the UN SDG Action Campaign brought two immersive technology experiences to the UN Secretariat Building, highlighting some of the most complex global challenges the UN faces. The particular focus on refugees, displaced people, and migrants allowed diplomats direct access and a deeper understanding of their everyday realities.

Above: Haider al Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq speaking to Waleed, a young boy displaced from Mosul by violence now living in the Harsham IDP Camp. Below: Ewan MacGregor, Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF poses with Mirna, young girl he met on his last visit to the Camp in Erbil.

The United Nations Virtual Reality film series and Portals immersive experiences enables people to access locations and situations they would otherwise never experience, providing context for some of the most complex issues the UN is striving to mitigate. By doing so, the Campaign hopes it will help transform understanding of critical global issues that must be addressed in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals into a medium that is instantly empathetic and universally relatable.

Throughout the course of the week, Delegates were able to watch several films on the newly launched UNVR app (available at www.UNVR.org) about the everyday realities of refugees. Filmed in the Zaatari Camp in Jordan, Clouds Over Sidra recounts the new normal for a young girl from Syria, and Born Into Exile by UNFPA highlights the importance of providing safe births for mothers, revealing the amazing statistic that zero mothers have been lost at the camp. Beyond the Lake recounts the harrowing experience of a woman escaping violence in Burundi who is able to start a new life in the DRC through the support of UN Women safe spaces. UNOCHA also previewed Home, a new film documenting the UN Secretary-General’s humanitarian tour, highlighting the plight of refugees living in Lebanon, Syria and the DRC.

Delegates further had the opportunity to have full-body conversations with individuals living these realities, in real time, through the UN Portal, curated by the CampaignShared_Studios, and Bridges of Understanding. It is part of an international project with countless locations around the world by Shared_Studios. The UN Portal connected to the Harsham IDP Camp in Erbil, curated by UNICEF  Iraq, allowing delegates to speak to young Iraqis displaced by fighting in Mosul. It also connected to a refugee resettlement home outside of Berlin, where delegates could speak to people from Chad, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria in varying stages of asylum seeking, and to young people at the University of Kabul in Afghanistan with Turquoise Mountain Institute. In the afternoons, the UN Portal connected to Mexico City with an NGO called Proyecto Habesha that is supporting Syrian refugees in coordinates higher education degrees in Mexico.

This exhibition was made possible through the political support of the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Germany, the Government of Iraq, and the UN Department of Information.

The Campaign also shared the space with UNICEF’s Time Machine, an installation that  translating childhood memories from data into unique sound – giving visitors and delegates attending the UNGA an opportunity to understand the data on children currently available and areas that fall short.

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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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).

Building Bridges arrives in Cape Town, South Africa!

Jilt & Teun finish on Signal Hill in Cape Town
Jilt & Teun finish their 17,000 km cycling tour on Signal Hill in Cape Town

Blog by Kristin Gutekunst. Originally posted on UN Women’s Website.

After thousands of kilometres of dirt roads, small mountain paths, jungle trails and deserts, through 20 countries on two continents, UN Youth Delegate Jilt Van Schayik and Teun Meulepas arrived to Cape Town, South Africa! Throughout this six-month cycling odyssey from Amsterdam to Cape Town, aimed at hearing what people – and youth in particular – have to say about the development of the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through MY World, Humans of MY World, HeforShe Campaign, and Building Bridges Youth consultations. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille attended a ceremony to mark the end of their journey on 12 August, International Youth Day.

Jilt Van Schayik, Kristin Gutekunst & Teun Meulepas lead Cape Town's Women's Humanities Walk during South African National Women's Day. 
Jilt Van Schayik, Kristin Gutekunst & Teun Meulepas lead Cape Town’s Women’s Humanities Walk during South African National Women’s Day.
Armed only with the gear that fit on their bicycles, a computer and a camera, they worked with young ambassadors in each country to organize forums and consultations discussing gender issues as well as results from the MY World Survey so as to understand the specific development priorities of young people in each country. They also visited community initiatives, and involved people they met along the way from rural and urban settings through a photo series called Humans of MY World. They accomplished the trip with very modest means, relying on the kindness of strangers and many times sleeping in the homes of those they met along the way.

Continue reading “Building Bridges arrives in Cape Town, South Africa!”

Building Bridges kicked off! From Amsterdam to Cape Town #BB2015UN

bb2Building Bridges kicked off in The Netherlands! From now until August, Jilt van Schayik (UN Youth Representative for The Netherlands) and Teun Meulepas will be cycling from Amsterdam to Cape Town. During this six month bike tour, they will cross 20 countries and over 15,000km (over 9,000 miles) to hear stories and collect MY World votes.

From the vast deserts of the Sahara to the central highlands of Namibia, from rural communities to crowded metropolises, and everywhere in between, Jilt & Teun want to connect with young people on the ground, share stories and inspire one another to make changes for the world we want. The duo have teamed up with youth representatives from every country who will be organizing events around their arrival to spread the word about MY World as the voice of the public to the UN. They will take photographs for Humans of MY World, gather MY World votes, and organize forums with young people. They will try to answer the question: “How do young people at the grassroots level envision the world in 2030?” ‪

2015 is an important time to activate the voices of the public to ensure that the sustainable development goals reflect the people’s needs and interests. As we look at the outcomes of the Millennium Development Goals, which come to a close on December 31, 2015, will the public feel that their governments made great strides in areas such as gender equality, sanitation, and the environment? What are the areas of continued need? These questions can only be answered by asking the people and sharing their votes and their voices.

Connect with Building Bridges

These young men have long road ahead of them! Follow their adventure and show your support between now an August. Connect on Twitter with #bb2015UN and on Facebook at Humans of MY World & Building Bridges!

Building Bridges & MY World was featured on Dutch television!