Network for Youth in Transition

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Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurs are taking the baton of sustainable development from community level solutions to globally replicable innovations. Sustainable Development Goals present a renewed opportunity for entrepreneurship to be viewed as an inclusive undertaking, given its multi-dimensional impact.

A young entrepreneur,  Augustin Ekka from Assam earmarked one such success story in Assam. In the absence of both capital and resources, Ekka, daughter of a tea plucker, started a handloom weaving centre employing several women from the community as teachers. The waving centre ended up as a profitable venture from the very first year. She continues to train women from Arunanchal Pradesh, Nagaland and beyond and the venture has expanded to produce ethnic outfits for large scale buyers.

In yet another mash-up of innovation and passion, two friends, Prateek Aggarwal and Raj Desai created a ‘WIFI Trash Bin’. The model incentivises people by giving free WIFI access code when garbage in dumped into the Bin. The duo travelled across a number of countries to research the best mechanism before bringing the idea home. At the core the idea presents behavioural shift in people and creates environmentally viable result.

Ranjan shifted to his hometown in Himachal after a five years stint in Delhi as a taxi driver. It was difficult at first for his family to come to terms with the sudden reduction in the family income. Ranjan went around the town looking for opportunities other then small-hold farming, there were none for an eighth fail, father of a three year old. The situation was quite drastic to say the least; he bought two jersey cows from his savings and made a shed for them, all by himself. He was rearing strange cows when everyone around him laughed at all the care the cows demanded. Ranjan was determined; he didn’t know a way out or a way back.  After a wait of two long months the two cows produced a total of 30 litres milk every single day. He sold it across a 10 km radius but this wasn’t it. He went on to produce organic cottage cheese to the tune of 20 kg everyday for local shops with an additional 50 litres milk from a latest acquisition of a few more cows. Ranjan created a dairy farming model that tripled his family income and an environment friendly waste disposal system. Many village boys later replicated the model with success and Ranjan guided them through the process.  

Born and brought up in the gorgeous valleys of Ladakh, Thinlas Chorol, is the only Ladakhi woman to be professionally trained in the field of Mountaineering. Thinlas studied in SEMCOL, The Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh and later worked as a guide with Around Ladakh with Students (ALS). Thinlas has been on several mountaineering and expedition trips in groups and otherwise. Powered by her intuitive connection with mountains and a passion for breaking stereotypes she founded Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company. The idea was to attract women to take up mountaineering and allied studies to earn a living and also create an experiential platform for beginners in the field of mountaineering. 

Rustam Sen Gupta graduated from INSEAD with a burning desire to do something different and work for developing those less fortunate than himself. After quitting his finance job in September 2009, Russ started working with NGOs, manufacturers and villagers to design and develop BOOND Engineering & Development Pvt. Ltd. It is a Social Enterprise founded in 2010 promoting
alternative energy in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi NCR and other northern states of India.
He is trying to reach the remotest and most difficult geographies to not just provide energy access, but also embed solutions to various inter connected social issues. His major focus is to provide appropriate & customized solar solutions across the spectrum of various communities, sectors and geographies. 

The world is brimming with stories of such young entrepreneurs leading to tremendous social impact with innovation as the nucleus. Innovation and entrepreneurship form a deep knitted mesh to accelerate sustainable development, social inclusion, gender equality, alleviate poverty, end violence and beyond.

In view of the manifold impact of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, UN Habitat has launched a Biennial Award to recognize such stories at a global level. The award intended to recognize, honour and promote young generation of leaders who are in a unique position to leverage the power of invention to establish businesses which would contribute to solving social and environmental problems. 

Culturally innovative proposals and projects which promote local culture in the concept, design and operation of the project will also be considered for the Award. “This initiative aims to attract, support and inspire some of the most innovative, high-impact young innovators and entrepreneurs in a number of countries in Africa and Asia,” said Oyebanji Oyeyinka from UN-Habitat.

Encouraging youth talent

The aim of the Award is to acknowledge and recognize initiatives which will create positive impact socially, economically and environmentally. The initiative should act as catalyst towards the promotion of sustainable cities and towns and encourage talent needed for future urban development measured by creation of youth employment, poverty alleviation and ensuring ecological safety. This Award will be granted to outstanding inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs from all corners of the globe – particularly those from developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America

The 5 categories span the breadth of the Award and are judged by the steering Committee and panel of expert judges in their field. Awards will be given in the following categories:

1.Youth Leadership

  1. Green inventions and Innovations
  2. Urban Ecological Safety
  3. Youth Entrepreneurship
  4. Social and cultural innovations

The total amount of the prize pool is USD 200,000 and the individual cash grant will be USD 20,000 to be given to two winners in each category.

Bottom up transformation

Citation will also be given to institutions and mentors who have been instrumental in innovators’ achievements. The scheme is comprehensive mechanism which touches all walks of life and is geared to bringing serious and meaningful changes to society.

It is geared to transforming society bottom up. The deadline for receipt of entries is 31 August 2015.

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