27 Nov Canadian volunteers collaborate globally to help young entrepreneurs launch their businesses
Entrepreneurship allows youth to discover their own solutions to sustainable development and help create a better future for all. That’s why EQWIP HUBs launched the Youth Innovation Fund in May 2017. It’s a unique approach to create sustainable youth livelihoods globally and Canadian volunteers have been critical to the design, development, and implementation along the way.
With the Youth Innovation Fund being a new initiative launching across 6 countries simultaneously, it was realized early on that collaboration would be the key to its success. Canadian volunteers from EQWIP HUBs in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal, and Tanzania were brought together to form the Youth Innovation Fund Global Implementation Team. The team meets biweekly online to share learnings, identify challenges and brainstorm solutions cooperatively. By collaborating on the process, each representative gains valuable insights and resources that they can bring back to the country offices they are volunteering with. Lydia, a Youth Engagement Officer at EQWIP HUBs Tanzania, shares the benefits of being on the team.
“As a member of the Global Implementation Team, I love the chance to collaborate and hear from people working on the project in other countries. I am the representative for EQWIP HUBs in Mwanza, Tanzania and it has been great to take the information that we discuss in our bi-weekly calls to the team in Mwanza and subsequently apply it to our Youth Innovation Fund process and programming. As the leader of the mentorship program at our EQWIP HUBs, it has been especially helpful to make use of the global resources and ideas. It is even more rewarding to see firsthand, the impact of the Youth Innovation Fund on participants.”
What is the Youth Innovation Fund?
The Youth Innovation Fund offers graduates of the EQWIP HUBs entrepreneurship program the opportunity to launch their business ideas through access to seed grants, accelerator workshops and mentorship from business leaders in their communities.
Through a competitive application process, women and men aged 18 to 35 years, submit their business proposals to their country’s Youth Innovation Fund committee. The applications are then assessed based on the viability of their enterprise idea and criteria that ensure their business plans demonstrate innovation, scalability and the potential for positive social and environmental impact.
Read more about the launch of the Youth Innovation Fund on our blog – ‘EQWIP HUBs International Volunteers Collaborate to Change Lives with Young Entrepreneurs’
Get inspired by some of EQWIP HUBs’ passionate and innovative Youth Innovation Fund recipients
Meet Kely Erlita Hernández Silva & Fernanda Peña Neira – Youth Innovation Fund recipients from EQWIP HUBs Chiclayo, Peru!
Kely and Fernanda won the grant for their business proposal to start Kenfry, a 100% natural and nutritive vegetable drink made from organic produce. Both graduates of EQWIP HUBs Entrepreneurial training, they identified an emerging trend within their local food and drink market. “Consumers want to have access to healthy alternatives and we saw an opportunity in this rising trend and decided to launch a sustainable business that would benefit customers, society and nature all at once,” they explained.
Kenfry is committed to being environmentally-friendly by prioritizing sustainable processes in their business and partnering with like-minded growers.
Meet Imoro Alhassan, one of our EQWIP HUBs Accra, Ghana Youth Innovation Fund recipients!
Imoro won the grant for his business proposal to start Zana Farms. As a recent graduate of the EQWIP HUBs Entrepreneurial training, Imoro is utilizing his enhanced knowledge to establish an agribusiness of mixed farming including; cereals, vegetables and ruminates by December 2019.
Zana Farms will distribute its vegetables mainly through women’s network marketers. The business will also include an educational component; “Female nutritionists at health centres and boarding school matrons have partnered to provide advocacy services on the importance of our organic vegetables in the diet of nursing mothers, their children and the family.” As an addition to the business, Zana Farms will include several small farm holdings for women in the Karaga district to use to help address the poverty gap, particularly for widows.
Meet one of our EQWIP HUBs El Alto, Bolivia Youth Innovation Fund recipients – Jose Condori!
Jose won the seed grant for his environmentally and socially conscious notebook manufacturing business proposal. He enrolled in the EQWIP HUBs entrepreneurship training after being introduced to the program by one of his teachers. He remembers that the volunteer facilitators at the EQWIP HUBs “taught us as peers” and that the space opened opportunities for youth “from different backgrounds to come together, make friends and meet with mentors to build on our potential.”
Jose is dedicated to not only producing quality notebooks for El Alto but also to changing attitudes through messages and images about environmental sustainability and gender equality.
Check out one of our EQWIP HUBs Indonesia Youth Innovation Fund recipients – Dyah!
Dyah won the grant for her business proposal to start Your Big Size (YBZ). As a graduate of the EQWIP HUBs Entrepreneurial training, Dyah will utilize her enhanced knowledge to set-up her plus size clothing store. “YBZ puts a lot of effort into designing clothing specifically for plus size women. It is important in such a hot climate to pay special attention to the materials selected, and colors and patterns must be specially selected since some patterns can have a slimming effect while others can do the opposite.”
Meet Lela Kai, one of our EQWIP HUBs Tanzania, Zanzibar Youth Innovation Fund recipients!
Lela won the grant for her environmentally sustainable business proposal to collect and sell plastic bottles to the local Recycling organisation called ZASEA (Zanzibar Scraped & Environmental Association). The grant will allow her to buy additional tools and equipment to improve and facilitate her daily work. The skills and the financial understanding she developed from the EQWIP HUBs Entrepreneurial training will help her to overcome the common barriers to entry faced by many new business owners.
If you are an experiences Canadian looking to grow professionally and personally while making a difference, EQWIP HUBs has the international volunteer opportunity for you.
EQWIP HUBs is funded, in part, by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.