Twenty young Africans whose enterprises offer innovative solutions that foster climate change adaptation and resilience each received $100,000 awards for winning the 2022-2023 African Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (#YouthAdapt Challenge). The awards ceremony took place on November 10 at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. IRIBA Water Group Ltd is among 20 African youth-led enterprises that have won grant funding of up to $100,000. The Rwandan social enterprise called Iriba Clean Water Delivery Ltd offers authentic innovative solutions to water scarcity in communities, institutions, homes, and individuals. The firm does this by extracting it from natural sources such as lakes and springs, treating it using an ultraviolet water purifier; and then supplying treated water to households at an affordable cost using bicycles, piping systems, and through water collection centers or kiosks. The firm installs solar-powered pumps in hard-to-reach valleys, a package which is designed for lower-income rural communities with no access to safe water for drinking and home uses. Yvette Ishimwe, the founder and CEO, studied Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in high school and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in logistics and operations at Southern New Hampshire University. Her dream was to become a businesswoman. She described the award as a life-changing opportunity. “Winning this Award is a life-changing opportunity. It will enable us to provide more drinking water for people and to create more jobs,” Ishimwe said. Ishimwe’s social enterprise enhanced access to clean water to more than 73,000 people across the country through water plants, and water ATMs on streets and in schools. In 2017, Ishimwe was one of the two lucky winners from Rwanda selected to receive the ‘Queen’s Young Leaders’ award at Buckingham Palace, London. “We are committed to supplying clean drinking water in schools, markets, and urban communities at an affordable price through Tap and Drink Innovation. We install eco-friendly water ATMs and kiosks for public drinking water points in urban and peri-urban low-earning communities,” Ishimwe said. The Tap and Drink innovation installs eco-friendly water ATMs and kiosks for public drinking water points in urban and peri-urban low-earning communities to facilitate low-income earners to access affordable safe drinking water easily. Consumers use reusable water bottles and cups to avoid disposable plastic bottles and sachets. Through a special ‘lease-to-own model’, the firm makes it possible and very easy for schools to have safe drinking water for their students and teachers. It installs customized water purification machines to fit each school’s needs and resources. With this model, all students and teachers are assured reliable, safe and clean drinking water at all times. Ishimwe got a prize of $20,000 in the inaugural women’s entrepreneurship competition, 2X Invest2Impact in 2019 during the Global Gender Summit 2019. The challenge brought together women entrepreneurs from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. $2 million to African youth-led businesses The #YouthAdapt Challenge is jointly organized by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) and the UN Climate Investment Funds (CIF) to boost sustainable job creation through support for entrepreneurship and youth-led innovation in climate change adaptation and resilience across Africa. In total, $2 million in prizes were awarded at the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to African youth-led businesses. In addition to the grant, each winner benefits from a 12-month accelerator programme to help them grow their businesses, deepen their impact and create decent jobs. The annual competition and awards programme for youth-led enterprises—which is 50 per cent women-led—is jointly organized by the Global Center on Adaptation, the African Development Bank and Climate Investment Funds (CIF). The programme is part of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program YouthADAPT flagship pillar. It boosts sustainable job creation by supporting entrepreneurship and youth-led innovations in climate change adaptation and resilience across Africa. The competition invites young entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in Africa to submit innovative solutions and business ideas that can drive climate change adaptation and resilience. The AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, praised the winners, half of whom are women, for providing innovative solutions to climate adaptation and resilience in agriculture, infrastructure, waste management, and other sectors. According to Adesina, Africa’s needs cannot be ignored. “The youth must be at the center of everything we are doing about climate change. No young person is too young to engage in climate dialogue. Our young people must be part of the solution. They are creative, dynamic, and engaging. They are futuristic and must be part of the solution for climate adaptation in Africa,” he said. “We want the youth to speak for Africa and develop solutions for the continent. For this initiative last year, we supported 10 youth-owned and youth-led businesses in Africa with $1 million. This year, we are supporting 20 businesses with $2 million. So, we can expect that next year, we will double our efforts to $4 million dollars. That’s the way it’s going to go for Africa.” Adesina observed that 80 per cent of the winners’ businesses were in agriculture. He said: “Agriculture is the future of Africa. As you know, that has been my gospel for many decades. The lowest bar is for Africa to feed itself. The high bar is for Africa to feed the world. Agriculture is a business. I encourage our young people to do three things: Create, Adapt and Prosper. CAP for short.” Professor Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Center on Adaptation, spoke about the impact of the award on one of last year’s winners, Juveline Ngum Ngwa from Bamenda in Cameroon who was able to scale up her business, Bleglee Waste Management. As a result of last year’s grant, she was able to open a second waste sorting factory and has developed further software for her drones which identify garbage that is blocking drainage systems. “Adaptation is good business. But it needs to be at scale. And that is exactly what the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program – the AAAP – does. The AAAP is mobilising $25 billion over five years to scale up and accelerate climate adaptation actions across Africa. And one of its four pillars is the YouthADAPT flagship programme,” Verkooijen said. The winning enterprises of the Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge 2022 come from all parts of the continent. Half are female-led enterprises that are scaling innovations in critical social and economic sectors affected by climate change. These include agriculture, waste management, water resources, and sanitation, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. The 2022 winners of the African Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge are Flushh from Namibia, Green Impact Technologies from Malawi, AgriTech Analytics from Kenya, Baramoda from Egypt, Cassavita from Cameroon, Ecobarter from Nigeria, Farmer Lifeline Technologies from Kenya, Grocircular Agro Services from Nigeria and IRIBA Water Group Ltd from Rwanda. Others are Mpatsa Engineering Company Limited (formerly Sustainable Water Irrigation and Farming Technologies) from Malawi,Viva Organica from Botswana, Voltx for Engineering & Industries from Egypt, West African Feeds from Ghana, Kisumeo Organics Limited from Kenya, Agroexpert farming from Senegal, Eurl Algerienne Des Industries Technologiques from Algeria, Lono from Côte d’Ivoire ,Pazelgreen Technologies from Nigeria, Akatale On Cloud from Uganda,Multi-Tech Sustainable Solutions (MTTS) from Cameroon. Programme organisers received 3,000 applications for this year’s competition. The top 50 were shortlisted to pitch their innovations before a jury and 20 were top winners.