At least 100 young leaders and innovators from sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Canada are gathered at a young innovators meeting in Bugesera District to share experience, best practices and accomplishments by showcasing their social transforming innovations.
The three-day event brings together youth between the ages of 18 and 29 who have established businesses that solve a social problem in their community.
They are from 10 countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Jordan, Lebanon, Ghana and Canada.
The lessons learnt from each other are expected continue to generate solutions to community challenges, according to Janet Longmore, founder and chief executive of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), the organiser of the event.
“We are celebrating the talent and social innovation skills by youth. They designed social enterprises that are in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that can produce change to transform community,” she said.
Longmore said although the youth have better social innovations and enterprises, there are still challenges they face such as lack of funds.
“Banks should listen to the youth with social innovations so that they implement them easily,” she said.
Longmore commended the Government for supporting youth-inclusion.
“We need great partnership to invest in youth innovations. Digital transformation need inclusion of youth and having faith in their capacity,” she said.
The Minister for Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana, who delivered his message via video recording because he was outside the country, said the youth should create opportunities for social innovations to shape the future.
“Youth have to pave the way to engage in sustainable development agenda, contribute solutions to social challenges, share ideas and network to create any opportunity. Africa has so many opportunities that can solve problems and youth’s ideas will have social impact,” he said.
Nsengimana said the Government and development partners are ready to provide resources to the youth to exploit the opportunities.
Sewalegn Magnmet, one of the young innovators from Ethiopia, designed portable solar water pumping system.
He said the pump that is used in areas not yet connected to electricity has capacity to pump water up to 22 meters high.
Magnmet seeks to link the innovation to micro-finance institutions to be scaled up and marketed.
Arian Umuringa, a Rwandan social innovator, started a social enterprise that makes solar-powered products for rural and peri-urban population in order to solve social challenge of using kerosene lamps in Rwanda.
“We make solar mobile chargers, solar powered lanterns and solar bags. I have already connected 50 households with solar lanterns. One lantern costing Rwf8,000 is charged for about four hours and lights for about eight hours. However, customers are yet to trust us,” she said.
Over the past six months, DOT has supported young innovators to design, prototype, and test their social enterprise in 25 countries as development innovators and catalysts.
It works with growing network of 6,000 youth who have created opportunities for one million people in communities.