By Roy Mabasa
Five groups from more than 100 young Filipino innovators and mentors were chosen to represent the Philippines in the 2020 Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this summer.
This was announced by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) following the conclusion of the 2019 Youth Social Innovation Lab held on November 18 to 19 at the Benilde Hub of Innovation for Inclusion (HiFi) in Manila.
Touted as the largest youth social entrepreneurship movement in the region, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. It was co-created in 2017 by the UNDP and Citi Foundation.
The five innovator-groups selected to represent the country in Malaysia are the following: AccesiWheels (first place), a ride-hailing mobile application designed for persons with disabilities by persons with disabilities; #Ethnicoco (second place), an enterprise driven to innovate high value-added products from devalued coconut agriculture wastes produced by indigenous communities; Transkonek (third place), an online platform linking transgenders to job opportunities and other support services; Project Ka-sama (fourth place), a virtual learning environment offering mental health and counseling classes to people with chronic medical conditions; and Greenhows (fifth place), a co-creation lab that harnesses the ideas and potential of students, local artists, and people from displaced communities through stories and exhibitions, environmental campaigns, commerce, and capacity building.
In a statement, the UNDP explained that the participants, who come from different youth sectors all over the Philippines, were selected to come together to pitch and develop their ideas for socially inclusive sustainable enterprises.
Under the theme “Social Inclusion,” the two-day showcased the ideas of innovative Filipinos aged 15-30, including high school and university students, new graduates, youth affected by conflicts and/or disasters, LGBT+, differently-abled youth, and those from ethnic and religious minorities.
The teams had to pitch their ideas to a board of jurors to clinch a spot at the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April next year, where they will participate in a competition among fellow youth innovators across the Asia-Pacific region.
The initiative is part of the first-ever Philippine Startup Week organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT.)
“Across our work towards achieving sustainable development, the youth has always been seen as agents and accelerators of change, with much of their future at stake. In the Philippines, approximately 30% of its population is made up of young people. That’s 32 million Filipino youth who we see as an invaluable resource that can make significant contributions to development impact through leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship. We believe that we should harness that resource and keep them informed, inspired, and involved,” according to Enrico Gaveglia, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Philippines.