2023 WBG Youth Summit Pitch Competition: The Importance of Youth-Led Solutions to Drive Global Impact
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2023 WBG Youth Summit Pitch Competition: The Importance of Youth-Led Solutions to Drive Global Impact
Returning for its 10th edition, the World Bank Group Youth Summit aims to engage youth on the most pressing topics facing their generation, bringing together thousands of participants from around the world. The theme of the 2023 Summit, From the Ground Up: Local Solutions to Drive Global Impact, highlights development solutions that are generated locally, scaled up regionally, and elevated globally. This theme also reflects the World Bank Group's commitment to supporting local ownership, knowledge, and solutions as key to addressing global development challenges.
As part of the launch of the 2023 Pitch Competition – a flagship component of the Youth Summit – this live event will showcase how young people can address some of the world's most pressing challenges through local and grassroots solutions with the potential to make a global impact. Discussions will address how to leverage local knowledge and leadership among youth on these topics, and focus on three pillars of development around which the Pitch competition is organized:
- Fragility, conflict, and violence-affected locations.
- Climate change, including energy security and transition.
- Financial security through employment and skill development.
During this session, the panelists will provide details on who can participate, how to enter the competition and why to participate in the Youth Summit Competition.
The 2023 World Bank Group Youth Summit will be held both virtually and in person, in Washington DC, on May 25-26th, 2023. More details will be made available soon.
The importance of youth-led solutions to drive global impact. My name is Julie Ryan and I'm one of the co-leads for content on the Youth Summit Steering Committee this year, and we are very excited to be here live today to launch the 2023 Pitch competition. This is a flagship component of the World Bank's Annual Youth Summit. It showcases the most innovative development solutions coming from young people this year. Today we're going to have an information session from the pitch competition co-leads on the steering committee to learn how to apply what makes a great pitch, and the themes are for this year's pitch competition.
More than that, we're going to have a panel discussion full of experts and esteemed guests to understand why this year's pitch competition and its sub-themes of fragility, conflict and violence, climate change and energy and jobs and skills are all such important issues in this day and age, and how young people are at the forefront of local solutions to these salient issues.
Lastly, we're joined by a very special guest, Mr. Samuel Munzele Maimbo, the Chief of Staff for the World Bank President, David Malpass to give our closing remarks.
But first to kick things off, we are joined by the manager of this year's summit, O'Neall Massamba, who will say a few words. O'Neall is an infrastructure expert, a lawyer, and the manager of 2022s very successful youth summit. So O'Neall, take it away.
Julie, thank you very much for the warm introduction and to our audience watching from all over the world, hello and welcome to the 2023 World Bank Group Youth Summit Pitch Competition launch event.
The World Bank Group Youth Summit is the largest annual gathering of youth hosted by the World Bank Group to engage with youth from all over the world on the most pressing topics facing their generation and empower them to explore innovative ideas that tackle development challenges.
As we're celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the World Bank Group Youth Summit this year, we wish to bring light to local voices, local solutions and local change makers who are fundamental to achieving the World Bank group's twin goals of ending extreme poverty and fostering shared prosperity.
With our new theme, From the Ground Up: Local Solutions to Drive Global Impact, we strive to include voices of marginalized groups and place solutions that are created, led and driven by marginalized communities at the heart of initiatives to address three critical development challenges, fragility, conflict and violence, also called FCV, climate and energy and jobs and skills.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the development challenges with globally three to four years of progress toward ending extreme poverty estimated to have been lost. In regions affected by fragility, conflict and violence a multitude of risks has been intensified such as food security with around 81% of the nearly 193 million people estimated to be experiencing acute food insecurity in 2021 being from FCV countries. For displacement, we've by end of 2021, 85% of the 27.1 million of refugees being hosted in developing countries and climate change that could potentially drive 216 million people to migrate within their own countries by 2050.
Regarding climate actions, the priorities differ significantly across countries. However, nearly 733 million people still live without electricity worldwide and at the current rate of progress, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030, 10 million more than projected last year. Which places energy at the heart of development and justifies the effort toward universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy. Finally, jobs and raising labor incomes accounts for around 40% of the job in poverty worldwide and in low-income countries of the 90% of workers are in low quality and low productivity jobs does emphasizing the importance of creating pathways to better jobs by supporting better access to educations, development of skills and entrepreneurship.
To efficiently tackle these challenges and achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, we believe that voices of an often silenced are disregarded need to be brought to the global stage.
In continuity with the summit theme, the World Bank Group Youth Summit Pitch Competition invite young change makers from all over the world to make their voices heard and share local solution that can have a global impact to address development challenges in FCV countries and setbacks arising from climate change and lack of energy access and jobs and skills.
With the pitch competition, we're not just offering you a sit at the table, we're encouraging you to create your own table and show to our global audience and decision makers that local voices, local knowledge and local solutions can create the pathway to responsibly tackling global development challenges. I would like to conclude by thanking you for attending this session that will not only give you more information on the pitch competition, but also highlight the importance of few flat solutions to drive global impact and hopefully encourage you to continue to be the drivers of a green, resilient and inclusive development. Thank you very much. Over to you, Julie.
Thank you so much, O'Neall. That gave us a great idea of how important these issues are in this day and age and how young people can be a really crucial part of these solutions for these development issues.
Let's turn now to the pitch competition co-leads on our steering committee for the youth summit this year, Srujani and Raaga, who will present more details on the pitch competition this year. Srujani is an environmental engineer, and she has a lot of experience working in sustainability, the environment and social development. Raaga is an economist by profession with a background in financial inclusion and resilience, and Srujani and Raaga are both running the pitch competition so they can give us a good idea of what themes they're looking for in pitches this year and what makes a good pitch. Srujani and Raaga, please go ahead.
Thank you, Julie for the wonderful introduction. A very good morning, afternoon, evening. To the audience. Thank you for joining today's conversation.
As we talk about the three thematic pillars of the pitch competition, I hope you will be inspired to think creatively about the solutions you can offer to the issues of fragility, conflict and violence, climate and energy, and jobs and skills. Please note that while we have suggested some topics under each pillar, the list is not exhaustive and we are open to receiving applications on other topics as well as long as they adhere to at least one of the three thematic pillars.
The solution could be in any form, physical product, digital product, technical product. Could be supply chain or operations focused, could be a program, could be policy or business oriented or in any other form as long as it results to solve the defined challenges. We encourage the participants to give special emphasis on gender indigenous groups, marginalized communities, and also try to establish an opportunity for cross-regional knowledge sharing.
Now, let’s deep dive into the first thematic pillar, FCV. FCV is a critical challenge that is only set to become more pressing in the years to come. It is estimated that by 2030 up to two thirds of the world's extreme poor will be living in these environments. Please note that while we are looking for applications from the teams based in FFC affected regions, we are also open to teams based in non-FCV affected region as long as the solution addresses the relevant challenges.
Now, let's look at food security for example. We would encourage applicants to think about innovation and farming techniques, perhaps bringing back indigenous farming methodology with a modern outlook or find ways to manage pricing focusing on increasing productivity, a preservation of natural soil fertility, farm [inaudible] violence, conflict and or climate change can trigger displacement, force migration [inaudible] on the next slide, climate and energy.
It is clear that the effects of climate change are already being felt across the world. Extreme weather events are putting stress on energy production, making it more important than ever to reduce emissions and transition to sustainable energy sources. At the community level, we are looking for solutions aimed at strengthening community's resistance, helping them adapt to climate related shocks. Another area to look at would be mechanisms of behavior change, improving access to energy, reducing exposure to greenhouse gases, hence preventing the related negative health effects. Additionally, management techniques and policies that support low carbon energy usage, the transition to sustainable sources or any other innovative approaches and solutions focused on mobilizing funds for climate financing at the grassroots level, including private financing or private investments.
Let's move on to the final pillar, the next slide on jobs and skills, which is perhaps one of the most important for financial independence and empowerment. We encourage applicants to identify ways for skill building, vocational training, mentoring and empowerment to enable the marginalized to become eligible for employment or perhaps for starting their own venture. Also, solutions that support local entrepreneurship through programs, boot camps and empowerment initiatives while addressing FCV or climate challenges. Solutions that help and aim to local communities achieve financial independence through saving schemes and other financial tools, ensuring equal access to financial products and services that would help enhance an individual's voice and power of financial decision making. Solutions aimed at fostering, create economic conditions and leverage private capital and investment.
As you develop your proposal, remember to keep in mind the following tips. First, identify unique local challenges and develop solutions that will have a real impact at the grassroots level. Second, don't be afraid to start from scratch. Even if you don't have an existing venture, you can still apply by the deadline. Third, use the wealth of resources available to you including World Bank Group publications and other relevant research to inform your work. The final advice would be, if possible, spend some time on the ground interacting with local communities virtually or in person to get a better understanding of their needs and the visibility of your solution. The stage is set, the challenge is clear and the opportunity is yours. We look forward to seeing the innovative and impactful solutions that you will bring to this competition. Thank you. Over to you, Raaga.
Thank you Srujani. In this segment of the event, we also wanted to address a few frequently asked questions about the pitch competition. As you would see in the next slide, we would first and foremost start talking about the process of the competition.
The very first criteria that you would have to meet is that of the age. Anybody between the ages of 18 and 35 is eligible to apply. We accept applications from individuals or teams of up to five people regardless of their background. You could be a student, you could be somebody from the workforce, somebody with prior experience, but no prior experience is necessary. As long as you have an innovative solution to share, we are all ears. With each passing year, we try to be more inclusive and therefore are encouraging diverse and gender balanced team to apply.
The most important date to remember would be that of March 3rd. That is when we close the call for application, March 3rd, 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. Please do make a special note of the time zone. Once the applications are in, they will go through multiple rigorous rounds of screening, including an interview round which we are hoping to conduct early to mid-April. We will then invite six finalists to pitch their decks during the youth summit on the 25th and 26th of May. Your pitch decks would be the deciding factor for your application. This year, like last year, we are accepting pitch decks in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.
On the topic of pitch decks, one more important thing that we would like to share is what your pitch decks should look like on the next slide. There is a pitch deck available for your reference with detailed information of what we are looking for. For example, vision and mission of the team, target audience, competitive landscape, so on and so forth. But please note that either you can follow the template or use it as a jumping off point to customize your deck to better suit your pitch.
But since the template is already available for your reference, we wanted to use this time to give you a gist of what makes a pitch deck stand out to us as you put them through multiple screening processes. The very first thing we would be looking for is how clearly and well-defined your problem statement is, what is the problem that you're trying to solve? Why is it important to solve this problem? And then how unique and innovative your solutions are and how is it catering to your community? What unique resources and knowledge are you adopting into your solutions? In addition to that, we look at the scope and relevance of your solution. Lastly, to adhere to this year's theme of local solutions to drive global impact, we are looking to see how you are highlighting and using local voices and local knowledge at grassroot levels as you design your solution.
These little details in your pitch give us a better understanding of your solution, your motivation and your determination and go a long way making a lasting impact.
Lastly, in the next slide we will talk about why should you participate, what is in it for you? The World Bank Youth Summit is a global platform and gives you visibility from across the world. But in addition to giving you global recognition, we are also looking to help you reach your potential and reach out to relevant resources in the industry that could help you build your business further.
Thanks to our partners, George Washington University, Deloitte and the UN Youth Envoy, we are extending these opportunities to the winners of the competition and also to the six finalists that get to pitch their decks live during the youth summit. These opportunities include pitch coaching from an industry expert, which our past finalists have called life changing and a chance to promote and highlight their work on the Youth Summit social media platforms.
We are also looking to put the finalists in touch with industry experts within their region. Additionally, the pitch competition winner will get certificates and awards to recognize their work and also have a chance to enroll in a pre-accelerator program. They will also get support and mentoring from an industry expert for up to six months post the competition. As we wrap up this segment of the event, we would also like to encourage you to ask us any questions using the chat function, or you can also write to us at [email protected] with the subject pitch competition. Thank you, and over to Julie.
Thank you so much, Raaga and Srujani. I think that really showed how important local solutions are to achieving green resilient and inclusive development from the ground up and thank you so much for highlighting some structure of the pitch competition process.
We're so excited to see everyone's applications. Please do use the chat function during this live event to answer your questions and we'll be sure to field them a little bit later along with questions for our panel discussion. So with that, we'll turn it over to our panel discussion now. This is a conversation that we're very excited about among young innovators, a World Bank Group expert and a leader from the private sector to highlight the importance of youth-led local solutions for a global impact.
Our panel today is moderated by the esteemed journalist Sonia Dridi. Sonia is joined by last year's two top pitch competition winners. Stanley Anigbogu who came in first place with his company LightEd and Priyal Agrawal who came in second place last year with her company StandWeSpeak. Rounding out our panel, we have Dr. Arame Tall, a senior environmental specialist at the World Bank Group and Freedom-Kai Phillips who is the director of Deloitte's Center for Sustainable Progress. Sonia, please take it away.
Thank you, Julie. Hello everyone. I am very pleased to be moderating this event today. It's a great initiative by the World Bank Group and to support your select local solution that drive global impact. It's an exceptional opportunity for all the participants. The theme of this year's summit From the Ground Up: Local Solutions to Drive Global Impact spotlights development solution that are generated locally, elevated globally, and scale cross regionally.
I will now introduce very briefly the very talented panelists who are with us today. Priyal Agrawal is a young social entrepreneur, gender equality activities and a certified sexuality educator with passionate about answering that millennials and generation Z have easy access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. She won the second place at the final of the Youth Summit 2022 Pitch Competition, and she receive so many other awards. Stanley Anigbogu is the award-winning CEO and co-founder of LightEd, a company that recycles electrical and electronic waste to provide energy solutions to world families. He's the winner of the World Bank Pitch Competition in 2022. Dr. Arame Tall is the senior environmental specialist in the climate change group of the World Bank. She leads coordination of the Bank's work on adaptation and resilience. Before joining the bank in 2017, she worked for 15 years in climate adaptation and development, and our last guest is Dr. Freedom-Kai Phillips, director of Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress. In addition, he's also a legal research fellow with the Center for International Sustainable Development Law and a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law. Thank you all for making the time to be with us.
We'll start with our first topic. Our first topic we're going to talk about the local development solution to drive a global impact in many countries. Indeed, local development operation are the most effective and timely way to reach remote groups. Local development solutions have a strong track record in moving funds quickly and flexibly in response to natural disasters such as typhoons or earthquake as unfortunately Turkey and Syria are now experiencing. Community groups often know best what the specific needs are in each community. So, Priyal and Stanley, I would like you to tell us, maybe if you could each present your innovative development solutions to give us an idea of how your solutions have made a crucial impact on your local communities and how you believe your solutions can make an impact globally. We can start maybe with Priyal.
Hi, thank you for this question. At StandWeSpeak we are building this as an AI driven anonymous platform that provides sexual and reproductive health information products, access to experts. It's a one stop solution for all sexual and reproductive health needs. And when we talk about local solutions, it is important because when we cater to such problems, we know on ground what issues are and what cultural differences are. For example, in India, nobody's willing to talk about sexual awareness. We don't have any comprehensive sexuality education in schools. Parents don't talk about it, teachers don't talk about it. We don't have any source of information. When we understand the problem coming up with a solution becomes more relevant for the users. That's why the anonymity part came in for our solution. That's why the holistic solution came into being. We are also making this as gender inclusive because nobody is really catering to the LGBTQ community. I think knowing your audience and knowing your users, knowing your location and people is really important for the solution.
Thank you. If we can now go to Stanley.
Hi, can you hear... Hello?
Hi Stanley. We can hear you.
Yes, I think you just have to unmute. I see that you're on mute. I don't know if you can hear me, Stanley? Okay, so I think we'll go back to Stanley in a few minutes.
We can now go on our second topic development solution in FCV afflicted areas. So FCV stands for fragility conflict and violence. By 2030 up to two third of the world's extreme poor will live in cities afflicted by FCV. Russian invasion of Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and even climate change exacerbate many developments risk affecting FCV settings. Dr. Arame, as someone who does operation work in Burundi, which the World Bank classifies as FCV state, what unique challenge do FCV affected location face. And can you also tell us which specific insight can youth innovators from FCV areas bring?
Thank you very much for having me on this very timely panel. It's enthusing for me to discuss youth and climate change together because young folks will really bring the solutions to this climate crisis that we face. So, why should we be concerned about FCV locations? I'm hailing today from Burundi where I'm based and what we see in places such as Burundi, one of the poorest countries in the globe and least responsible for climate change. We see that climate change is an accelerator, so where countries were already facing political instability, poverty and widespread lack of access to resources and food supply and water climate change comes as a maelstrom to accelerate those impacts and truly increase fragility. I'll give you a specific, example here in Burundi, 90% of the communities live on these colline hillsides that dot across this beautiful country.
However, these communities also face increased land degradation that gets worsened every time there's a heavy rainfall event and it leads to landslides, and it leads to communities, mostly women during the farming having access to less arable lands. In this country contexts, it is particularly important that we are generating locally driven solutions, and I'm enthused to share the story of one innovator very much like Stanley, here in Burundi called Delphin Kaze. Why is Delphin important? Delphin studied at the University of Burundi and in his third year of university dropped off. That's not a reference, but in any case, he dropped off to do something quite amazing. He started his own circular economy company. Because he couldn't pay the means to finish his university, he started taking wasted materials, mostly food waste and use them to recycle them and create charcoal out of them.
So now Delphin is very wealthy. I'll share this, very wealthy entrepreneur here in Burundi who has exploited charcoal from recycled sources and made a living out of it and most importantly has shown the way for how we can develop innovative solutions locally made, youth-led, and Delphin now employs over 50 people. I think there's multiple stories that give us hope such as Delphin Kaze and Stanley, as well as all the pitch finalists from this amazing competition that you've started. And it gives me a lot of hope that we can face together the climate crisis and indeed that countries that are suffering the most can also be contributing to solutions.
I'll also end with the words of Vanessa Nakate, who you know is our African Greta Thunberg. I like sharing her stories because I think she's decided that we cannot be silent. There's no planet B, climate change is the biggest threat to our livelihoods today and to our very existence as a planet. So, she's taken it upon herself to go door-to-door in her community and now globally to share the gospel that we have got to act on climate change before it's too late.
I'll stop at that. Again, all the power to the many youths around this conversation and look forward to the brilliant things that you'll continue to achieve. Thank you. And back to you, Sonia.
Thank you so much doctor for your insights. Thank you very much for your time too. Before going back to Stanley, I would like to ask Priyal, in the same domain, as an expert in community-driven development in the area of women's health. From your experiences Priyal, can you share some innovative examples around local solution from locations affected by FCV?
You're on mute, Priyal.
Yeah, so if I have to talk about India specifically, we see that one in three people suffer from gender-based violence. Every second child is a victim of sexual abuse, yet we don't have any solutions who are catering to these needs. Also, because the whole domain is soaked in shame and stigma. Now we see young people, especially this generation coming up with innovative solutions. If I have to use examples now we have innovators who are building game-based modules, game-based videos so that young people can learn on their own how to keep themselves safe and what to do if they're in any situations to know more about the laws and how to take steps further. Some of these solutions have come in also because technology enables us to reach out to young people directly without having any other medium to go through, be it schools, if parents don't want to adopt it. We have a technology that enables us to empower young people and people who are suffering because of conflicts, because of climate crisis, because of violence, so they have resources to turn to.
Thank you so much, Priyal. Now back to Stanley. If you could present your innovative development solution to give us an idea of how your solution have made a crucial impact on your local community.
Awesome, thank you so much Sonia. Apologies for my internet went off at the right or wrong moment. Hello everyone. My name is Stanley Anigbogu, I am a creative technologist. I started LightEd, a renewal energy company that recycles electronic and electrical waste. The inspirational story about what we do is we solve a problem and identified it as an opportunity to solve another problem. That is the creative part of what we do at LightEd, using electronic waste to build solar products. Also recycling, for example my own batteries and some other basic electronic components. At the moment we're furthering our innovations into using plastic bottles and other plastic materials that are more reoccurring to build like lamps as well for refugees and other communities.
The center of what we stand for at LightEd is about reaching those that are not being reached and people know that they are existing. For example, those communities that people know that they do not have access to these solutions, yet we keep on having this global cry of climate change and shifting into a green economy while there are so many communities that are left behind. So that is the aim of what we do at LightEd, to reach to those communities by being innovative and simplifying technology and also being as innovative as possible to solve their problems and help them transition for fossil fuel energy to clean energy. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much Stanley for your insight. I will now talk about the green solutions to mitigate climate change and boost energy security. According to the World Bank Group’s most recent research climate change could drive 216 million people to migrate to their own countries. By 2050, climate change could also cut crop yields, especially in the world's most food insecure regions. I would like to ask Dr. Freedom-Kai, how can young activists put idea into action for combating climate change? If you can tell us a little bit about that.
Thank you, Sonia, and thank you everyone for joining us. Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening dependent upon your time zone.
Really youth have a critical role being able to look at these challenges with the degree of salience and degree of freedom that many in the international community are encumbered by virtue of the ongoing negotiations and advancement around climate change activities.
I have three innovative solutions that I hope can help give some context to different approaches and projects that might inspire each of you. The first is Project Océanium. Project Océanium comes from Senegal. It originally started as a CDM project that was registered by a local NGO and then eventually received a secondary and tertiary round of funding through the Livelihood Ventures Fund. Project Océanium at the end of the day engaged over 350 local communities. This was a ground up organic process. Ultimately bringing forward over a 100 thousand people to restore an ecosystem in the region. That ecosystem was a mangrove forest. Now, we think sometimes when we're young and we see these types of challenges as incredibly daunting, we ask ourselves what would be the impact that we could have. This example I think is quite poignant in highlighting the impact that in small group of youth innovators could have. Over a five-year window, they were able to restore over 10 thousand hectares of mangrove forest. Now in context, that's equivalent to the size of Paris. Following a 10-year review of this particular project, over 50 thousand households identified direct benefits as a result of this particular project, increases in household income, diversification of livelihood options, and most important a boosting of depleted fish stocks in the particular region by virtue of the enhanced ecosystem conservation and restoration activities. More importantly, the local communities were empowered through capacity building and support from technical experts to be able to generate gold standard carbon credits over a 20-year span. The project in and of itself, outside of simply restoring the mangrove enhancing local livelihoods and SDG benefits across a range of participants also generates roughly 500 thousand carbon credits that will then be shared on the international market.
Secondly, I'd like to draw your attention to the eNuk program. This is from Northern Canada. This is driven by Inuit organizations and local communities that are utilizing cell phone technology in the creation of a digital network to be able to track changes of ecological character within Canada's Arctic. This one is quite important because it provides a unique interface between youth and elders. A way in which this organic network and ecosystem is able to both monitor changes of ecological character but also facilitate an engagement with indigenous knowledge and a transfer of that indigenous knowledge across generations, empowering young people to be able to advance technology solutions that are responsive to climate change and also empower their local communities to adapt to these troubling circumstances.
The last I'll draw your attention to is a blockchain solution that ultimately was homegrown by Deloitte in support of the Japanese government and a range of on the ground innovators. This solution leveraged a blockchain distributed ledger technology to be able to create a sustainable transparent supply chain for cocoa by being able to integrate a wholehearted end-to-end solution, facilitating chain of custody for the raw material, working with local NGOs and stakeholders to build capacity amongst regional farmers, and then supporting accreditation for fair trade and certified organic. The project itself empowers local communities to 3 or 4x their household income by virtue of the increased market value of the raw commodity and then subsequently gives security of supply to the organizations that would be facilitating the purchase on the international market.
These are three solutions that sit at the nexus across a range of SDGs, be those climate adaptation, be that biodiversity conservation, be that poverty eradication or enhancing food security.
I hope these have been somewhat informative to show you the range of intersections that youth have been able to leverage to drive robust change. I encourage you to think boldly. I encourage you to work with your colleagues in the area and ensure that the output of your innovative thinking can have a very robust impact because as these three projects are emblematic of, youth have a lot to say, youth have done a lot and youth can have an incredible impact.
Thank you so much Dr. Freedom-Kai for your remarks. I think it's great to know about all of these initiatives and it, I think gives a lot of hope. I also would like, before going to the last topic to thank Dr. Arame, who had to go, it was really great to have her here.
Now, we're going to talk about promoting financial security through jobs and skills. World Bank Group research shows the developing world is facing a job crisis. Jobs and rising labor incomes account for around 40% of the job in poverty worldwide, but in low-income countries, over 90% of workers are in low quality, low productivity jobs. I would like to ask Stanley, Priyal, and Dr. Freedom-Kai as experts with firsthand experiences nurturing young people with successful local businesses, what advice would you give to young job creators? Maybe, we can start with your Stanley.
Thank you so much. From my perspective, my point of view as someone that has been in the education space and environment space as regards to entrepreneurship as well, and I will tell you that young people often look for a solution first without identifying the problem. I think that's the number one issue in innovative solutions is when you go solution hunting, that's you don't find that you actually go for problem hunting, then the solution hunts you. That's the actual truth. The whole process as an entrepreneur. Like I said at LightEd one of the things we paid attention was how can we design energy solutions to be different from other energy companies? How can we innovate better? We looked at existing companies, we found out how they were building their solutions, they were also contributing to the problem that they were trying to solve. We had to innovate around that.
One of my students has gone, at the moment, to design a solar collection space for electronic waste and they found out that was a problem for my startup to collect electronic waste. It takes us time to do that, to build our solutions. By identifying find the problem, he was close or she was also close to me seeing that problem, they innovated from my own problem. Problem solving doesn't have to be identifying the world's biggest problem. I think the advice I would give is start by finding problems in your house. Some other people would have that problem. Look for those people, validate those numbers, be sure that that is a problem that exists. It's not just an imagination. It actually does exist. Then you could also expand outside your community depending on the tools and resources you have, you grow.
My first energy project was back in 2016. I was still 17 years when I started and that was crazy. No one believed in me. It took me up to at least seven, six years before someone would say that sounds like an amazing idea. You have to keep on going. At a point, people will call you crazy, people call you not sensible, but the beauty of a dream is it is yours and you are the only one that should believe in that. Keep on pushing, find problems, solve problems that people will pay for your solutions. Thank you very much.
Thank you very much Stanley, and you have a really great story. Thank you for your hard work.
And now if we can go to Priyal, you could also share how you built your organization from an idea to a business.
First of all, I really like that point, Stanley that you mentioned about focusing on the problem and the solution will follow. I totally believe in that.
About me, I have three things to share with all the young innovators.
Number one, don't be afraid to start alone even if you don't have the domain expertise. I come from a science and arts background and now I'm running a tech-based business. I started alone, I learned all the skills that I needed and with time we grew, we build the team, all the expertise that we needed. But just have that faith in yourself that if you are passionate, if you want to solve the problem, you will figure out a way. So don't be afraid to start alone. That is one.
The second one is always reach out to people. I really believe that people out there are willing to help you if you have the courage to just ask for it. Like I said, I started alone. I reached out to people in UK, in US sitting in India, and I was just mentioning that this is the problem that I'm trying to solve and you are the experts in this domain. Could you just share some insights and these are my ideas, what do you think and how do I move forward? I realized that a lot of people were just willing to help and connect with you and help you with the way forward with if you needed help with coming up with the financial model, with the domain knowledge, with tech. So that is how we move forward and we still have around 10 plus global mentors who are guiding us in this journey. So don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask for help.
The third one is when we are focusing on a global issue and we know that it's a huge problem that occurs maybe in your own country, in your own city or in the global level, sometimes you feel that it's a lot to work on and it's a huge problem, how would you be able to solve it? I would suggest that just focus on the next right step. Don't think about the whole picture. If you know what you have to focus on right now and one thing that's important that you need to work on, everything else will follow and everything else will fall into place as long as what is that one thing that needs your attention right at this moment? So that is how we built our own solution because I know that sexual and reproductive health, this is a global issue and this needs to be solved on a global level, but we needed to start somewhere. So yes, that's our journey. Thank you.
Thank you so much Priyal, and I think you gave a great advice to not be afraid to reach out for help when you start. Thank you very much.
Now, I will ask Dr. Freedom-Kai if you have any other advice on the matter.
Well, I think the advice that's been provided is spot-on to start and all summarize in three key points, drawing some synergies from my colleagues.
The first is creating ecosystem around you. I don't mean this necessarily as experts but have folks that you can bounce ideas off of that you can work things out in the background that can be there to encourage you and to push you that can demand more of you that understand who you are and can be supportive of it. It's very difficult to overcome any challenge, let alone these significant challenges. What I have found in my work with various scholars and mentees is that by creating that support system around them of folks who are looking at the issue the same way or who have a similar set of knowledge or critical challenges that they're passionate about, that really helps invigorate throughout the ongoing evolution.
The second is iterate early and often. As Priyal and Stanley both alluded to, reaching out to folks is incredibly important, but also sharing ideas early is very important. This was why I started with the ecosystem. If you are working in a cascade model where you have to build the ideal solution and you don't share this with anyone, and then you pull it out and you go ta-da it may not resonate with the necessary engaged actors, the community, the people that you're trying to solve the problem for. Being able to demonstrate what those ideas are even in early stages, first within your kind of comfortable internal ecosystem and then subsequently engaging the actors whose problem you are looking to solve. This speaks to Stanley's, let the problem guide you in many ways. By being able to iterate those ideas early and often it helps calibrate the validity of the end solution and ensure that the end solution is on point or hits the mark that you're aiming to achieve.
And the last I'll say and very plainly is be resilient. Resilience not just simply to the responsiveness of this changing dynamic of somewhat uncertainty on the international plane, but personally resilient because these challenges that we are all passionate about, we are all driven by are in no way going away. These are life defining challenges, our response to which will define the way in which future generations looks upon us. These are things that will guide you for generations and throughout that evolution be that with this particular solution or a range of other solutions that you might engage with, you will need to have a degree of belief and a degree of resilience. As my two previous speakers alluded to, they may consider you mad. I can guarantee you the leader of the NGO, Océanium that won a 2015 Ramsar award for their work in Senegal was a lovely gentleman. He said the exact same thing to me was that when he started people thought he was mad, that he would not actually be able to achieve the thing that he had he had described to. And then five years later the impacts in many ways spoke for themselves. Creating an ecosystem to help empower you to actualize your goals, iterate early and often to ensure that the solution is calibrated to the problem and be resilient throughout.
Thank you so much Dr. Freedom-Kai. Very great advice from our panelist, and now I'll take a few questions from the audience. So, we're going to start with a question from Eli Min So. She's asking how can the youth lead the energy transition and which model of networking can they develop to contribute to reaching the net-zero goals? If one of our three panelists wants to take this question? Do you have anything to say on the matter, Dr. Freedom-Kai or to add?
Maybe I'll start very quickly. Not entirely understanding the direct context. What I would suggest is starting to identify what those pathways look like. What we found in our research is that the types of pathways that you might have, the menu of options that might be in front of you, they all have a range of dependencies and potential impacts that need to have a further degree of attention placed upon. Understanding which particular pathway you are looking to drive, how it is achieving net-zero, where it is achieving net-zero, what are some of the financial considerations that might be important across that transition, where there might be bankability issues where you may need to bring in certain external partners, where you may need to have a degree of collaboration to be able to lower the cost of capital for deployment.
Those types of questions across that transition pathway exist for the range of transition pathways across sectors towards net-zero that might be important to consider. I would encourage you to identify what those pathways are, identify what some of those critical milestones, dependencies and impacts would be, and then again, be able to identify what the priority pathway would be based on its alignment to your problem and positive sustainable development outcomes.
Thank you very much. Now, maybe a question for Priyal from Ojasvi Vyas, "With the growing rate of sexual violence cases around the world, what do you think can be the possible solutions that youth can come up with? And if we talk about awareness, we must remember that awareness without measurement goes in vain. Then what impactful solutions can the youth come up with?"
Okay, so thank you first of all for that question. I would say that currently until now we have been focusing on word after violence, how do we help them seek help and support. But we also need to see how we can prevent this violence from happening. Though it comes from awareness that giving them resources about the laws and how to seek addresses, but I also feel that there's a mindset change that needs to come. People need to learn how to be more respectful towards other's boundaries and towards other humans. So that starts from an early stage, from an early age. We need to start early on educating people about consent, about boundaries, about how to communicate that, how to keep themselves safe and how to keep others safe as well. I think building a holistic solution is important where we are giving awareness, where we are also giving them resources to seek help. But the ultimate solution according to me would be bringing in the change in the mindset of people.
Thank you very much. Thank you. And Stanley, even if you already talked a little bit about it, if you could please share how you built your organization from an idea to a business, if there is anything you want to add about that. There is a question about that.
Okay. Definitely still I could spend the whole day talking about my story because it's six years. It's a lot of stories. Well, I'll keep this simple, I remember one of the first presentation I had, first pitch I had of my idea telling someone, then it had a different name. Another thing, please do not fall in love with an idea. Don't fall in love with an idea or a solution. That is the one thing as an entrepreneur, as a social designer innovator, don't fall in love with the idea, fall in love with the problem and evolve with that. Let the ideas evolve. I remember my first speech, they told me that my idea was not feasible, and it was not irrelevant, and so I would've been discouraged. I remember I left angrily, I went for another competition, and I didn't win again. I couldn't get funding to build my prototypes the way I wanted it to look.
Then I almost left angrily again. Then I waited. I asked myself one question, why didn't I qualify? Then I asked the jury when she was about to leave, why do you think I didn't win? She gave me feedback. One of the most interesting parts of my story, apart from being resilient, persistent consistency, is have a growth mindset, learn how to learn, unlearn, and always learn how to teach and share. I love what Mr. Freedom-Kai said, always have people you bounce off ideas off. People meet me and I pour ideas at them and they're like, are you not scared I would steal your idea? I'm like, no, because ideas exist to be shared. Share ideas, people give you feedback, develop it. Sometimes, I tell people, if I tell you my idea, please go build it. It'll help make it easier for me to innovate on what you have built. Share ideas, get feedback, have a growth mindset and keep on growing step by step. So that's it. Thank you.
Thank you so much. We'll have two last questions from Dr. Freedom-Kai. We just have a few minutes, but if you can answer them, "It's thanks for sharing the case study on mangrove restoration project. What will be the best way to replicate this in other regions? You mentioned blockchain and technical interventions, but we are also living in a world where not everyone has access to internet. Are there any organizations that provide support or ways to self-train remotely?"
That's a great question. The first thing is I would say is start small. Start with the ecosystem that you can control. This was why I leveraged the eNuk program. They simply created a digital network using cell phones. The same type of approach has been deployed in a range of jurisdictions, Cambodia, where they won an Ecuador prize for being able to mobilize communities to monitor forestry activities. This prevented illegal forestation, it prevented illegal harvesting of forest raw materials or flora or fungi. One example is don't feel that the particular challenge is too big, leverage the technologies that you have currently at your deployment.
The second is I would take a look at, as Stanley was saying, be in love with the problem, but I would take a look at the way in which other organizations are engaging in problem solving within that space because that'll give you a secondary list of best practices or lessons learned that you can incorporate into your solution.
The third and I think this is critical across all of the examples, is build a network. The Océanium example engaged 350 local villages. The gentleman literally went around from village to village meeting with their elders, meeting with their senior leaders and their chiefs and being able to get the entire community on board. I think just being able to in many ways roll up your sleeves and do the work that's necessary to build the coalition of the willing to start the action, I think is incredibly important. I know this sounds really daunting and this was why I liked the initial point that was said very early on, which was determine the next thing that you need to do. There's a famous phrase which is, “how you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” These challenges are monumental in scale if we allow our mind to simply focus on the scale.
But if we are able to work down to the direct cause of actions that we look to impact, for instance, with the Océanium example, it's targeting the particular communities that you've looked at reach out to. It's establishing those relationships. It's establishing the communication material and capacity building material that you would use to help build their buy-in. It's building that network so that they're able to engage. Once you have a degree of momentum, I think it's then that you're able to look for broader external support and there's a range of external supports. Be those within a given country, an NGO, a set of technical support from your university where there's interfaces, a range of international operators where there's a higher degree of difficulty engaging those. And then of course external experts who are helpful in guiding you along this path. This was why I was stressing the need for the ecosystem.
I think this draws alignment to some of the aspects that Stanley was highlighting in both bouncing ideas off of people for validity, but also being able to find synergies and being in that growth mindset or that degree of flexibility. You can find synergies across a spectrum of individuals or organizations, tweak your idea or adjust your idea to align across each of those particular actors and then be able to build collectively a solution that engages that problem. At the end of the day, you might be slightly off course from where you may have started, you might be totally off course from where you've started, but if you're driven by the problem and you're driven by having a positive sustainable development impact, those are two really critical steps. But being able to bring in external funding in many ways, or external support in many ways does require a higher degree of sophistication of some of your own solutions. Start small, work within your network, build a community of those who help support the particular response. Those are really good starting points.
Thank you very much Dr. Freedom-Kai and thank you to our wonderful panelist. I'm sure you motivated a lot of young people today. Now back to Julie.
Thank you so much, Sonia. It was so great hearing from our panel. It was so interesting seeing all those inspiring examples of young people innovating and creating jobs in their communities, becoming local leaders. I love what Stanley said about solving problems close to home problems, problems in your house, in your community. That is truly, I think, how the world is changed by one local solution at a time. That's really the heart of this year's theme on local solutions. So that was so interesting to hear about.
To close the session today we are joined by Mr. Samuel Munzele Maimbo, the Chief of Staff for the World Bank Group President, David Malpass. We're so excited to hear some insights from him. So please go ahead, Samuel.
[Samuel Munzele Maimbo]
Great. Good day. Thank you very much for having me join you today. Let me start off by expressing my thanks to Stanley, Sonia, Priyal, Julie, Freedom-Kai. Just listening to your stories is exceptionally motivating and I'm sure this is the same for all of the participants today.
I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate all of you for being leaders and for being problem solvers in your local communities. The fact that you would devote some of your time this morning to this conversation is testimony to your character and to the opportunities that you clearly must see. Now to help you with your mission to change the world, the World Bank Groups Youth Summit Pitch Competition, as you'll have heard from Julie and others, is really just one way in which our organization mobilizes young development solutions. I’ve been in the Bank a long time and have never been disappointed with listening to young people come with perceptions and views that some of us may have become a little too cynical to invest in.
The winner will be decided at the summit in May and they will receive supports to further develop their proposals. They will have access to World Bank mentors and the pre-accelerator bootcamp from a top tier American university. That alone, I hope will inspire you to submit proposals.
But let me just say a couple of things as well as we bring this session to a close. I strongly believe that the summit is an excellent catalyst for youth engagement as was shown by last year's record-breaking application numbers. I'm delighted that Stanley and Priyal are here today.
Last year the World Bank received over one thousand applications for the pitch competition from 107 countries. Over 20% of these applications came from low-income countries. I have to tell you, just going through these applications is a treat in and of itself. Almost all of the feedback we received from last year's delegates mentioned the finalist pitch presentations as a highlight of the summit last year. One finalist mentioned that the process was life changing and I truly believe that.
So thank you very much for making this pitch competition a huge success last year. I have no doubt that given all of the complexities that the world finds itself this year, that this year's summit will equally be exciting. Let me focus on this year's summit, and this is something that David himself is very keen to and was very supportive of my joining you today.
Every year the pitch competition shows that young people bring some of the boldest solutions at the local level. By focusing these local solutions on three sub-themes this year, fragility, conflict and violence, climate and energy and jobs and skills, we can discover the latest innovations developed by youth to solve the more salient crisis facing the world today. We could have a whole day session on the number of crisis that the world is facing today.
The pitch competition this year will focus on development themes relevant to our current world, which is full of overlapping crisis, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, war and forced displacement, the energy crisis, financial hardships, worldwide inflation, and just a few days ago, the earthquake in Turkey. By 2023, rather throughout 2023, these overlap overlapping crisis are causing a huge setback on global poverty. Many of you will know that the World Bank is reviewing its own global mission to see whether there is more that we can do with the resources that we have. An area of particular concern for me is the young people and the unemployment challenges, which are the highest globally since 1991. If you add to that, the global refugee population that is under 18, we do have the workings of significant crisis.
Now, for many of us who've been in the Bank for a long time we will have tried and tested many different solutions and are desperately in need of new innovative ways to address these challenges.
We as an institution, just to give you a sense of the many resources we are throwing at these problems, let me highlight a few innovations. Regarding the fragility, conflict and violence sub-theme, the World Bank is supporting youth with increased access to skills, development opportunities, livelihoods and entrepreneurship in cultural and creative sectors in Mosul, in Iraq, for example. On energy and climate, the World Bank remains the largest multilateral funder of climate investments in developing countries this year. In just one of the many projects on the topic, the Adaptive Safety Nets Project of Niger allows access for the country's poorest residents, a permanent and adaptive safety net system for cash transfers and community work in order to protect them from environmental shocks and to improve their climate resilience.
I could go on and on, but at its heart, the World Bank pushes to correct course on poverty reduction and support resilient recovery. This pitch competition will localize the spotlight, shifting power to the youth on the ground. In towns and villages across the world young people find innovative solutions that are actually things that we are interested in. By using technology such as creative, portable, solar panel delivery, female-led education platforms, and much, much more, we are keen to spotlight these innovations because it gives us an opportunity to provide additional resources and scale up this innovation.
To conclude this in innovation session, allow me to reiterate the support from the World Bank Group as a whole, as an institution to our youth engagement efforts and to reassure you that the support we'll provide will come from different regions of the Bank, and this will lead to regional events and creating local outreach. The World Bank is glad to support you and your projects. We hope that this is just the first step of many to foster a global impact from the ground up.
My final thoughts would be to just encourage you, as you've heard from the many panelists today, to keep innovating, keep working hard, keep challenging this data quo, keep collaborating, and most importantly, always believe in yourself and your ideas. Thank you very much for having me today. I challenge you to go out there and keep being great. I challenge you to challenge us and come back with some innovative proposals during this year's pitch competition process.
Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your day.
Thank you so much, Samuel. That was very an inspiring way to close out our summit pre-event information session. This concludes our live event today. If anyone watching has further questions, we encourage you to email us at [email protected] That's [email protected] Thank you so much for attending. We really hope it was a useful session for you, and we look forward to seeing you in person or online at our Youth Summit in May. Thank you everyone.
"As we're celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Youth Summit, we wish to bring light to local voices, local solutions & local change makers."
– O’Neall Massamba, Manager, Youth Summit 2022-2023
"It gives me a lot of hope that we can face together the climate crisis & that countries that are suffering the most can also be contributing to solutions."
– Arame Tall, Senior Environmental Specialist, World Bank Group
"Youth have a lot to say, youth have done a lot & youth can have an incredible impact."
– Freedom-Kai Phillips, Director of the Deloitte Center for Sustainable Progress (DCSP)
"Young people often look for a solution first without identifying the problem. Start with the problem."
– Stanley Anigbogu, 2022 WBG Pitch Competition Winner
"Every year the pitch competition shows that young people bring some of the boldest solutions at the local level."
– Samuel Munzele Maimbo, Chief of Staff, World Bank Group
"Keep innovating, keep working hard, keep challenging this data quo, keep collaborating, and most importantly, always believe in yourself and your ideas."
– Samuel Munzele Maimbo, Chief of Staff, World Bank Group
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