Winners of YBI’s second Innovation Challenge announced

Youth Business International (YBI)’s second Innovation Challenge, supported by Accenture, aimed to encourage the development of innovative services for young entrepreneurs by network members. This year members could propose new models and approaches in four areas: mentoring, training, access to finance and access to markets.

Two winners were awarded $80,000 in total for their impressive projects and were selected by a panel of expert judges as well as YBI member voting. The winners were also awarded consultancy support to help them further develop their ideas.

The judging criteria included:

  • Problem validation : the level of understanding of the end beneficiaries, their needs and desires, and proof of validation of the problem the project is trying to address.
  • Compelling solution : the uniqueness and innovativeness of the solution.
  • Viability of implementation: the knowledge and capability of the team implementing the project and the technical feasibility of the solution proposed.
  • Sustainability and scalability: the ability of the organization(s) to take the project forward and scale it after the implementation phase.

We are delighted to announce that this year’s Innovation Challenge winners are:

ICCO Uganda: Digital A-CAT for Improved Lending to Young Agripreneurs

Many agripreneurs in Northern Uganda face challenges when seeking financing with few loans available and steep interest rates. ICCO Uganda will work with the Rural Finance Initiative to link high-potential youth farmers with microfinance institutions and provide a newly developed agricultural loan that offers a low interest rate. They will use a credit assessment tool that tracks the costs of agricultural performance and revenue, minimizing risks for both agripreneurs and microfinance institutes.

Joanne Ebbers, ICCO Uganda Country Manager, said:

“We are so happy to be able to roll out the pilot and can’t wait to get started! We hope it will help the young people we work with to grow their agribusinesses and create new jobs for other young people. Over the long-term, we want to use the programme to improve access to finance for many young people all over the world.”

Qredits, Netherlands and the Caribbean: EigenBaas Educational Programme for the Caribbean

Small islands such as Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao have limited entrepreneurship education programmes or support with business and financial planning. Qredits will deliver an advanced e-learning tool that teaches vocational students the different aspects and steps involved in starting a business. The programme will offer blended learning and can be easily translated and customised for different target groups and countries.

Evelyne Oprel, International Relations Manager at Qredits, said:

“Qredits is grateful and excited to have received the innovation award which enables us to create a special school programme for use in the Caribbean and the Netherlands. We want to help create more opportunities for young people locally by teaching them about entrepreneurship. This will strengthen their economies and hopefully take away some of the pressure to leave the islands looking for employment overseas. Together we can make a big difference!”

Anita Tiessen, YBI Chief Executive, said: 

“We had innovative, impressive finalists to choose from, and the judges and I are confident the two exceptional winners will deliver useful new tools that will help tens of thousands of young, underserved entrepreneurs across the YBI family for many years to come. Without a doubt, this kind of high impact programming and the results it will clearly deliver wouldn’t be remotely possible without the leadership and financial support of our partner, Accenture.”

The other Innovation Challenge finalists were:

Youth Business Spain: Smart MentorVIRTUAL

Smart MentorVIRTUAL aims to expand access to personal mentors using artificial intelligence to quickly and accurately respond to questions . After sending in questions through an online form or seeking out a mentorBOT, an AI-based chatbot, young entrepreneurs can quickly receive answers and advice regarding their businesses.

FATE Foundation, Nigeria: Enterprise Ecomap

The Enterprise Ecomap is Nigeria’s first online, centralised, keyword-searchable, indexed data source of advice and digital mentoring support for entrepreneurs. The platform is easy to navigate and helps entrepreneurs find funding, business support, mentoring, and access to markets using simple search queries.

Yo Queiro Yo Puedo, Mexico: Salesspot

Salesspot project provides physical places–small shops or kiosks–in major shopping malls, enabling entrepreneurs to sell products, connect to the market, and facilitate retail sales. Business advising, networking, and mentoring support are also included to help young entrepreneurs improve their businesses.

Fundación Paraguaya: Trampolín

Trampolín provides targeted services to entrepreneurs and organizations who are looking for ways to transform projects after receiving grant-funding. It offers easy access to networks, advice, and mentoring in rural areas in Paraguay. All entrepreneurs receive access to the Mentorem app, a platform to share business advice and network with other entrepreneurs and mentors.

The two winning initiatives will be implemented between November and June 2019. We will share an update on their progress in early 2020.

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