By Michelle Nelson von Euw
“Investment and attention for youth today is no longer an option but an obligation. It is about preparing a future leadership, responsible and committed to defend and build the country and safeguard a heritage.” – Diana Ofwona, UNDP Resident Representative
In September 2018, four international organizations (UNICEF, UNDP, Plan International and the World Organization of Scout Movement) joined together to launch the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge (GenU), an initiative that called on 800 innovators between the ages of 14 and 24 from 16 different countries to find solutions to issues of employment, education, and entrepreneurship. They were asked to answer the urgent question, “How can we ensure every young person has an education, skills and empowerment to build a better future?” Applicants then submitted their innovative ideas to the GenU Review Board The five most promising ideas from each of the 16 countries received a monetary award of $1,000 (USD) and mentoring services to further plan and implement their initiatives. The best project from each country moved on to a final global judging process and received an additional $20,000 (USD) in funding. This project yielded five winning teams whose innovative ideas sparked change in their respective countries. As an example, Team Amigo from Zimbabwe, one of the five winners, aimed to bring education directly into the homes of those who had difficulty getting to school and those who had to drop out due to lack of resources. With the help of the GenU funding, Team Amigo is developing an app which will give every student in Zimbabwe equal access to textbooks, tutorials, and additional learning materials.
GenU empowers youth to play an active role in creating a better world for themselves by giving them the funding and support necessary to implement creative solutions to the problems faced by their communities. This initiative shifts the power to young people who are better suited to assess the problems they face than governing bodies who observe from afar. GenU is giving a voice to a generation who has long been undervalued, and is allowing them to make important decisions regarding what international organizations can and should do for them. In December 2019, Niger was chosen for the implementation of GenU Youth Challenge 2.0 by the Scouts of Niger. This time around, 41 countries were chosen to participate. The application process launched in January of 2020 as GenU 2.0 moves forward and continues its mission of working in partnership with young people, for young people.
“About Generation Unlimited: Our Time, Our Turn, Our Future.” Generation Unlimited, www.generationunlimited.org/.
“‘Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2.0’ Lands in Niger.” UNICEF, www.unicef.org/niger/press-releases/generation-unlimited-youth-challenge-20-lands-niger.
“Meet the Five Global Winners of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge 2018/2019.” Generation Unlimited, www.generationunlimited.org/news-and-stories/meet-five-global-winners-youth-challenge.