Linking South-South Youth Engagement with Sustainable Development

November 26, 2019

Twenty-eight young entrepreneurs from developing countries came together with local youth at the “Youth Innovation and Sustainable Development” Conference held in Shenzhen, China from 13-16 November 2019. The programme provided an opportunity for the young entrepreneurs to pitch their initiatives and network with entrepreneurs, potential investors, partners and others.

Hosted by the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government and supported by UNOSSC, along with the Shenzhen Youth Federation, UNDP, UNFPA and Office of the Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy, the Conference focused on fostering substantive exchanges between youth-led initiatives, youth entrepreneurs, thought leaders, investors and UN organizations. The Conference provided a unique platform for matchmaking and scaling up good practices.

During the three-day event, youth participants were introduced to the work of the United Nations agencies on innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable development, and had the opportunity for field visits to learn about Shenzhen industries and special economic zones.

A full day training and exchange workshop organized for youth entrepreneurs, focused on key concepts of entrepreneurship and innovation, development of project proposals and marketing. The workshop provided concrete exchanges and Q&A opportunities between youth participants and local young entrepreneurs from Shenzhen to share ideas, networks and mutual learning.

All 28 youth participants pitched their innovative ideas on building a sustainable future to expert panels. Thereafter, eight selected initiatives were entered into the Matchmaking and Scaling-up of Good Practices Competition, where participants presented their ideas ‘shark tank style’ to a panel of investors from Shenzhen, China and experts from UN agencies and universities.

Winners of the competition now have access to prizes ranging from USD 10,000 seed funding provided by the Shenzhen Youth Foundation, to mentorship opportunities with Shenzhen entrepreneurs, and international trainings in 2020.

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony of the conference, Xiaojun Grace Wang, UNOSSC Deputy Director, reminded the youth entrepreneurs that “cooperation is very important and a determining factor to achieve success”. She encouraged them to keep working towards building their enterprises while being conscious of alignment with the SDGs.

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