Over 100 young Filipino innovators from all over the country gathered for the very first virtual Youth Social Innovation Lab to pitch their ideas that will address issues on social protection, digital divide, and green economy during pandemic. The online hackathon was presented by Youth Co:Lab Philippines, a program jointly led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation with makesense. This year’s theme is “Social Inclusion in Times of a Health Pandemic.”
Department of Trade and Industry Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Director Jerry Clevesillas affirmed that young and older generations can collaborate to create a brighter future for the country.
“Youth entrepreneurship has long been advocated by our government in the country. Entrepreneurship is also one of the dimensions wherein we are trying to advocate for the development and promotion of our youth sector,” said Clevesillas.
Twenty-eight teams from different sectors, with at least 50% were out-of-school youth, youth affected by conflicts, LGBT+, differently abled youth, and those from ethnic and religious minorities—took part in the four-day online hackathon that culminated in an online pitching competition. At the end of the competition, five teams were selected to receive grants to further develop their enterprises and the opportunity to bea part of the Youth Co:Lab Springboard Programme a follow-up business incubator to further support the young entrepreneurs.
The winning pitch came WeMind, a digital mental health platform that empowers individuals, fosters caring communities, and facilitates access to resources. It supports workplaces by providing them accessible and affordable resources to take care of their employees’ mental health and well-being.
Other top ideas who also won the online hackathon were Eunoia, an SMS-based learning platform intended to facilitate effective feedback in modular learning; COVID+Fun, an enterprise focused on creating interactive board games that educate children and youth on basic concepts and relevant information about COVID-19; Team Maharlika, a team developing a device that handles both voice-to-text and gesture-to-voice messaging systems to assist in diminishing communication barriers with the use of assistive technologies and machine learning, and GoodGov PH, who plans to innovate the use of the Facebook Messenger chat box platform to identify user’s specific legal situation resulting to accurate and useful response.
In his message to the participants, UNDP Philippines’ Resident Representative Selva Ramachandran underscored the significant contribution that the Filipino youth’s innovative ideas can make.
“We target young innovators and entrepreneurs particularly those who belong to underrepresented sectors. Abiding by the principle of leaving no one behind, we must reach the farthest first and bring these opportunities to them; from starting a small community project to developing a business model to attracting investors. A big return is expected not just to young social entrepreneurs but to the communities and stakeholders that they serve,” said UNDP Philippines Resident Representative Dr. Selva Ramachandran.
“Your participation in this initiative for our future speaks volumes of how much you care about the world we live in and the future generations. Through Citi’s Pathways to Progress initiative, we aim to equip young people, particularly those from underserved communities, with the skills and networks needed to succeed in today’s rapidly changing economy,” said Citi Philippines Citizenship Officer Jacqueline Ampil during the virtual event.
Community partners who helped make the event a success include the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bangsamoro Youth Commission (BYC), 2030 Youth Force Philippines, AI4GOV, AIESEC in the Philippines, FEU Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Ideas Positive, SDG Villages and Friends for Leadership.
Co-created in 2017 by the UNDP and Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region 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. By developing 21st century skills, catalyzing and sustaining youth-led startups and social enterprises across the region, Youth Co:Lab is positioning young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges.