It was a special week spent with #DOTYouth social entrepreneurs from around 10 countries at the Digital Opportunity Trust Youth Unconference 2017. It was a big event to most attending youth, as it was an opportunity for sharing best practices and an opportunity to learn from each other on the topics of creating opportunity and social impact and community. Each and every youth delegate attending the Unconference was a social innovator with a startup social business or a growing enterprise. Held in Eastern Province, Nyamata City at Goldern Tulip La Palisse Kigali Hotel, The Dot Unconference gathered over 100 young social innovators from Rwanda, Kenya, Indigenous Canada, South Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda and a number of public opinion leaders from private organizations and governments.
The special experience of the event was that it was only about youth sharing. The Unconference was made of
Youth-led Sessions where youth shared how and which practices are working for them. This helped create a youth led movement of social innovators. I attended as a youth delegate from other social innovators sharing how we are solving our community problems. Youth delegates showcased their social enterprise’s solutions to different community problems ranging from waste management and ICT to agriculture and human capacity building. A group of young entrepreneurs from Lebanon shared their mobile app called Wasteless. The app helps connect first customers with the nearest E-waste collecting centers based on map icons and links to different NGOs dealing with E-waste. The group also provides a loyalty program which gives out “greens points” that motivates customers to drop off their e-waste providing information on how to deal with the growing threat of electronic waste.
I shared my enterprise “Real Green Gold Ltd” which helps train local farmers how to grow bananas organically in Eastern Rwanda, we also presented our new modern packaging for bananas, vacuum-sealed peeled green bananas. We remove the peels and vacuum seal them to be stored longer in fridge. They can be consumed fresh in a period of 4 months.
This new product targets local hotels and supermarkets to offer a range of benefits but mostly for dealing with sustainable waste management where businesses don’t have to deal with waste from banana peels in cities. The peels can be left at the production area and then become animal feed and bags are collected from these hotels and supermarkets and recycled into other farm materials.
I really enjoyed meeting Peter Nyoike founder of Muthoni Agrobiz a social entrepreneur from Kenya using organic farming to solve their community’s issue with environment degradation by reducing the use of pesticides that are killing bees and threatening the Kenyan honeybee and the overall ecosystem.
DOT’s Youth Unconference was a great model that I believe can be adopted by more actors to address different issues on a global or regional level. Social entrepreneurship as well is proving to be the best approach to meet the SDGs. Almost all of the social entrepreneurs I met in Kigali had at least one or two targets to reach an SDG. From ending poverty (SDG 1) to quality, education (SDG 4) like Kids and Math from Ghana and others using technology to help our community strive in harmony, justice and equality. I wish all of the success to every young social entrepreneur for their fight, not only for their self-livelihood but also for humanity as a whole and our mother planet Earth.
Blog written by: Earth Charter Young Leader Pacifique Nshimiyimana
Photo credits to Digital Opportunity Trust