First ever social innovation entrepreneurial challenge for young people opens in Mogadishu

Abdi Dirshe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development and George Conway, UNDP Somalia, at opening of the first "Innovate for Somalia" social innovation event in Mogadishu © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie
Abdi Dirshe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development welcomes participants to the social innovation challenge © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie
George Conway, UNDP Somalia Country Director, speaks at opening day of Innovate for Somalia event in Mogadishu © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie
Facilitator Gazbia Sorour introduces first session at Innovate for Somalia dairy industry challenge in Mogadishu © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie
A young Somali woman takes part in first Innovate for Somalia event in Mogadishu © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie
Young Somali men take part in the social innovation challenge for the dairy industry in Mogadishu © UNDP Somalia/Ahmed Dirie

Mogadishu, 2nd October. The first ever “Innovate for Somalia” social innovation camp has opened in Mogadishu on Monday, which will see over 50 young Somali men and women brainstorm to come up with business ideas to improve the Somali dairy industry. The event, which will run over 7 days, will conclude with a finale on the 9th October, with the young people forming teams to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges and win support for their idea. The winning teams will then enter a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) incubation initiative to learn how to take their idea to market.

The social innovation event is being run by the Somali Federal Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, and the Federal Ministry of Trade and Industry, in collaboration with UNDP in Somalia. It is part of a series of innovation camps which will be held across Somalia and which will give young Somalis between the ages of 19 -30 a chance to come up with innovative solutions to address development challenges in Somalia. The innovation camp series aim to support the Federal Government of Somalia in implementing its National Development Plan, by using innovation to turn development challenges into serious social and economic ventures.

Speaking at the opening day of the event, Abdi Dirshe, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning, Investment and Economic Development, welcomed the young people to the event on behalf of the Somali Federal Government. “This initiative will greatly contribute to the recovery and development of Somalia. We want to benefit from the skills and innovation of the Somali youth to address the challenges that are affecting our country,” he said.

UNDP Somalia Country Director, George Conway congratulated the Federal Government on its leadership in making the event happen. “These kind of processes must involve broad collaboration between the Federal Government, between civil society and between the private sector, to bring us all together and think through what we can do differently.”

“We need new thinking, new approaches to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and we rely on the youth of Somalia to articulate, bright, smart, new ideas that are bankable, that can create employment, that can help to reduce poverty in your country,” he said.

Participants in the social innovation camp will develop specific solutions to dairy industry challenges, which will then be reviewed, fine-tuned and developed into a business model and possible prototypes for pitching in the final round and to progress to the next level.  Such business ideas or prototypes might be the establishment of a new company, a new NGO, or expanding the work of existing organizations with a scale-up plan.  The core idea is that Somali challenges are tackled with Somali solutions, implemented by Somali people, and are locally owned and driven.

The successful team who enter the UNDP incubation programme will receive further mentoring and support to develop their business idea into a viable product or enterprise, and will go into a shortlist to receive financial support for their idea.

Contact information

Sherif El Tokali, UNDP Innovate for Somalia, Mobile: +252682207291

Selene Biffi, UNDP Project Manager, RE-INTEG and lead on Incubator Initiative, Email: Mobile: +252 0612 90105


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