African youth-led innovations secure funding to transform adolescent mental and reproductive health at Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2023
Nairobi, Kenya 11th Dec 2023: AfriLabs, in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), participated at the Youth Connekt Africa (YCA) Summit 2023, held from December 8th to 12th in Nairobi, Kenya.
The annual summit centered around the theme “Youth Innovating a Borderless African Renaissance” offered a platform for policy discussions, storytelling, networking, and entrepreneur-focused programs, including a marketplace and investor meetings.
In pushing for the advocacy on Mental Health and Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (ASRHR), Afrilabs and UNFPA launched a project in July 2024 that seeks to address the interconnected challenges of mental health and ASRHR.
Afrilabs organised a pitch competition event at the YCA summit and thus showcasing the two winners and overall outcomes of the hacklab at the Summit. Ten finalists drawn from Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda competed for the top prize at the pitch event held on the sidelines of the Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2023.
The innovative solutions presented at the Summit stemmed from a 3-day online bootcamp organized by Afrilabs in October.
Two Remarkable solutions emerged from young innovators across the continent, proposing novel approaches to positively impact the lives of adolescents and youth in the fields of mental health and reproductive health.
A rigorous evaluation process, led by a jury featuring representatives from AfriLabs’ network of experts, culminated in the selection of two winning solutions. These outstanding projects not only secured $20,000 each in scale funding but also earned exclusive business incubation support that will be facilitated by Afrilabs through their extensive network of innovation hubs.
Standing at the forefront of empowerment through digital media, Selma Ndasilohenda Iyambo from Namibia claimed the top spot with her groundbreaking youth podcast. Delving into the realms of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and mental health, the podcast also serves as a powerful tool for uplifting young mothers and fostering community impact.
On the heels of this achievement, Tilitonse Concept, led by Tapiwa Penama from Malawi, emerged as the second-place winner. Functioning as a comprehensive hub, it empowers the youth residing in Malawi’s Dzaleka camp with valuable insights into mental health and crucial Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (#SRHR) choices.
Together, these innovative solutions embody a vision for positive change, demonstrating the transformative potential inherent in forward-thinking initiatives.
In closing, the Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2023 has not only been a gathering of minds but a testament to the resilience and creativity of Africa’s youth.
Afrilabs, in partnership with UNFPA, has spearheaded initiatives that address critical aspects of adolescent health, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of innovation. The winning solutions, forged through collaboration and determination, pave the way for positive change, echoing the potential of technology and creativity to transform lives. As we reflect on this summit, let it be a reminder that the journey towards a brighter, healthier future is powered by the ingenuity and passion of the continent’s youth, whose ideas continue to shape the trajectory of Africa’s progress.
Over the last 2 years of collaboration between AfriLabs and UNFPA over 200k USD has been given to over 9 innovators turned startups to scale their efforts in fighting against harmful practices through establishment of social impact businesses.
For more information on our participation at the Youth Connekt Africa Summit 2023 – Mental Health and ASRHR Hacklab Final Pitching please contact baluku(@)afrilabs.com.