It has emerged that eight dynamic African young women-led businesses have become winners of the 2023 YouthAdapt challenge.
A statement issued by the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Tuesday in Abuja said each business would receive grant funding of up to 100,000 dollars.
It said the award was presented on the sidelines of the ongoing COP28 in Dubai.
The statement said each participant would also receive a comprehensive mentorship and coaching as part of a 12-month accelerator programme.
BRANDPOWER reports that since its inauguration in 2021, the YouthADAPT initiative has provided more than five million dollars to 33 young entrepreneurs from 19 African nations.
The initiative was jointly organised by the AfDB Group and the Global Centre on Adaptation, with support by the Africa Climate Change Fund.
YouthADAPT is an annual competition for young entrepreneurs leading micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in Africa with innovative climate change adaptation solutions.
According to the statement, this year’s focus is on female-owned enterprises pioneering Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics.
It said others were virtual reality, robotics, Internet of Things, quantum computing, additive manufacturing, blockchain, and fifth-generation wireless for climate adaptation.
The AfDB President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina emphasised the importance of harnessing youth ideas and creativity to enhance livelihoods and national prosperity.
“The Jobs for Youth in Africa and the Skills Employability initiatives at the Bank stand as a testament to our commitment.
”We aim to create 25 million jobs for our youth, ensuring that 250 million individuals find their path to the labour market.
”The Youth ADAPT initiative, therefore, is a pledge to invest in the youth and shape a thriving future.”
Prof. Patrick Verkooijen, the Chief Executive Officer of the Global Centre on Adaptation, stressed the need to nurture Africa’s youth talent.
“Young people hold the key to unlocking Africa’s economic potential. Through initiatives like the YouthADAPT awards, we provide opportunities for training and jobs to retain African talents at home,” he said.
During a panel discussion, Cheryl Urban, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Sub-Saharan Africa, spoke about the critical role of development finance institutions can play.
“The AfDB’s YouthADAPT programme provides crucial support in scaling up youth-led climate businesses and innovations in Africa. Canada is proud of being a contributor to the initiative,” Urban said.
Dr Beth Dunford, the AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, stressed the importance of supporting entrepreneurs tackling climate change.
She also emphasised the need to remove barriers to finance, particularly for women.
The African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, underscored the need to foster effective information-sharing mechanisms across regions.
Lucy Wangari, one of this year’s award recipients from Onion Doctor, a firm specialised in monitoring onion growth, said the award would motivates her to do more.
“It serves as a significant driver in scaling (our) innovative solution to boost local onion production by 20 per cent and transform the onion value chain into a lucrative employment source for farmers in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid Lands.”
Past winners shared experiences about how the grant empowered their ventures.
Fela Akinse, the Chief Executive Officer of Salubata business, converting plastic waste into affordable footwear, said the grant helped them expand, innovate to clean technologies and generate global impact.
The winning ventures, led by women from across Africa, focused on sectors affected by climate change: agriculture, energy efficiency, disaster risk management, water resources, and biodiversity conservation.