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Blogs and Op-Eds by the Youth Co:lab team and contributors from our extensive network of changemakers. 

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A movement to meet a moment – A short recap of day two of the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit

By Youth Co:Lab

The second day of the virtual Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit, co-organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, started off with a recap of the first day and then continued with more engaging discussions, conversations and exchanges between young social entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators, and investors.

The first session of the day looked at how to unlock the power of women entrepreneurs. The session itself gave the floor to young female entrepreneurs, Ms. Esmeralda Lo Tam, Founder of EI8HT SPORTS and EI8HT GOALS from Samoa; and Ms. Thùy Anh Ngô, Founder and CEO of HASU from Viet Nam, who shared about their personal experiences of barriers and enablers to entrepreneurship.

And ecosystem partners, Ms. Fai Wechayachai, East and Southeast Asia Regional Chapter Manager at ANDE; and Ms. Ingrid D’Lima, Head of Campus Recruitment and Employer Brand for Citi Asia Pacific, who shared their insights on what works to make entrepreneurship more gender-inclusive. The session was moderated by Ms. Shannon Kalayanamitr, Advisor Gobi Partners and CEO IKIGAI group.

‘One of the biggest problems is that we do not have the confidence to think we can do this,’ reflected Shannon Kalayanamitr, ‘while another big barrier is to shift the stereotype of what a woman should be and what an entrepreneur should be.’

After the initial discussion, Ms. Allison Morris, Consultant, Adolescent Development & Participation for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office presented new research, commissioned by UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office and UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub under the Youth Co:Lab initiative, on ‘Addressing Gender Barriers to Entrepreneurship and Leadership among Girls and Young Women in South-East Asia’.

‘One of the things that has really helped me through the years is mentorship,’ shared Esmeralda Lo Tam, ‘And one particular piece of advice that I remember was to not see small or large businesses, but to see ideas. And that is what makes working with entrepreneurs so exciting, because their ideas are always innovative and original.’

During the following break participants had the opportunity to directly engage with young social entrepreneurs that have been involved with the Youth Co:Lab programme in a virtual marketplace.

Building on day one of the Summit, the continuation of the Youth Startup Showcase opened with Ms. Amra Naidoo, Co-founder and General Partner at Accelerating Asia Ventures.

‘We know how difficult it is to start something, let alone keep it sustained and grow it,’ said Amra Naidoo, ‘And we recognize that most early-stage startups, who are ready to take it to the next level and grow their impact need access to a network of investors, partners and fellow founders.’

Next the Regional Demo Day Showcasing put the spotlight on Youth Co:Lab alumni and the impact they have created so far. The session included presentations from: Mr. Fahad Ifaz, Co-founder of iFarmer from Bangladesh; Reyasat Chowdhury, Co-founder of Shuttle from Bangladesh; Mr. Ali Shabbar and Mr. Wamiq Hasan, Founders of DeafTawk from Pakistan; Mr. Tanzin Shadid, Co-founder of AmarLab from Bangladesh; and Mr. Abrahim Ali Shah, Co-founder of Mobiliti from Pakistan.

Once again the flow of innovative and inspiring ideas was enriched by musical performances by the Tuyang Initiative from Malaysia and Hear and Found from Thailand.

The final round of showcasing centered on social entrepreneurs who focus on women empowerment and included: Mr. Jalalodin Mustari, Founder of Aretes Style from the Philippines; Ms. Divya Rathod, Founder of SilveryNanos “HAPITO” from India; Ms. Chenyu Zeng, Co-founder of Clear Plate from China; Ms. Khoirun Mumpuni, Founder of Kitong Bisa from Indonesia; and Ms. Laraib Abid, Founder of Flare of MASHAL from Pakistan.

The day continued with a conversation between aspiring entrepreneurs of the Movers Programme, which included Ms. Iris Pi from China, Mr. Alfredo Lorenzo Sablay from the Philippines, and Mr. Zawad Alam from Bangladesh, who were moderated by Ms. Li Shi, Youth Community Engagement Assistant, of UNDP China.

‘We do not need to be entrepreneurs to be entrepreneurial. A social entrepreneur is someone who pursues innovative strategies that have the potential to solve community-based problems,’ confirmed Lorenzo Sablay.

The Summit closed with reflections three key stakeholders of Youth Co:Lab: Mr. Christophe Bahuet, Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and Director of the Bangkok Regional Hub of UNDP; Mr. Richard Tesvich, Head of Public Affairs for Citi Asia Pacific; and Ms. Shiropa Tawhida, Founder, of Moner Bondhu from Bangladesh.

‘As we celebrate young entrepreneurs’ agility and resilience in these unprecedented times, we must step up our support to young people. Their ideas and development solutions can transform our journey from COVID recovery towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,’ said Christophe Bahuet.

'By supporting social entrepreneurs like us, you join a movement that is bringing about meaningful change across the world,' closed Tawhida Shiropa, ‘to bring prosperity to all peoples and to protect our plant.’


Co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab establishes a common agenda for countries in Asia-Pacific 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. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.

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