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And we are off! A short recap of day one of the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit

By Youth Co:Lab,

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation kicked off the third Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit today. An entirely virtual event this year which brings together young social entrepreneurs with incubators, accelerators, and investors to turn solutions into viable business models.


The Summit was opened by Kanni Wignaraja, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific of UNDP; Peter Babej, CEO of Citi Asia Pacific; and Lei Motilla, Co-Founder of AI4GOV.



“It is this belief in the ingenuity and energy of young people that inspired UNDP together with Citi Foundation to initiate Youth Co:Lab in 2017, to empower and invest in you, the young people of Asia-Pacific, to drive the accelerated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And it needs your enthusiastic leadership, can-do spirit and bold entrepreneurship,” said Kanni Wignaraja.



The first session, ‘Youth Voices on Embracing Diversity and Growing Inclusive Startups’, looked at how to support greater diversity and inclusion among young social entrepreneurs, as well as how to strengthen joint efforts to ensure no youth is left behind.


The discussion included Ms. Ms. Chandra Tripura, Youth Representative to the Executive Council of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Mr. Palis (Fresh) Pisuttisarun, Co-founder of Prism, and Ms. Zhaoyang Li, Chief Speech Language Pathologist at VoiBook, and was moderated by Ms. Ke Lin, Youth Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Consultant at the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub.


“If you don’t believe in your own idea, it is very hard for others to,” shared Fresh as he talked about the challenges that young entrepreneurs from or catering to marginalized groups face when trying to set up their business.



Over the break, a marketplace was opened to participants, where they had the opportunity to meet with young social entrepreneurs from across the Asia and Pacific and learn about their innovative ideas and solutions.


Next was a hotseat session focused on climate entrepreneurship, during this informal and interactive exchange a climate entrepreneur, Ms. Sadikshya Aryal, Co-founder, Himalayan Innovations from Nepal and an ecosystem enabler, Ms. Patsian Low: Chief of Staff, Executive Leader and Capacity-Builder for Social Economy, Venture Philanthropy and Non-profit Sector, AVPN, discussed the challenges and opportunities they have seen and experienced in the climate entrepreneurship ecosystem. The conversation was moderated by Mr. Chongguang Yu, Investment Appraisal Specialist, Nature, Climate and Energy at the UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub.


“As a young climate entrepreneur from the ecosystem we need such support as capacity building adapted to the specific local context and the support that can offer us provisions for education, training, networking and enhanced access to financing,” suggested Sadikshya Aryal.


Woven through the debates and discussions were musical performances by Hear and Found from Thailand and Hill Resource Centre from Bangladesh.

This segued into the principal feature of the Summit, the Youth Startup Showcase, opened by Daisuke Takatsuki, Principal, Asia Operations Team, CVC Capital Partners, who reflected on the role of ecosystem partners to strengthen the support for young innovators to address SDG challenges.


“The importance of building, nurturing, and expanding the ecosystem is of paramount importance, particularly during this global pandemic,” urged Daisuke Takatsuki.

This opened the floor to the first batch of young social entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and innovations. This first group all presented startup ideas that focused on climate action. Featured in this session were: Mr. Lin Hwang, Co-founder of DamoGo from South Korea; Mr. Robin Lewis, Co-founder of MyMizu from Japan; Ms. Sagufta Janif, Founder of The Fusion Hub from Fiji; Mr. Haaziq Ibrahim, Founder of DemiLaut from Malaysia; and Ms. Sothearath Sok, Founder of Junlen from Cambodia.


The day was closed by another group of young innovators, who all presented their solutions to address greater diversity and inclusion in our societies and communities. This particular session included: Mr. Felix Tan, Founder of Skilio from Singapore; Mr. Nofi Bayu Darmawan, Founder of Komerce from Indonesia; Mr. Napat Phanprasitthikit, Co-founder of Hint from Thailand; Mr. Eddie Li, Co-founder of Walking Partner Design Lab from Hong Kong S.A.R; and Ms. Aishath Ashfa, Founder of E’HEE from the Maldives.


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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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