Co-creating Solutions with youth: engaging with the leading force

January 16, 2020

By Netsanet Mekuria, Head of Exploration at Goh Lab Ethiopia

During the holiday season, UNDP, through its Goh accelerator lab, partnered with ICE Addis, an leading innovation lab in Ethiopia, to provide a platform for university students from across Ethiopia to come together for a bootcamp and brainstorm on possible solutions to tackle the issue of youth unemployment . This engagement followed a  our call to solicit interest in taking part in this exciting initiative.  

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the purpose of the session was to co-create and design prototype solutions to tackle youth unemployment with the Goh lab team for further experimentation in problem-solving methodology.

When I join them in this sprint, the students were curious and eager to learn about the process and what they will do. 

We at the Goh lab team treated this boot camp as a human-centre-design initiative to identify a more specific type of value-based collaboration between the youth and us, to co-construct the experience to suit their context and developed a clear agenda with precise activities and deliverables.

In other words, it was an opportunity to practice what we preach.

Thinking for two days

Our day starts through grouping ourselves into five with categories of a developer, designer, business and others to create close collaboration since it is the main factor of determining the success of our design sprint.

From the two-day sprint, we have learned that most of their solution is more on the creation of a platform for skill development on entrepreneurship before they join the labour market, share their innovative ideas from different perspectives and financial inclusion for youth. As evidence, even if we have five different prototypes, all of them were focused on seeking information on what is happening on the labour market, who is doing what, in which platform that can share their innovative ideas and get validation and where to go for financing. 

Upon validation of the solutions, the concepts were categorized into five Demos development;

I)      Mefitehe; investment pitch where investors pitch challenge to youth and they compete to solve the challenge in public media

II)    Cassiopia: A university-based initiative that the students project to be converted into a viable business in a student club format

III)  Let’s meet: connecting youth with professionals to solve complex problems through trust-based collaboration

IV) Voice app: policy and advocacy platform using blockchain

V)   Idea Bank: Public deliberation platform to rank and validate proposed ideas before implementation

Who is out there?

Inspired by the youth and their solution, the Goh lab team started mapping the stakeholders who are the ecosystem builders. We have organized them into categories of HUBs, Network, Academia (with incubation centre or innovation lab), Venture Capital, Federal Government agencies, Development Agencies (bilateral, UN agencies etc.), Regional Government agencies, NGO, Association, Financial sector and Social Enterprise.

Innovation ecosystem builder map by Goh lab team

Through exploring the power of networks as a strategy for achieving the change, we aspire to catalyze action by knitting bonds between a diverse range of players, building on each other’s resources, ideas, expertise, and initiative.

Our biggest lessons from this exercise are that there are different opportunities out there which youths are not exposed for that creates frustration among them. We need to be more creative and curious about how to reach them and highlight the opportunities out there.

Therefore, the lab team have finalized the first stage of Mapping the innovation ecosystem. But still, We feel like there are more stakeholders out there and we want to reach out to the public for crowdsourcing this information. 

We hope you all will take some of your precious time and contribute to the ecosystem map through following this link and help us to find out more about who is out there and doing what to make it publicly available.

To share your insights more, Contact Ethiopia Accelerator Lab team: