Investing in Innovators to Unlock Limitless Opportunities

June 18, 2024

Some innovators engaged in an excercise during their breakout sessions

“For the first time, I have a clear direction for my innovation. I learned how to approach problems in a structured way and set achievable goals to help grow my innovation”, said Mark Sarfo, participant from the Young Africa Innovates (YAI) programme pilot bootcamp.

Mark is a young Ghanaian innovator who is passionate about finding solutions to tackle challenges in his community in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. But, like many others, he faced a major hurdle - lack of guidance and support- until he joined the Young Africa Innovates (YAI) programme.

“The bootcamp connected me to great experts who have given me the tools and confidence to turn my ideas into reality, and I’m excited as this will greatly impact my business and help me make a meaningful difference in my community” Mark added.

Mark Sarfo, sharing his experience during the pilot bootcamp

The YAI programme aims to empower marginalized youth, especially women, persons living in rural communities, and persons with disabilities, to turn their ideas into reality.

Through the YAI pilot bootcamp organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana, the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), and other partners, Mark including other innovators gained access to expert training and mentorship. He learned how to refine his innovation and build a successful business.

Addressing the innovators during the pilot bootcamp, the YAI Programme Chief Technical Advisor, Allen Anie, stated that “At UNDP, we believe that every young person has the potential to drive positive change, regardless of their gender, location, or background. That is why the YAI programme is designed to support those who are marginalized and provide them with the resources and support they need to succeed”, he stated.

Allen Anie, Chief Technical Advisor delivering his remarks

Lydia Takyi, an Entrepreneurship/Career and Employability Coach at the pilot bootcamp shares her excitement as she reflected on the innovators' progress, saying, “I was happy to see how quickly they grabbed the concepts and adapted to the design thinking approach. Their ability to think creatively, and develop innovative solutions was truly impressive. It's clear that these young innovators have the potential to drive meaningful change in their communities and beyond”, Lydia expressed.

Standing to the left is Lydia Takyi, an Entrepreneurship/Career and Employability Coach, in an interactive session with some of the innovators

Director of Business Support and Policy at National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), Franklin Owusu-Karikari noted that, “Unlocking the potential of young innovators is crucial for Ghana's economic growth and development, and NEIP remains committed to working with its partners to provide the necessary support and resources to help the innovators succeed.

Franklin Owusu-Karikari, delivering his remarks

With the support of UNDP and the Mastercard Foundation, YAI is paving the way for a brighter future for Ghana's youth, providing a platform for innovators like Mark to thrive.

As the bootcamps progress, the stories and successes of these young innovators will continue to be shared, highlighting the transformative power of inclusive innovation. Stay tuned for more updates and inspiring stories from the Young Africa Innovates programme.

Group photo of participants from the YAI pilot bootcamp