International Youth Day: Government of Karnataka, KSDC, UNDP India and SAP Labs India award 15 innovative youth driven start-ups with seed money and mentorship

August 12, 2022

Young entrepreneurs showcased innovations such as technology to convert any cycle into a solar powered bicycle

UNDP India

August 12, 2022, Bengaluru:  To mark International Youth Day, the Government of Karnataka and Karnataka Skill Development Council (KSDC), in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) India and SAP Labs India, awarded 15 young entrepreneurs with seed money to scale their start-ups.

The event, organised at the Karnataka Vikasa Soudha, was chaired by Dr. S Selvakumar, IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood and Department of Education, Mr. Ashwin Gowda, IRS, Managing Director, KSDC, Government of Karnataka, Mr. Mohammed Anzy S., Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India, Mr. Gunjan Patel, Regional Director - CSR, Asia Pacific, and Japan SAP Labs India and Mr. Jeya Chandran, State Project Head, UNDP.

The seed money distribution was a part of the culmination of the Youth Innovation Challenge launched earlier this year. Over 3,000 youth applied to the call for applications. In July, five winners were selected from each district after rigorous selection rounds by a panel of judges from industry sectors, investors, academia, and district-level government officials. The 15 winners were selected based on their performance in UNDP’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme and the merit of their business pitch. Today, they received seed money of up to Rs 1 lakh each, along with mentorship and handholding support for six months from implementing partners.

Dr. S Selvakumar IAS, Principal Sectary to Government of Karnataka said, “The Government of Karnataka has set up the Skill Development, Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Department (SDEL) to help Karnataka’s youth acquire skills and expertise to boost their employability. KSDC in collaboration with project Code Unnati aims to take a holistic skilling approach and has designed and standardised curricula to support youth in key focus areas such as career guidance, counselling, 21st century skills and entrepreneurship. The initiative also aligns with the objectives of the Mission Yuva Samruddhi (Karnataka Skills & Entrepreneurship Task Force). Code Unnati team is working closely with KSDC for the institutional implementation of the same at the state and district level.”

Since 2020, UNDP India and SAP Labs India have been working together to boost youth innovation and entrepreneurship under its project Code Unnati. The project aims to improve access to entrepreneurship and employment opportunities for 20,000 youth and 5,000 women across three districts of Karnataka — Bengaluru Rural, Dakshina Kannada, and Raichur.

"India's youth has immense potential that governments and institutions should nurture. Through project Code Unnati, UNDP, along with KSDC and SAP Labs India, have enabled young entrepreneurs to hone their business skills. My congratulations to the 15 winners for their innovations. I am confident the seed money will help them scale their innovative solutions to solve some pressing issues in their communities around renewable energy, health, nutrition, and agriculture, among others," said Ms. Shoko Noda, UNDP Resident Representative.

The winning start-ups address a wide array of solutions from agriculture to nutrition to mobility which is critical to realising sustainable and inclusive development in a post-COVID world. These include — a solar energy-run bicycle, an affordable eggshell-based nutrition option to tackle protein deficiency, an app that helps detect crop disease and treatment, and an eco-friendly face mask — confronting several modern-day challenges.

“It’s exciting to see the winning start-ups leverage the power of technology to address a wide array of grassroot problems with their distinctive products and solutions. We, at SAP Labs India, are thrilled at the opportunity to fuel entrepreneurship culture among the youth of Karnataka through the Code Unnati programme in partnership with UNDP and Govt of Karnataka. Over the last two years, our efforts have been aimed at propelling inclusive and equitable economic development especially among rural youth and women by facilitating improved access to career guidance, employment, entrepreneurship opportunities, and fostering 21st-century skills. On the occasion of International Youth Day, it is deeply gratifying to see the impact Code Unnati programme has created to empower women and youth in the state,” said Ms. Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India.

One of the winners, Ms. Reena Edna D Souza, a 27-year-old social entrepreneur from Dakshin Kannada who majored in social work, said, “When I first attended UNDP India’s Entrepreneurship Development Programme, it inspired me to become an entrepreneur. I would see the pollution created by use-and-throw masks and feel a pang of guilt. I am grateful to the Code Unnati team and KSDC for giving me the seed money to create my own environmentally friendly seed masks. For every mask thrown, a tree will rise”.

About UNDP India

UNDP has worked in India since 1951 in almost all areas of human development, from systems strengthening to inclusive growth and sustainable livelihoods and sustainable energy, environment, and resilience. UNDP's programmes continue to integrate a global vision for catalytic change with India's national priorities. Today, with over 30 projects on the ground in almost every state, it works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by transforming traditional models to do development differently.

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Communications Officer, UNDP India