39 Youth-led enterprises from across Asia & the Pacific build solutions for human mobility

August 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines -- Over 100 young innovators participated in the first-ever Human Mobility Innovation Challenge - an online hackathon held from  July 5-13, 2021 that supported 39 social enterprises from all across Asia and the Pacific in conceptualizing solutions to help migrants, stateless persons, refugees, internally displaced people, and their host communities. The event was led by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Youth Co:Lab and Human Mobility teams, in partnership with Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN), International Organization for Migration (IOM), makesense, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) and United Nations Human Settlement Programme (UN-Habitat).

From the 39 enterprises that participated in the event, 5 of the best solutions were selected to receive funding and additional mentorship opportunities to pilot their ideas. Selection of the 5 best solutions was done by Carlos Hechanova, Executive Director of makesense Philippines; Sebastian Boll, Migration and Displacement Specialist at UNDP in Asia-Pacific; Aileen Constantino-Peñas, Executive Director of Atikha Incorporated; and Annie Jiang, Regional Labour Mobility and Human Development Officer at IOM in Asia-Pacific.

The winning pitch came from Borneo Komrad, an enterprise working with stateless people in Malaysia and investing profits into educational opportunities for stateless children. The other solutions that made it to the top 5 were Peacebuilding Project, an initiative supporting the livelihoods of Afghan women-refugees in India through developing and selling eco-friendly sanitary products; Garbageman, an enterprise improving the socio-economic conditions of waste handlers and scrap dealers in Bangladesh; Project Kanlong, an initiative providing micro-mobile housing units for homeless populations in the Philippines; and Liberty Society, a fashion brand training and employing refugee women to produce and sell eco-friendly lifestyle goods in Indonesia.

Nella Primalia, one of the participants of the innovation challenge representing a social enterprise called Refutera, shared that the innovation challenge was able to help her and her team further build her social enterprise.

“We are so grateful for this event. Thank you for everything that has been done to help us build our social enterprise. The event was so organized and the flow of everything was very smooth”, she shared.

Enrico Gaveglia, (former) Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Philippines, reinforced the importance of working on human mobility issues by saying, “we also saw a very different trend in human mobility - the one that starts from within, with personal growth and connectivity of social experience online. Let us, though, pause in reflection for those who are away from digital highways, forced to dislodge by fragile democracies, political oppression, or climate emergency. And let’s work to give them the right to choose the path they want.” He shared this message to close the event and to challenge all 39 social enterprises to continue working on their solutions.

UNDP Youth Co:Lab’s Philippines team will be organizing two more social entrepreneurship hackathons this year: one hackathon for social entrepreneurs from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and another national-level hackathon for social entrepreneurs from across the country. Sign-ups for the two hackathons will be released in September and October this year.

Co-created in 2017 by the UNDP and Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region 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. By developing 21st century skills, catalyzing and sustaining youth-led startups and social enterprises across the region, Youth Co:Lab is positioning young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges.