Youth-led startups showcase sustainable development solutions at the Youth Social Innovation Lab (YSIL) 2023 Demo Day

April 21, 2024


The Demo Day of the Youth Social Innovation Lab (YSIL) 2023 organized by Youth Co:Lab in the Philippines brought together 41 young entrepreneurs, industry experts, ecosystem enablers, mentors, and partners to harness and further develop innovative ideas and solutions of young entrepreneurs.

As a culminating activity of a three-month Incubation Programme, on 26 January 2024, six social enterprises who stood out from a 20 cohort, namely CapilliIndieCoPhilip-AnabanGro Up: A Card GameREPAMANA, and Bakás Apparel, had the exciting opportunity to pitch and showcase their solutions. 

From 2017-2022, YSIL has been a strategic platform, engaging over 250 young people, almost half of whom were from underrepresented sectors. Through this initiative, Youth Co:Lab, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, had brought together young innovators in the Philippines who are making headway towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through entrepreneurship. The initiative has paved the way for new networks, life-long connections, and further opportunities for impact. 

This year's YSIL was designed to be a more enriching experience, allowing participants to hone their entrepreneurial skills, practice and implement tools in their social enterprise, and gather comprehensive feedback from mentors and industry experts while refining their business models. These young minds participated in nine module sessions revolving around the SDGs, Business Development, Finance, Marketing, Organizational Management, and Design Thinking.

Selva Ramanchandran, Resident Representative at UNDP Philippines expressed, “To the youth, I urge you to be proactive, resilient, and persistent on your entrepreneurial journey. Make your voices heard, take up space, and explore the multitude of opportunities. This endeavour will be challenging, but it will also be rewarding. UNDP remains steadfast in its commitment to youth empowerment, the advancement of action plans for youth, and the strengthening of youth entrepreneurial communities. Together, let us forge a future where the entrepreneurial spirit of our youth thrives, making meaningful contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Alessandra Gutierrez, founder of REPAMANA and YSIL 2023 graduate, voiced her sentiments, “It's truly motivating to witness fellow women entrepreneurs flourishing across diverse fields such as technology, agriculture, fashion, and more. With opportunities and a supportive environment, women founders can excel, and for me, YSIL 2023 provided precisely that nurturing space.

Recognizing the pivotal role young entrepreneurs play as agents of positive change, it's imperative to underscore the significance of supporting them. With around 30% of the Philippines' population comprising young individuals, their potential for driving societal progress is undeniable.

“Citi and the Citi Foundation support initiatives that help the youth develop solutions to the biggest social challenges impacting their communities, and meet the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Paul Favila, CEO of Citi Philippines. “As a global bank we play a role in helping address society's greatest challenges and our youth participants have given us a clear picture of the world they want to live in. We hope to do our part in making this a reality. We are inspired by their passion and commitment in taking those steps towards a more sustainable future for all.”

Reuel Ruiz Jr., one of YSIL 2023’s mentors and Planning and Programs Division Head of the Local Economic and Investment Promotions Office of the Quezon City Government, shared, “The energy at the event was electric, buzzing with innovative ideas from young social entrepreneurs tackling real-world issues. Witnessing their passion and creativity firsthand gave me hope for the future. The event was so well-organized, with insightful feedback from fellow mentors, experts, and opportunities to connect with like-minded changemakers.

YSIL aims to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem by creating an environment where aspiring entrepreneurs are supported, encouraged, and provided with the resources they need to thrive and nurture innovation and startup growth.


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About Youth Co:Lab  

Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (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. Learn more at or follow @youthcolab


About Citi Foundation  

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant communities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy'' approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit


About UNDP 

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. Learn more at or follow @UNDPPH


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UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow at @UNDPPH.