In the midst of Samoa’s COVID-19 lockdown restrictions at the beginning of April, 10 young entrepreneurs were celebrated during a virtual graduation ceremony and prize giving at the completion of the 10-week Youth Incubator Programme. This was held under the United Nations Development Programme’s Circular Economy for the Recovery of Waste, or CERO Waste, Project.
Implemented by the Samoa Business Hub, the Youth Incubator Programme addressed one of the project’s key focus areas, which was to create an enabling environment that accelerates circular waste management by strengthening local capacity and knowledge to provide innovative solutions for waste recovery.
“CERO Waste recognizes youth, and in particular young women, as agents of change. It promotes gender equality and women-led projects, given the significant role of women in advancing the circular economy movement at all levels,” said Verena Linneweber, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.
Through a series of business development trainings, networking opportunities, mentoring and business coaching, as well as conducting site visits to local businesses in the waste management and recycling industries, the programme ended with a pitching competition, showcasing a variety of business innovations presented by the young entrepreneurs.
Alamita Pereira, who pitched “EcoPact” active wear using recycled plastic yarn, was awarded the top prize for her business pitch.
In receiving her award, Alamita thanked the Samoa Business Hub and UNDP for the invaluable knowledge and skills learnt to develop her business idea. She also spoke about the value of networking with other participants and being able to collaborate and share ideas in their hopes to make a difference and promote change in Samoa.
The young entrepreneurs awarded include:
· Cedric Vaifale – Recycled Scrap Metal
· Talisua Ngg Cho – Customized and Recyclable Diapers
· Lolesi Muagututia – Soil Quality Protection
· Mario Guevara – Plastic Recycle Solutions Samoa, Recycling and Education
· Felicity Passi – Plastic Strips for Weaving
· Jimmy Leausa – Plastic Recycle Solutions, Recycling and Education
· Ritz Wulf Maiava – Rags to Riches
· Therese Rivers – Baking through improved environmental practices
· Alec Latu – LED Lights
Vaitulia Alatina Ioelu, the Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Business Hub congratulated the participants on their participation and initiative.
“Thank you for being part of the solution, for your persistence and perseverance throughout this programme. We are counting on you as you venture on to make a substantial impact in our communities”.
Vaitulia also acknowledged the panel of judges: Asuao Malaki Iakopo, Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Water Resources Division of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Lemauga Hobart Vaai, Chief Executive Officer of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Christina Mualia-Lima, Assistant Resident Representative of UNDP.
UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative, Verena Linneweber, also acknowledged the efforts of the Samoa Business Hub as the key implementing partner for this project. “UNDP values the opportunity to collaborate with local partners and we look forward to more opportunities in the future”.