By Tatenda Mujeyi
The Youth Connekt Start-Up Bus is bringing together partners to help empower the continent’s youths to play a meaningful role in the development of their respective countries and continent as a whole.
The Youth Connekt initiative is currently being piloted in Zimbabwe, by a partnership led by the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation (MoYSAR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The pilot is focusing on skills development, entrepreneurship training, dialogue, networking and mentorship, with the ultimate goal of connecting youth to opportunities and to stakeholders.
The Start-Up Tour Bus is the first initiative that has been launched under the Youth Connekt Zimbabwe banner, providing an opportunity for young innovators and entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-35 to get business training and to enter their start-up businesses into a competition, with a $5000 (USD) prize per Province.
“The bus is just one component of the broader youth connect program. This is a youth empowerment, entrepreneurial and skills development initiative of the UNDP centralising on three fundamentals: entrepreneurship, skills development and dialogue and connection. This program was started by the Rwandan government,” Ethel Bangwayo the UNDP National Economist said.
The program started earlier this month and has been done in seven provinces with one final youthful entrepreneur set to proceed to the interprovincial finale.
“After day 1 of the provincial program, Youth Connect partners shall evaluate 20 selected and pre-registered elevator pitches and determine a shortlist of 10 who will proceed to the Provincial pitching competition on day 2. The winner on day 2 (provincial winner) will proceed to the national finals which will be conducted in Harare on the 6th of September,” Bangwayo said.
Program partners emphasised their continued contribution to the improvement of the welfare of the youth and to work towards poverty alleviation. Econet Wireless Zimbabwe reiterated its support for the program.
“As Econet we are ever aligned to the idea of facilitating improvement of the youth. Our Elevate product is a youth specific Initiative that seeks improvement of the youths under its four products ‘Mix n Match’, ‘Spin and Shuffle’, ‘Rise and Shine’, ‘Learn and Grow’,” Econet Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Fayaz King said at the session.
Voluntary Services Organisation (VSO) Representative Naome Matora echoed Mr. Fayaz’s sentiments and said her organization is passionate about engaging youths on issues that improve their social conditions by dedicating their skills and time for the good of the youths. She said the greater achievements could be achieved through volunteering.
The tour bus training and pitch also offered training for youths on key issues of business.
“The initiative to start a business is a serious call that young people should really consider so as to avoid failing. Key areas where youth businesses fail in are activities, resources, value proposition, customer relationship, channels, costs, revenues and partners,” Micah Foundation representative Pedzisai Chimbwanda said.
The tour bus tour is bieng run by UNDP in partnership with Steward Bank, Elevate, HigherLife Foundation, Impact Hub and the Zimbabwe youth Council.