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YBI launches Innovation Challenge to unlock new solutions in youth entrepreneurship

Catalin Parascan
Catalin Parascan    

We are pleased to announce today the launch of our first ever Innovation Challenge, a pilot initiative aimed at supporting our members to ideate and test new solutions and to develop new digital and cutting-edge products and services that meet the pressing challenges faced by young entrepreneurs worldwide.

Organised by YBI, and supported by Accenture and the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Innovation Challenge invites YBI members to propose new ways they can improve the support services offered to young entrepreneurs in four areas: mentoring, training, access to finance and access to markets. The two winning ideas will be awarded with a cash grant of $40,000 and expert support from Bob Dorf, one of the most knowledgeable Lean Innovative and Customer Development experts in the world.

Context and motivation

We are thrilled to be working with Accenture and the Multilateral Investment Fund on the first ever YBI Innovation Challenge. Initiatives like these are hugely important for our members, not only in strengthening the culture of innovation in our network but also encouraging them to develop new products and services and adapted to the ever-changing world of work” - Anita Tiessen, Chief Executive Officer at YBI.

Young people are, and always will be, critical to future economic development. However, with 71 million young people currently unemployed globally, this potential is not realised and in a rapidly evolving economic environment, the very future of work appears to be changing. Supporting young people to become entrepreneurs, think entrepreneurially and acquire entrepreneurial skills is a powerful way to respond to these challenges. Against the background of high levels of youth unemployment and the changing world of work, the quality support (business skills, mentoring, and finance) our members provide to young entrepreneurs must be adapted to meet the pressing challenges faced by youth. In order for YBI members to continue to stay relevant and thrive in their space, they need to continue to innovate their services and products, thus embracing a culture of innovation.

Our long-term vision is to support our member organisations in the different stages of innovation, from investigation of a challenge faced by young entrepreneurs, to scaling successful products and services. This pilot, a minimum viable product itself, will lay the foundations for future challenges and will provide a test bed for what works and what doesn’t in supporting the creation of ground breaking products and services across the network.

“Since innovation is at the heart of what Accenture brings its clients, we’re delighted to be part of YBI’s inaugural Innovation Challenge,” said Jill Huntley, Accenture’s global managing director for corporate citizenship. “As a longtime partner of YBI through our Skills to Succeed initiative, we know firsthand about the important role they play in helping young people become successful entrepreneurs.”

“The Multilateral Investment Fund is delighted to be a part of this initiative and we are confident that the Innovation Challenge will give a concrete push to innovation and spur the creation of new solutions that tackle youth unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean.” - Maritza Vela, Project Specialist, Multilateral Investment Fund of Inter-American Development Bank

 How will it work

YBI members are invited to submit applications regarding innovations in mentoring, entrepreneurship training, access to finance and access to markets. Two winning ideas (one chosen from Latin America and the Caribbean) will be selected and each winner will receive:

  • USD $40,000 cash grant to test their idea and develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • 12 hours of consultancy to support the winners and guarantee adherence to User Centred Design (UCD) or a similar approach

Applicants will be judged based on:

  • Problem validation – the level of understanding of the end beneficiaries, their needs and desires, and proof of validation of the problem the project is trying to address;
  • Compelling solution – the uniqueness and innovativeness of the solution;
  • Viability of implementation - the knowledge and capability of the team implementing the project and the technical feasibility of the solution proposed
  • Sustainability and scalability - the ability of the organisation to take the project forward and scale it after the implementation phase

The deadline for entries is 24th June 2018 at 23:59 (GMT). The initiative is open to all unconditionally accredited and pre-accredited members of the YBI network and there is no limit to the number of applications each member can send. Participating organisations must be able to implement the project between September and November 2018 and be able to report their results between October 2018 and January 2019. Ten entries to the Innovation Challenge will be shortlisted in the final phase of the selection process and evaluated by an expert panel comprised of YBI partners, supporters and experts in the field of innovation. The decision of the panel will represent 50% of the applicant's final score while the other 50% will be decided through member voting. The two winners of the Innovation Challenge will be announced in August 2018.

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