Meet the five global winners of the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge

These bright young minds have what it takes to change the world.

Jacob Hunt
12 April 2019

It all started with a simple, powerful idea: what if we gave young people the chance to lead?

What if we stopped telling younger generations what’s best for them and actually stopped to listen?

We might discover that young people are the experts in their own lives and experiences. They know their biggest challenges. They have the ideas and talent to create solutions - if only we give them the chance.

The Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge was founded to do just that. It began with inspiring words at the United Nations General Assembly and came to life with bustling events across 16 countries from Vietnam to Nicaragua.

 

More than 800 young innovators had the bravery to speak up about the issues in their lives at national workshops. They teamed up to design creative new solutions for education, skills, empowerment and pathways to work. The very brightest ideas progressed to the international stage, where a diverse panel of expert judges had the very difficult task of selecting our five global winners.

The following teams will each receive mentoring and $20,000 in seed funding to take their ideas to the next level and make a bigger impact for their communities.

This is what Generation Unlimited is all about - working in partnership with young people, for young people

 

Fantastic Four: From detention to decent work in Thailand

Chonlachat (Mac), Pichitchai (Oat), Phanuwat (Ball) and Akarapol (Mee).

Members of Fantastic Four present their work in Thailand
UNICEF Thailand

The Fantastic Four has recently been in juvenile detention in Thailand but they are determined to move on as engaged and productive citizens, and to give others the same opportunity.

“There are millions of young people like us around the world who are repeat offenders because society does not accept us nor trust us,” they say. “Our project is to build a website to make it easier for these young people to access employment opportunities.”

The team has already gained support from the government, which has more than 300 businesses offering work to young people who have been in contact with the law.

"We can’t turn back the clock, we can’t fix our pasts, but we know what we can do for others from this moment on."

“We are proud of ourselves because even though we are young we are still trying to solve these big problems," says the team.

“Everyone makes mistakes, including all members in our team,” one member told us. “I once thought that there is no way I can be a good person but when I was given this opportunity and I took it, I changed my mind.”

“Today our team, the youth who once got on the wrong path and ended up in the juvenile detention centre, can prove to everyone that we can change ourselves and become an asset to society.”

 

AndroMeta: Speaking out against bullying in North Macedonia

Danche, Dario, Aleksandra, Matej and Amra.

Team AndroMeta gather around a computer.
UNICEF North Macedonia

This team was concerned that young people who experience bullying weren’t getting enough support, so they decided to do something about it.

“We wanted to give each other a safe space to express, ask questions and advice,” explains Aleksandra, 18.

AndroMeta is developing a new app called SpeakOut to help bullied youth in North Macedonia support each other and get expert advice. Their vision is to help victims who feel insecure, don't know who to tell or are afraid to speak out.

“Not everyone was convinced but I always said to myself: I believe in us, I believe in change."

- Danche, 18.

“It is so good that we can show what young people can do with a lot of hard work and positive energy," says Danche.

“Young people can make a difference,” assures 16-year-old Matej, a developer for the team. “If we can do it – everyone can!

 

Team Amigo: Bringing education to remote corners of Zimbabwe

Blessing, Brighton, Simbarashe and Farayi

Team Amigo huddle together at a table, looking at a phone.
UNICEF Zimbabwe

“We want to bring education to people’s homes - people who aren’t in school, people who dropped out, people who are in the rural areas,” says Brighton, 23.

His team is developing an app to give every student in Zimbabwe equal access to textbooks, tutorials and other learning materials.

“We are trying to bring everything educational to one central place and leverage technology so that it becomes accessible to everyone no matter how remote they are,” Bright explains. “This platform is a tremendous opportunity for us.”

As global winners of the Youth Challenge, the team is elated to receive support and put their plans into action. “We can’t believe this,” says Farayi, 23. “We just think we’re dreaming.”

 

Muntjatna: Taking young artisans to the global market

Alfadel, Manara and Yassin.

Three team members smile as they pose for a photo.
UNICEF Sudan

“Finally, our dream came true! We are so proud to help people in our community,” says Yassin, 23.

His team Muntjatna is creating an online platform to help displaced people in Sudan sell their handmade products internationally. The idea is to bring a new source of income to people who have been forced to flee from their homes and often end up working in brick kilns which harm their health, says the team.

“We must invest in youth because we are the future."

- Manara, 23

“It will help young people to avoid crimes and to have more time for education instead of working full time,” Manara, 23, told us. “It will help business to grow and help the community because no one buys from the camp.”

As global winners of the Youth Challenge, Muntjatna will receive funding to open a training centre for young women and grow their results in their community.

 

The Red Code: Menstrual health for women in Pakistan

Mahin, Sana and Sara

The Red Code team stand together
UNICEF Pakistan

Mahin, Sana and Sara are supporting better menstrual hygiene with information and sanitary pads for disadvantaged girls and women in Pakistan. They run awareness workshops and provide women with reusable, cloth pads which are stitched by home-based workers to support self-sustaining micro-entrepreneurship.

The Red Code is already making great progress with the community.

“Initially when we visited the women, they were very hesitant and even too shy to converse with us regarding menstruation,” says the team. “However, by the end of the distribution, they were narrating their stories, laughing, and sharing them with us.”

“We are a social enterprise created for women, by women.”

Now, winning the Youth Challenge will make an immense difference to their work.

“The funds and mentorship will enable us to increase the scale of our project and increase the number of women we would be reaching out to,” they told us.

“It feels absolutely surreal. We are extremely fortunate to be in that position of driving change and bringing a smile to the faces of these women.”
 

A bright start


The first Youth Challenge has come to an end but it is just the start of a journey for these five teams of incredible young change-makers.

The Generation Unlimited team is excited to support their work and we’re proud of every single person who chose to join the challenge and speak up for the future they want.

More than 800 bright young minds have proven they have what it takes to create a more prosperous and inclusive world for themselves, and for us all.