Meet the winners of the second GenU Youth Challenge 2019/20

This initiative is organized by Generation Unlimited, UNICEF, UNDP, Plan International, and the Scouts

Hana Sahatqija and Mari-Lisa Njenga
11 December 2020

It all started with the winners of the first Youth Challenge! The 5 winning teams announced last year generated huge waves of excitement, inspiration, and enthusiasm well beyond the 16 countries that initially participated in the Youth Challenge. Suddenly, not only did young people all over the world want the same immersive and fun experience, they also demanded the skills to solve community-based issues and the possibility to have their innovative ideas be supported through seed funding, mentorship by some of the brightest minds out there and networks that expand horizons.

And so, the second Youth Challenge was born! The same level of enthusiasm affected many of GenU’s partners, and thus, UNICEF, UNDP, Plan International, and the Scouts joined forces at the global level, to direct and coordinate a massive undertaking – a Youth Challenge that spans across 36 countries!

What started as a co-created idea in the physical and virtual hallways of GenU back in 2018, this year became a movement that reached 15 million young people in 2020! And what a year it has been!

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, work around the Youth Challenge became more complex but it also offered us the refreshing chance to witness in full force the resilience, ingenuity, and amazing grit of young people globally. Despite the difficulties, young people persisted – workshops were held virtually, mentorship continued online, ideas flourished. Projects and solutions spanning education, technology, employment, accessibility, equity, health, climate, entrepreneurship and beyond were ideated and thrived and this is how a wealth of creativity and innovation brought us all to the culminating moment of announcing this year’s winners.

And so, here it goes! Drum roll…the winners are:

eBionics from North Macedonia

Driven by their desire to innovate and create affordable solutions for people with disabilities, team eBionics is expanding access to user-friendly prosthetic care services with their project Venus Arm. The Venus Arm is a 3D printed bionic arm for people with upper limb deficiency.

Their vision is to create a user-generated sustainable and altruistic social enterprise with a worldwide community of makers, contributors and supporters, third party partners and most importantly, a business which provides affordable and reliable 3D printed bionic arms

A group of people holding a sign for the eBionics team

Meet Femme & Stem from Mexico

Meet team FEMME&STEM who believe that STEM subjects are for everyone. Knowing that in the next 30 years, most jobs will focus on this area, they set out to help young girls prepare for this and bridge the gender gap in STEM.

This team created a personalized education platform, Erandi Aprende, designed to provide resources, tools and educational programs to awaken an interest in science and technology within young girls aged 8-12 and give them the knowledge on how to use technology to solve everyday problems.

Their goal is to make science and technology accessible to all girls without leaving boys behind and raise awareness on the importance of STEM within the future of work.

A portrait of four team members from Femme & Stem

Meet Muallim from Thailand

Muallim is a team from southern Thailand envisioning a more peaceful world. Unfortunately, they grew up in a place of ongoing unrest which consequently lead to bullying becoming an issue in their community.

They realized that children do not seem to know what bullying is and so, they developed a board game - DAWN - to raise awareness and develop an understanding among children in their communities on what bullying is and the effects it has on their peers.

Dawn was designed from real-world situations from surveys and interviews that Team Muallim conducted in the field. The game allows players to recognize what behavior constitutes as bullying and learn how to handle such situations, support peers and reflect on one’s own behavior.

A portrait of the team members from Team Muallim

Meet CreaDeaf from Syria

This team, most of whom are persons with disabilities, were motivated to create a solution that will support in advocating for more integration of persons with disabilities in Syria within the education system and labor market. This would help curb the multitude of challenges persons from this community face every day and empower this group of young people to be better engaged in society and have an equitable chance to meaningfully contribute to their communities.

Team CreaDeaf thus established a specialized center to offer a package of services to Syrian youth living with disabilities through targeted and adequate awareness raising, capacity development and skills development through a peer-to-peer methodology.

A portrait of the members of Team CreaDeaf

Meet The Green Project from Kenya

The Green Project is a social venture established to create employment for Kenyan youth and provide their communities with clean, affordable energy in the form of organic briquettes. 

The team was concerned with the rise of unemployment rates in Kenya which has led to a rise in crime, especially within informal settlements, as young people have limited means of gaining decent and gainful employment, especially due to the pandemic.

Their vision is to engage unemployed youth within slum areas in the provision of affordable and reliable decentralized renewable energy made from organic waste thus cutting dependency on expensive fossil fuels, which will enable communities to take part in the global fight against climate change.

A portrait of the members of the Green Project

Meet Hydrolution from Nicaragua

Within the Central American Dry Corridor, unemployment rates have sky-rocketed and due to climate change and the tons of oild that end up in water sources, there is a lack of water fit for human consumption. To address these issues, this team of young entrepreneurs collect and recycle used oil and transform it into artisanal soap that can be used for the washing of hands and clothes.

Hydrolution also intends to train adolescents and young people through workshops and courses on the fabrication of soaps from vegetable oils. Their goal is to address both unemployment and environmental issues in the ‘Dry Corridor’ of Nicaragua.

A portrait of the members of Hydrolution

Meet Team Muda from Nigeria

Team Muda are concerned with the staggering number of Nigerian youth not in school despite primary education being free and compulsory.

To bridge this gap, this team developed Street2school, a blended online-offline community learning hub that empowers adolescents who are not in school to learn basic foundational and soft skills. 

Their vision is to reach over 2,000 young people aged between 13-20 years from marginalized communities across Northeastern Nigeria with alternative learning pathways to access basic literacy, numeracy and soft skills by 2023 thereby equipping them with the necessary skills required to become productive members of their own communities.

A portrait of the members of Team Muda

And finally, last but certainly not least, meet Education on Air from India

This team identified a crucial problem students are facing especially since the onset of the pandemic. This problem is the lack of access to technology to facilitate online learning, especially for disadvantaged children in rural areas where poverty and connectivity hinder access to quality education. 

To solve this, Education on air developed an app called Radio Espaller Education, designed to reach children even in the most remote areas in their own languages. The app was also designed to reduce the screen time for children in urban areas who have been glued to their screens during the pandemic.

Their goal is to stimulate visualization and imagination in children through this audio series.

As you absorb the creativity and energy of these bright minds, take a moment to realize the many barriers and hurdles they had to pass this year to get to this point. Now, take another moment to appreciate their positive spirits and ambition for a world that’s compassionate and supportive for every child and young person.

This is just the start of their journeys and Generation Unlimited is incredibly happy and proud to continue supporting them in their pathway to success and their leaps towards a prosperous future for young people globally!