Five social enterprises founded by young people across the Asia Pacific were recognized for innovative approaches to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The winning teams were chosen from 16 finalists in the Summit’s Regional Social Innovation Challenge, which capped the inaugural Youth Co:Lab Summit 2018 held in Bangkok, Thailand.
Launched in 2017 by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), with support from the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab is a regional program that aims to tackle social and unemployment challenges by harnessing youth’s leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. The program is part of Citi and Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative to equip urban youth with the tools to thrive in today’s economy.
All three Philippine teams won in the categories of Start-up Track and Scale-up Track.
The Philippine representatives were Alex Austria and Keisha Mayuga of LawKo, a legal literacy initiative; Pamela Nicole Mejia of Phinix, a textile recycling center; and Samantha Sanchez and Dominique de Leon of Arooga Health, a mental wellness platform.
The judges were David Galipeau, UNDP SDG Impact Finance chief impact officer; Brandee McHale, Citi Foundation president and Citi Corporate Citizenship director; Chinawut Chinaprayoon, Thailand National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office New Venture and Entrepreneurship director; Elsie Tsui, Hong Kong Social Enterprise Challenge project director; Sujiva Dewaraja, Sri Lanka John Keells Holdings former executive vice-president; and Chiratas Nivatpumin, Bangkok Post Newspaper Business assistant chief operating officer.
The Regional Social Innovation Challenge, part of the inaugural Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit, marked the first year of partnership between UNDP and Citi Foundation. The program has reached over 1,700 young people and led to the launch and further development of over 140 social enterprises in 11 countries: Thailand, Philippines, China, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Pakistan and Vietnam. The Youth Co:Lab program is expected to include 16 countries by 2019.
For ongoing updates on the Youth Co:Lab program, follow #YouthCoLab and visit youthcolab.org and the Youth Co:Lab page on Facebook.