United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation in 2017 formed the philanthropic arm of Citibank called the Youth Co:Lab initiative. The aim of the lab is to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region in order to empower and invest in youth, and to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs through leadership, entrepreneurship and social innovation.
Pakistan is the key region for the program, and recently in collaboration with their execution partner DEMO organized the National SDG Bootcamp from the 7th to 10th of January 2019 that was followed by the SDG Changemakers Summit that took place on 11th January 2019.
Speaking about the partnership Saad Hamid, CEO DEMO, the execution partner for the SDG Bootcamp said, “We are thrilled to partner with UNDP to introduce this model of capacity building for young founders and startups. The bootcamp helps the founders not just to learn through some of the best mentors of the ecosystem but also gives them an opportunity to connect with each other and form a long-lasting bond that will be crucial to their success.”
At the five day bootcamp, the young entrepreneurs received mentorship and support from experts to develop game-changing social ventures with the potential to tackle Pakistan’s complex development challenges.
The SDG Bootcamp itself was an intensive four-day workshop for 20 young changemakers and was led by leading experts in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The bootcamp consisted of talks from the country’s top entrepreneurs such as Muneeb Maayr and Sarah Khurrum. A series of workshops on Leadership training, Social Innovation, Design Thinking, Financial Modeling, Pitching, Industry Linkages, Marketing and Branding Strategies also took place at the camp.
The SDG Changemakers Summit 2019 that followed the bootcamp brought together key stakeholders including the government, private sector, development actors and entrepreneurs to discuss opportunities to take quick actions needed to improve Pakistan’s entrepreneurship ecosystem for social impact.
Furthermore, a panel discussion on “Improving Pakistan’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem for Social Impact – what actions do we need” also took place with esteemed panelists such as Saram Boukhari, Director Centre for Social Entrepreneurship; Parvez Abbasi, Co-founder TeamUp/National Incubation Centre; Lashley A. Pulsipher, Chief Sales Marketing and Revenue Officer at Hashoo Group; Adeel Shahid, Head of Marketing and Public Affairs at Citibank N.A., Pakistan; Aamer Ejaz, Chief Digital Officer Jazz; Dr. Umar Saif , SDG Consultant at UNDP Pakistan; and Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative a.i. UNDP Pakistan.
The top three performers at the SDG Bootcamp were awarded grants of USD 2,500 each to help them in expanding their social enterprises and will be given an opportunity to pitch their ideas at the Regional Annual Youth Co: Lab Summit that will be held in Vietnam, in April 2019.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative a.i. Said, “The sheer scope of the SDGs creates a space for a new generation of social entrepreneurs who can contribute to this vision through innovative initiatives and by setting up new social businesses. UNDP will continue to strengthen its support to the ecosystem.”
Mr. Adeel Shahid, Head of Marketing and Public Affairs at Citi speaking on the occasion said, “The growing income disparity in Pakistan does not provide a level playing field for the underserved youth of Pakistan. Mentoring and giving exposure to a variety of life skills helps young people get a head start that they need in order to excel in their lives and careers. Pakistan has a growing labor force with 1.7 million young people reaching working age each year and unemployment for them is set to rise to 8.6 million by 2020. Citi Foundation aims to work with partners such as the UNDP who share our interest in empowering our urban youth to ensure a brighter future.”