The topic of youth employment was prominently featured at the WEDF. The YES! Forum provided a platform for stakeholders involved in the areas of creating decent jobs for youth and youth entrepreneurship and self-employment to engage, share experiences, innovations, and opportunities for scalable action.
Another highlight of the forum was the Young Social Entrepreneurs Pitching Competition that involved social start-ups from Cameroon, Ethiopia and Guinea, who competed for the grand prize of US$ 5,000 in seed funding provided by ITC. The competition was organised in partnership with the Impact Hub Geneva’s Accelerate2030 Programme, IceAddis, the Pierre Castel Foundation, and the United States Mission to the African Union.
Siyabuddy, a recycling and waste management company based in Steenbok Village, South Africa won the competition. The judges acknowledged the social impact on poor people through employment creation and for presenting an easily replicable business model. Siyabuddy is currently developing a system to commercialise the use of black soldier fly larvae to produce compost. The company provides indirect jobs to more than 1,000 individuals, 80% of whom are female. 25% of Siyabuddy’s shares are owned by its employees.
The forum also featured different business-to-business matchmaking meetings that brought together agribusiness companies of all sizes from across the globe focused on fruits, vegetables, meat, cereals, dairy, tea, coffee, spices, agro-processing technologiesm and packaging solutions. Participants engaged in “speed workshops” to build business skills, with topics ranging from marketing and social media, to e-commerce, packaging, and finance. The matchmaking meetings involved 300 companies from 30 countries and participants held over 1,000 business-to-business meetings that generated business leads worth an estimated US$6-$14 million over the four days of the forum.