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University Challenge: CEDA maps a creative future

Publishing Date : 30 October, 2017

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The Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) have come up with a University Challenge that motivates innovation and creativity among young people.

The initiative speaks to entrepreneurship, job creation, poverty eradication and community development among other things. We take the view that the competition has brought about some inspiring initiatives that showcase how youth work and calculated platforms can enhance young people’s creativity and innovation, through their experimental nature, participatory approaches, and peer-learning, and how this can help them to find their place in the labour market - and in life. It is the result of these rewarding initiatives that young people thrive through constructive responses to challenges faced by many young people in communities. Indeed CEDA should be applauded for coming up with this initiative.

CEDA and BDSA held interviews for the Top 10 contenders on Wednesday this week. The ultimate winner will be announced on October 31st at an award ceremony in Gaborone. The CEDA/DBSA University Challenge is an outcome of the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI) 3rd Joint CEO Forum that was hosted by CEDA in November 2016. The Challenge was opened to youth between ages of 18-35, specifically those enrolled in institutions of higher learning accredited by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA), at all levels; (Certificate, Diploma, Bachelor’s Degree, Masters Degrees or Doctoral Programmes) who had to come up with implementable solutions addressing issues affecting the country, including in areas of:

Youth Employment, Employment Creation, Women Empowerment, and Poverty Eradication. From the projects that have made it to the Top 10, we learn that life solutions do not only come through employment, education or training. CEDA realizes that we must go beyond the three. In some instances those who gain employment find that the reality of the job falls well below their ambitions and vision.

Reality today is that inadequate opportunities exist for practical experience in skills needed to function in the fast changing environment, despite the high labour market demand for special skills, some are not just cut for formal employment. Overall, our education system generally fails to deliver skills important for employment, hence the likes of CEDA tap into the gap to propel innovation and entrepreneurship.

We are confident that the youth could work to narrow ‘the gap between the competences acquired by young people and the needs of the labour market’ through initiatives such as the University Challenge. CEDA and DBSA should ensure that after the selection of the winner there should be mentors, coaches, and trainers for all the top 10 participants because all the projects have potential.

All the ten participants appear ready and have developed sense for creativity, innovation and risk-taking, the readiness to seize opportunities at work and in daily life, and the ability to plan and manage projects is going to be key for the future success of their proposals. They have already demonstrated that they have the skills and attitudes that can contribute to social and commercial activity. We understand that the broader aim of this Challenge is to help young people become entrepreneurs of their own lives’, able to shape personal prospects. Innovation and creativity can also help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to become resources in co-creating solutions that solve problems in their communities.

There are glimpses that this Challenge competition is intended to develop a culture of initiative, making young people its authors and actors and boosting their creativity, audacity and talent in sustainable development and entrepreneurialism. It goes without saying that although the winner takes financial support, there is going to be need for technical and throughout the projects, from conception to completion.

The CEDA and DBSA University Challenge should be used to develop pilot projects and models that could guide the economy going forward. Botswana is currently preaching knowledge economy, these projects should mirror this and we should see minds at work. CEDA must also promote projects that have a positive influence on young people’s lives and contribute to their personal development.



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