Top News

Youth Co:Lab Summit 2024 provides a platform for Sri Lankan entrepreneurs to shine

The Regional Youth Co:Lab Summit, jointly organized by Citi Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), positions young people at the forefront to solve the region’s most pressing challenges

Over 200 participants from 20 countries and territories gathered in the Philippines at the Youth Co:Lab Summit 2024, centered on the theme of ‘Inclusive Entrepreneurship’,  to celebrate and highlight the critical role of young entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds in driving sustainable and equitable economic development and in advancing the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  The Youth Co:Lab Summit 2024 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, was organized together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Department of Trade and Industry Philippines (DTI).

Held at the ADB Headquarters in Manila, Philippines recently, the Summit was a platform to champion inclusivity in entrepreneurship, promote youth-driven climate initiatives, and harness digital skills where young social entrepreneurs present their inclusive solutions, female-centric initiatives, support for underserved communities and innovative climate responses to build inclusive and just societies.  The two-day summit (27-28 June) saw participants from diverse backgrounds, including young social entrepreneurs, government delegates, private sector partners, investors, and other youth community partners also joining virtually.

Young Social Entrepreneur, Mr. Jayanthan Amalanathan, Founder of SPM Industries from Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, a social enterprise that strives to empower individuals and communities by supporting them in embracing new technology through research and development was a part of the delegation that represented Sri Lanka at this year’s Summit.  While presenting his idea to a high-level panel of regional investors and experts, Jayanthan showcased SPM Industries’ commitment to innovation, industry, and entrepreneurship, which has led to the development of cutting-edge solutions. These solutions have revolutionized access to technology, providing affordable services and transformative opportunities for all. SPM Industries offers a range of services, including website and application development, IoT services, and more, and is dedicated to leveraging the power of technology to uplift and develop of local communities in Sri Lanka.

Commenting on his journey, Jayanthan highlighted, “During my childhood at school, I often pondered the inequalities among students and their access to resources. This reflection became one of the motivations that shaped me into the social entrepreneur I am today. I believe this year’s theme of the Youth Co-Lab summit profoundly impacted me, reinforcing my drive to support fellow entrepreneurs from marginalized communities and contribute to our collective growth. Meeting like-minded individuals, all passionate about creating change, is a rare opportunity that I will never forget. It was a moment to both inspire and be inspired, fueling my commitment to making a lasting difference in our community”.

Also representing the Sri Lankan delegation was Ms. Himali Athaudage, Additional Secretary, Skills Development and Vocational Education, Ministry of Education; Mr. Dushantha Ranwala, Tech Evangelist – IdeaMart, Dialog and Youth Empowerment Alliance (YEA) representative; and Ms. Ralani Weerasinghe, Learning and Skills Programme Associate, UNDP in Sri Lanka.

Sharing his experience, Dushanthan Ranwala, Tech Evangelist – IdeaMart, Dialog and Youth Empowerment Alliance (YEA) representative commented, “The Youth Co:Lab Summit served as a powerful showcase of young, inclusive entrepreneurship across Asia. We were deeply inspired by the potential for collaboration amongst these ventures and the positive impact they can create.  We look forward to actively engaging and fostering a supportive ecosystem where these young leaders can flourish and contribute meaningfully to the region.”

Adding to this, Ms. Himali Athaudage, Additional Secretary, Skills Development and Vocational Education, Ministry of Education noted, “The summit proved itself to be an inspiration by creating an environment for young entrepreneurs, by providing mentoring and knowledge as well as the opportunity to voice their needs. As a part of the Ministry of Education, I believe that this Summit was imperative to understand what we as a government can provide for our young entrepreneurs and how we should listen to their voices.”

 The Summit provided a regional space for young social entrepreneurs across the Asia-Pacific region to foster knowledge and idea exchanges through networking and collaboration, inspire and engage youth to take action, discuss emerging trends in the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem, advocate for policies to enhance its resilience and inaugurate collaborative initiatives for inclusive youth entrepreneurship.

In Sri Lanka, SPM Industries is one the many entrepreneurs supported through the Youth Co:Lab programme over the years, providing a platform for young people across the island to generate, present and develop their social innovation ideas, ultimately converting them into sustainable enterprises, aimed at solving crucial development challenges faced by their community or country as a whole.

Youth Co:Lab, co-created by UNDP and the Citi Foundation in 2017, is the largest youth movement for empowerment, social entrepreneurship, equality, and social inclusion in Asia Pacific and has supported young people in 28 countries and territories. Since its inception, activities supported by Youth Co:Lab have reached 280,300 participants across the Asia-Pacific region.

Related Articles

Back to top button