An impactful three years of YouthConnekt in Cameroon
YouthConnekt Cameroon celebrates three years of socio-economic empowerment and development in the lives of the Cameroonian Youths
"Thanks to the financial support, numerous capacity buildings, and connections received, we were able to transform our business and expand to a larger scale. Unlike before, when we had fewer clients, today we have multiplied our clients, including companies that buy from us to supply. All of this is thanks to the support of UNDP within the Youth Connect Initiative." Ms. Nguekeu Deesse, 25-year-old, Director of PEMESSO, testified during the trade fair exhibition commemorating YouthConnekt Cameroon's third anniversary. PEMESSO produces 3D laser printing machines, which are used to produce a variety of woodworks, metalworks, and advertising prints, among other types of materials. PEMESSO is among the over 10,000 youth-owned initiatives that have benefited from the YouthConnekt initiative in Cameroon.
December 7th to 17th, 2022 marked the celebration of the 3rd anniversary of YouthConnekt Cameroon, an initiative that stems from YouthConnect Africa, a UNDP Africa regional initiative, whose vision is to connect African youth for socio-economic transformation and empowerment by enhancing their knowledge, experiences, and skills while investing in their ideas, innovations, and initiatives.
Activities marking the initiative’s 3rd anniversary, accompanied by the second edition of SIPROME, brought together over 2500 youths including young innovative entrepreneurs, top government officials, representatives of partner UN agencies, investors, and entrepreneurs. The celebration was officially launched in an engaging ceremony by the Prime Minister’s Rep. His Ex. Gregoire Owona, MINTSS, with the active participation of MINJEC, Mounouna Foutsou, UNDP West and Central Africa’s Regional Manager, Njoya Tikum, UNDP Cameroon’s Acting Resident Rep. Alassane Ba, and the President of the Cameroon Youth Council, Fadimatou Iyawa, among other officials.
The key message from the officiators centered around creating an enabling environment for youth socio-economic empowerment and entrepreneurship, to enable young Cameroonian women and men to access opportunities and excel in their endeavors. While ensuring UNDP’s continued engagement to foster the initiative, Mr. Alassane thanked the government of Cameroon for embedding the initiative and leveraging it for the benefit of the Cameroonian youth. He also appreciated the engagement of the private sector and the UN sister agencies, UNFPA, UN Women, and UNESCO, for readily embracing and supporting the initiative.
In the same vein, UNDP WACA’s Regional Manager, Mr. Njoya, and MINJEC, His Ex. Mounouna Foutsou, took the stage of the event in an interactive session to motivate and empower the youths to challenge their barriers, and aim for sustainable socio-economic growth.
Another key aspect of the celebration was the animation of a trade fair, which brought together over 480 entrepreneurs, beneficiaries of YouthConnekt, from all ten regions of Cameroon, to exhibit and sell their products and services while connecting with investors and other entrepreneurs. The young innovative entrepreneurs came from diverse sectors of activities: agriculture and agro-industry, automation technology (mechanization, robotics), green sector and renewable energy, digital economy (digital communication, applications), processing industry (agro-food, agro-industry), and arts and crafts (dance, music, cinema, and plastic arts).
For the past three years, thanks to significant investments by partners, YouthConnekt Cameroon has recorded remarkable results within its five pillars: youth employment and entrepreneurship; civic education, citizen participation, and social cohesion; inter- and intra-generational youth interconnection; gender gap; sexual education and reproductive health. Within these pillars, the initiative created over 9000 jobs, 40% of which were women; strengthened the technical and logistical capacities of over 3000 entrepreneurs; inserted over 500 youths into academic and professional internships; empowered over 200 peacemakers; established over 2,000 birth certificates; supported the training and equipment of over 3,500 agricultural groups and small trades, 53% of whom were women; animated over 20 community dialogues involving over 520 young people, 33% of whom were women, which resulted to an improvement in the cohabitation between young people and the defense and security forces; developed the nano finance platform and the YouthConnekt social network; organized the YouthConnekt Cameroon Convention and hangouts; strengthened actions to reduce inequalities in the gender gap; empowered 100,000 young people and adolescents with comprehensive sexuality education, who are now enjoying their sexual rights and are able to implement their life plans. All these have promoted the connection of more than three million young people to mentors, role models, and leaders.
At the end of the 10-day celebrations, MINJEC and UNDP on behalf of the steering committee awarded the 2022 best young entrepreneurs and outstanding youth leaders and development actors for their role in youth development. The YouthConnekt steering committee also reviewed its work plan, captured learnings, and projected its perspectives for 2023, geared towards mobilizing more private sector and development actors for continued youth empowerment and socio-economic development.
The YoutConnect Cameroon Initiative is supported by MINJEC, UNDP, UNFPA, UN Women, UNESCO, Fondation Puene, GICAM, among others.