Twenty-five young people from the One Stop Youth Resource Center in Nairobi have just graduated from the first ever Global Partnership Environmental Entrepreneurship Program (GPEEP) sponsored by UN-HABITAT, Youth for HABITAT and the Environmental Youth Alliance.
"This training is important because it recognizes both the youth need for employment combined with their concern for the environment," states Jane Bisanjou, youth entrepreneur trainer with Youth for HABITAT. "The program demonstrates that youthful idealism for the
environment can be combined with the pragmatic need for a job."
The recent Youth Employment Summit held in Nairobi underlined the greatest challenge facing young people – gainful employment. "We live in a world where nearly one in five people between the ages of 15 and 24 survives on less than one dollar per day, and almost half live on less than two dollars per day. Moreover, while youth make up one fourth of the world's labor force, they account for one half of its unemployed," stated UN-HABITAT Executive Direct Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka.
"What is heartening is that youth still demonstrate resiliency and entrepreneurialism while faced with such a challenging economic and social environment."
GPEEP is for youth ages 18 - 29 and is comprised of a two week intensive entrepreneurship 'boot camp' followed by a two week to six month internship with a local environmental company. During the two week training participants undertook market research and completed a draft business plan to be utilized in the start-up and running of their enterprises. Training included development of marketing, operations and financial management strategies for sustainable businesses. Further insight into the workings of an environmental enterprise was gained during a visit to the Mukuru Recycling Centre.
A unique feature of GPEEP is the ongoing support provided to the entrepreneurs following training. One of these supports is the upcoming internships that will be undertaken by the entrepreneurs. The internships will help to bridge the gap between knowledge and
experience that is often encountered by young entrepreneurs. The supporting businesses will provide mentorship as they transfer technical and practical managerial skills to the youth. Another support that will be offered to the entrepreneurs is ongoing mentorship that will be provided by their peer trainers. Upon completion of the mentorship the youths will proceed with the launch of their environmental and socially sustainable businesses.
GPEEP is part of the larger Global Partnership Initiative for Urban Youth Development in Africa (GPI), a programme of UN-HABITAT that is supported by the Government of Norway. The aim of the GPI is to mobilize and harness the resources of Africa’s youth, to empower them and improve the quality of life for young people in cities and towns. Through collaboration between other UN agencies and their, local, national and international youth organizations, NGOs and local authorities, the GPI focuses on creating effective and sustainable models for urban youth development and employment in Africa.