(Report from UN Development Programme) In partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sudan, under its Youth Empowerment flagship project - The Youth Volunteers Supporting Peace and Recovery in Darfur-(YoVoReD) launched the “Start and Manage Your Own Business (SMYOB)” challenge in February 2018 in all the five Darfur states. The competition was open to all youth in Darfur who were invited to submit business proposals for funding.
The business incubation challenge consists of two stages, conducted separately in each of the five Darfur state. Out of 3,392 applications received in the first stage, 150 individual and group projects involving 190 youth were pre-selected. The selection panels consisting of UNDP, government and NGO representatives and business experts from the banking sector, assessed proposals based on established criteria including level of innovation, quality of market analysis, budget as well as its contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Through the SMYOB challenge, 3,392 young people in Darfur had an opportunity to learn more about the SDGs.
In the second stage, the 150 best selected projects presented their business propositions with an emphasis on business feasibility, economic viability, innovation and contributions to the SDGs. Presentations were adjudged and ranked by a panel of business experts drawn from the Sate Ministries, NGOs and the banking sector who also provided technical advice to the youth. The finalists were awarded prizes in the form of business incubation grants to start small businesses. The value of the prizes depended on the rank of the projects.
The best prize in West Darfur was won by a food processing (confectionery) project developed by Nagat Ishag. Nagat expressed her joy: “The second stage workshop was very useful. I learned a lot from the panel’s advice and presentations of the other winners. Now I know where I should improve in my project and I also learned new techniques. I will work harder so that my project will be successful.”
The other four top projects include the following:
* North Darfur: Portable solar panel charger production project
* South Darfur: Local herbal medicine production project
* East Darfur: Women’s training centre management project
* Central Darfur: Poultry Farm Project
One of the members in the selection panel, Mohamed Doka, Director of Savings and Social Development Bank in North Darfur encouraged stakeholders to promote youth entrepreneurship in Darfur. He said, “Promoting youth entrepreneurship is one of solutions to youth unemployment in Darfur. Our bank is ready to support youth entrepreneurs by providing necessary training and advice in addition to funding according to the bank regulations”. Mr. Doka also promised that the Savings and Social Development Bank will give additional business management training to the SMYOB winners in North Darfur.
The workshops were organized in all the five Darfur states, with the support of State Ministries of Youth & Sports, Finance and Social Affairs, the Peace centres, MFIs and banks, El Fasher Tech (a private sector entity) and NGOs (VNWRHD, ERRADA, NIDO, CDCI, BORD, TDO and MDO). Through SMYOB, UNDP aims to improve entrepreneurial capacity of Darfuri youth by supporting their creative and bankable ideas through design thinking and innovation in order to create employment for themselves whilst providing needful services for the peace and recovery of their communities. YoVoReD Phase III is funded by Japan.
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