Ministry of Youth and Sports, UNICEF and development partners inaugurate the first innovation lab to develop youth social innovation and entrepreneurship skills
CAIRO, 18 September 2022 – Today, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) inaugurated the first innovation lab of its kind at El Waily youth center. In total, six innovation labs are being established in Egypt with the support of the Office of International Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy and the Embassy of Netherlands in Egypt to develop social innovation, digital and entrepreneurship skills among young people including refugees and migrants.
The inaugural event was attended by H.E. Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports, H.E. Ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt, Dr. Valerie Liechti, Head of the Office of International Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy, Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt and Mr. Eric Oechslin, Director of the International Labour Organization.
The innovation labs model is a new component under ‘Meshwary’ programme. With the support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and from the Embassy of the Netherlands, UNICEF in collaboration with MoYS will establish innovation hubs inside youth centres. Each center will be run by the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The model aims at contributing to the socio-economic empowerment of Egyptian and non-Egyptian youth through promoting their social innovation, digital, and entrepreneurship skills to support them in their learning to earning journey.
H.E. Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sports stressed that the Ministry of Youth and Sports pays great attention to the field of innovation and entrepreneurship in the current era, especially to implement innovation labs within youth centers as part of its role in qualifying young people for the labor market and helping them start small, medium and micro projects and enterprises after graduation. These projects are of great importance to the Egyptian economy, in addition to the innovation labs which play a big role in promoting social innovation, digital skills, and entrepreneurship in order to support these youth.
The Minister of Youth and Sports said: “We want to have an innovation lab in every youth center to provide support and training for young people to find appropriate ideas for their own start-up projects. This will help continuing our efforts to support the idea of entrepreneurship and encouraging young innovators in all Egyptian governorates to discover, refine and nurture their talents while directing these talents in the right paths that serves the national development.”
At the conclusion of his speech, Dr. Ashraf Sobhi commended the fruitful cooperation and long-term partnership with UNICEF, especially in the ‘Mashwary’ program, which spanned over 14 years, during which it was able to reach nearly 400,000 young men and women in 15 governorates representing Upper Egypt and the Delta. Dr. Sobhi highlighted that "Meshwary" program has been able to provide youth, including the Differently Abled, with continuous opportunities for capacity building and career guidance, through two main components, the first is skills development and the second component is vocational counselling.
Ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Netherlands in Egypt said: “The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a proud supporter of this initiative through the PROSPECTS partnership and hopes it will allow all children in Egypt to have the access, skills and desire to improve their prospects. We hope this innovation lab will be a place for children, Egyptians, migrants and refugees, to come, learn and play together.”
Dr. Valerie Liechti, Head of the Office of International Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy said: “It is our pleasure to be here today in the opening ceremony of the first innovation lab of its kind in youth centers, which is a new component under ‘Meshwary’ program; one of the most important elements implemented under ‘Youth for Future’ program. We are proud of this partnership that brought us together, as we also hope to see youth graduates from the innovation labs presenting innovative solutions to major challenges in Egypt very soon.”
Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt said, “We strongly believe that all young people must have access to the right skills that will enable them to be active citizens and agents of change in a changing world.” Hopkins added that; “Through this model, UNICEF in collaboration with MoYS and with the support of the Swiss “Youth for Future” programme and the Netherlands “Prospects” programme embassies will work on ensuring that all young people over time, have access to innovation labs such as these in which they can work on innovation ideas and enhance their skills.”
The innovation labs model is an extension of ‘Meshwary’ programme that promotes youth employability and empowerment. ‘Meshwary’ has been under the auspices of the Prime Minister since May 2021 and has been led by the Ministry of Youth and Sports since its inception in 2008. It has reached 400,000 young people with life skills, and employability skill.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/egypt/