Eritrean youth conclude 5-day Idea Studio workshop on entrepreneurship skills for business creation

47 youth from all six regions worked to design innovative business ideas that promise economic prosperity and could help to drive social change in the country.

UNICEF Eritrea
The participants at the concluding ceremony with the UK Ambassador and UNICEF Representative.
UNICEF Eritrea/2019/Tadese
13 August 2019

UNICEF Eritrea and the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students (NUEYS) recently concluded a 5-day workshop on building entrepreneurship skills among youth in the capital Asmara.

Forty-seven youth from different Zobas, including innovators from emerging start-ups, worked under the guidance of Professor Rupesh K. Shrestha from Kathmandu University, Nepal. They created innovative business plans which included solar powered digital libraries, energy saving cooking-stoves, eco-friendly construction materials, education software and access for the hearing impaired/deaf, and low-cost energy-saving laptops.

The Idea Studio was initiated in 2018 in collaboration between the Ministry of National Development, the Ministry of Information, the National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, UNICEF Eritrea, Kathmandu University School of Management and Idea Studio Nepal. It is a work in progress initiative, seekig to ignite social change by promoting social innovation though knowledge creation, investment and enhance social justice to restore human dignity.

Professor Shrestha looks over students at a table.
UNICEF Eritrea/2019/Tadese
Participants worked in teams under the supervision of Professor Rupesh Shrestha from Kathmandu University, Nepal.

This workshop was a follow-up to the high-level Idea Studio consultation forum conducted in February 2019 to develop a critical mass of entrepreneurs and establish the Idea Studio in Eritrea. It provided knowledge and skills on human-centred design thinking, primary market research, process of ideation, customer identification and segmentation, developing high-level product specification, sales strategy and planning a value-based business model, and ultimately delivering a pitch for a business plan.

“Traditional bricks require a lot of heat to bind them whereas the eco-friendly bricks made from volcanic ash can be made cheaper, and will better insulate against the extremes in weather,” said Asmait Hadish, a civil engineer who has in the past provided ideas for the city’s solid waste management programme.

The Idea Studio project was funded through a Government of Japan grant to UNICEF Eritrea in 2018 to support youth-centred programmes.


A man speaks into a microphone, standing next to a stove display.
UNICEF Eritrea/2019/Tadese
This team has already designed a prototype of efficient stoves that require 75 per cent less firewood than traditional stoves.

“As four out of five Eritreans rely on firewood, our redesigned stoves use only 25 per cent of the firewood compared to traditional stoves. It will cut down on smoke inhalation and reduce acute respiratory infections among children and women.”

– Kibrom Okbazghi, whose company is already testing their prototype stoves with an army unit station

“We are happy to partner with UNICEF in adapting the Idea Studio model in Eritrea for our young people, and to help them seek innovative solutions for local problems,” said Mr. Saleh Ahmeddin, Chairperson of the NUEYS in concluding remarks to the participants.

A National Idea Studio Operational Manual was developed in early 2019 which charts out a roadmap, identifies capacities, resources and systems required to establish a fully-fledged Idea Studio in Eritrea.

“I see immense potential among Eritrean youth. Knowledge creation and learning is the only way that will help to change the status quo. Please believe in yourselves and keep the spirits burning. Continue working on your ideas and implement it. Make it happen,” said Professor Shrestha to the participants whom he had coached over the five-day workshop.

The closing ceremony was a lively affair where all the participants who had worked in groups presented their business ideas followed by interesting deliberations on their business models.

“I’m really proud of you as you have shown passion, curiosity and you’re looking for solutions. You also have good team spirit and I wish you all the best,” said Ambassador of the UK to Eritrea H.E Alisdair Walker to the participants.

The ultimate intention of the Idea Studio is to generate business ideas and foster entrepreneurship. The Idea Studio model will enable the innovators to come up with innovative solutions to solve the social problems and challenges in local communities.

“The ideas and business models presented by the youths after the 5-day workshop was hugely impressive, it was like talking to aspiring CEOs of tomorrow; these young people came across as very confident, articulate, value-driven and solution-oriented to local problems, hence very promising,” said UNICEF Representative, Ms. Shaheen Nilofer.

All participants were presented with a certificate of achievement during the closing ceremony for the workshop.