The UPSHIFT programme continues strong - UNICEF and FITD commit to continue providing support for youth social entrepreneurship

22 September 2023
The UPSHIFT programme continues strong - UNICEF and FITD commit to continue providing support for youth social entrepreneurship

Skopje, 22 September 2023: The Fund for Innovation and Technological Development (FITD) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today signed a new Memorandum of Understanding to continue with the UPSHIFT success story by the end of 2025. Both organizations are committed to continue providing support for youth social entrepreneurship through the UPSHIFT programme.

The UPSHIFT programme engages young people aged 13 to 19 years to design an innovative solution to a social problem they have identified in their community. In the last six UPSHIFT cycles, some 300 young people participated in a programme dedicated on climate change solutions. Thirty solutions received seed funding and implemented their ideas into practice. Among them there are innovative solutions such as a rainwater collection and distribution system and a drop-by-drop system for the agriculture secondary school in Skopje.

The programme aims to foster innovative and creative thinking among young people, to understand the challenges they face and help them design innovative solutions in the form of a product or service. Additionally, young people are given the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills, such as: project management, critical thinking, teamwork, successful communication, and to make new friendships.

"Together with UNICEF, we share a common vision, that is to support creativity, innovation and develop young people’s skills, thus creating a prosperous future for young people in our country. As part of our work, the Fund emphasizes the support of proven successful initiatives that foster the potential of young people through a comprehensive national program "Fund for Young Minds" - enabling young people to participate in intellectually stimulating programs outside of formal education, such as " Young Researchers Challenge", "Junior Achievement" and others," said Festim Halili, Director of the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development.

Over the next three years, the cooperation will continue its focus on social innovation on environmental and climate challenges. This is a direct contribution towards the implementation of the UN and EU commitments and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. The UPSHIFT cycles will cover areas like climate change, energy, decarbonization, renewal of ecosystems, sustainable food systems, circular economy, and others.

“Over the past three years the UPSHIFT programme was a catalyst for the amazing potential of young people to identify and address environmental challenges in their communities. Hundreds of young people brought to life truly innovative solutions, and equally important, they were recognized as leaders in the actions we need to take to mitigate the vulnerabilities to climate change. We are happy that jointly with the FITD we can continue creating such opportunities for young innovators in the country.” said Patrizia Di Giovanni, UNICEF Representative.

The UPSHIFT programme combines social innovation workshops, with mentorship, materials, and seed funding, equipping young people with skills. It starts with a local call for self–starting groups of 13-19-year-olds to design an innovative solution to a social problem they have identified in their community.  A panel of private and public-sector representatives selects the best ideas, and the teams are guided by a mentor and participate in a design thinking workshop to develop their ideas. The programme benefits young people, but also the wider community from solutions created.

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