Since 2015, the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) has engaged 90 young Yemenis from across the country through annual innovation camps, hackathons, and workshops that aim to boost their capacity to respond to the critical challenges facing Yemen today.

With 24% of young men and women un- or underemployed, without intervention Yemen faces worsening economic and humanitarian disaster. Through training and capacity building, YLP offers youth the tools to develop unique and innovative solutions to address real-life challenges and further the 2030 Agenda and its 17 goals.

This year, during the occasion of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we celebrate the continued success of YLP Yemen’s changemaking Alumni. Meet three young Yemenis who have taken their ideas from a concept to practice.

 

The beauty of recycling: Create and Cut Yemen

Dina used to be an aspiring fashion student. However, repercussions from the on-going conflict meant that her field of study was cut from the university curriculum in 2015. Frustrated, but not discouraged, Dina began a journey that combined her passion for design with a critical issue facing her community – recycling.  

Dina began experimenting with ideas, product design, and distribution but lacked the skills needed to manage her project to scale. This is when Dina joined the YLP in 2017.

After gaining a deeper understanding of the business skills needed to manage production and distribution long-term, Dina was able to fully recognise the positive impact she could have in Yemen. Effective solid waste management is critically under resourced and funded, resulting in streets and waterways often overflowing with waste. 

Dina now had a way for people to see how trash could become treasure and Create and Cut was born. A line of custom designed pen and brush holders and jars, the products are made from 100% recycled Yemeni materials. Dina also plans to produce notebooks using recycled paper once she gets the necessary funds to purchase the needed machinery.

 

 

Today Dina remains motivated by her mission to both beautify and protect the world around her. Her collection of products is available locally in Al-Jeel Aljadeed store and the local Paper & Pen stationary store, as well as online through her Create & Cut Facebook page.

Energy for rural Yemen: Biogas for All

Omer wanted a solution to three problems: (1.) the lack of access to affordable energy in rural Yemen; (2.) health risks associated with open-fire cooking within the home; and, (3.) the dumping of organic waste that contributes to methane emissions and the potential spread of cholera and other communicable disease.

With no challenge too big, Omer joined the YLP in 2017. “YLP was the main thing that enabled me to launch my biogas project, which has developed into a solution for sustainable societies and made a significant impact on Yemeni communities,” says Omer.

With a burst of new energy and the skills needed to imagine and create his biogas solutions, Omer began rolling out small-scale biogas plants designed to enable the rapid decomposition of organic waste, to ensure maximum biogas production, and transmit affordable, efficient energy to rural Yemeni communities.

Following the launch of his initiative, Omer was awarded the UN Environment Young Champion Award and United Nations Prize for Earth Champions. Today Omer continues his mission for a greener Yemen through Biogas for All with three units currently operational and a plan to expand to 20 across Yemen.

 

A space for women’s storytelling: Let us Live!

In Yemen, only 10% of the presenters, reporters, guests, experts and information sources in Yemeni TV are women. Seeing this, Nesmah, a young social activist, decided to co-create an online space for women to tell their stories.

Let us Live! was conceived as a social media platform that created and published cartoons and stories to reflect and depict the lives and experiences of Yemeni women.

Nesmah’s idea was gaining traction, but following her participation in YLP Yemen 2017 – where she learned about design thinking, budgeting, modelling, and crowd funding – she started to expand her ideas and set new, more ambitious goals for her platform.

Nesmah was also selected to join the YLP regional workshops in Egypt and Lebanon, where she was exposed to new ideas and engaged with young women and men entrepreneurs from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds.

Since 2017, Let us Live! has expanded, obtained international funding support and is in preparation for Phase II of the project, during which she will support the production of awareness raising and products that advocate for women’s rights and changing stereotypes. 

The Youth Leadership Programme is an initiative of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Arab States. The YLP mission is to invest in young women and men across the region to unleash their potential to become social innovators, leaders, thinkers and a powerful force for change in their communities, countries and the region at large.

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