The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation are staging the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit in Bangkok from March 26 to 28, 2018.
Launched in 2017 by UNDP with support from Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab is a regional program that aims to tackle social and unemployment challenges by harnessing youth leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Youth Co:Lab is Citi Foundation’s flagship Pathways to Progress program in the region.
Data released by the International Labor Organization states that the global youth unemployment rate is currently over 13 percent, translating to about 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, worldwide. About half or 33 million of these people live in Asia-Pacific.
By engaging young people with policymakers and private sector partners, Youth Co:Lab serves as a platform for networking, idea-sharing, mentorship and collaboration through local National Dialogues and Social Innovation Challenges.
The inaugural Summit in Bangkok will comprise a Regional Dialogue on March 26 and a Regional Social Innovation on March 28. A total of 21 teams, including three from the Philippines, will pitch their social enterprise models at the Challenge for a chance at additional capacity-building opportunities.
Proudly representing the Philippines are Alex Austria of LawKo, a legal literacy initiative that aims to bridge the knowledge gap between a complicated legal system and the Filipino public; Pamela Nicole Mejia of Phinix, which upcycles old clothes and fabric scraps into footwear and accessories; and Samantha Sanchez of Arooga Health, which provides convenient access to emotional and wellness care providers.
Alex Austria of LawKo
“We feel quite lucky to be a part of the Summit,” says Alex. “Since we just got into the start-up scene less than 6 months ago, we’re overwhelmed and grateful because we didn’t even expect to end up here in the first place,” she added.
From its initial incarnation as a chatbot, LawKo has evolved into a legal literacy initiative thanks to the guidance of mentors from Rappler, QBO Philippines, and UNDP. It harnesses the power of technology and social media to help educate the public about government and legal processes.
Pamela Nicole Mejia of Phinix
For her part, Mejia feels just as honored to represent the country in the Youth Co:Lab Summit and is pleased with what Phinix has achieved thus far.
“We intend to employ economically vulnerable women such as out-of-school girls, single mothers, and unemployed women in our textile recycling facility,” Mejia says, adding that “we have partnered as well with a community of PWD weavers for our textile upcycling and weaving production.”
Phinix is a textile recycling center that collects textile wastes and transforms them into higher valued products such as footwear and accessories. It is packaged as a fashion social enterprise that aims for the triple bottom line – for the planet, for the people, and for profit.
Samantha Sanchez of Arooga Health
Meanwhile, Samantha says that the positive response to Arooga Health “is an inspiring validation that mental health matters and seeking help for mental wellness is not a sign of weakness.”
Arooga Health is a platform that provides employees and companies convenient access to trusted care providers for their emotional and mental wellness and needs. Arooga Health matches a user with trusted care providers based on their objectives, preferred schedule, and mode of interaction.