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The SDG Innovation Challenge is on again!

You are young, African, and want to work with like-minded people committed to making a difference from the grassroots level up? This ideathon is open to students, professionals, community activists, social entrepreneurs, changemakers, and all other interested folks in Africa: Awaken the SDG innovator in you and sign up today!

The SDG Innovation Challenge is your space to be!

Designed as a virtual, pan-African ideation space, the SDG Innovation Challenge is a powerhouse for young people from across the continent to come together and co-develop practical solution ideas to grassroots challenges while pushing the needle of sustainable development on a global scale. Conceived in 2020, this innovation challenge calls upon participants to employ their design and complex thinking skills that solve problems in a measurable and qualitative manner. The COVID-19 pandemic left a debilitating imprint: according to the World Bank, COVID-19 has pushed nearly 40 million people into extreme poverty in Africa and harmed the economy and livelihoods in multiple ways. 

The force of innovation sets the engine of sustainable growth running, developing initiatives that build resilience, empower lesser privileged sections of the population, alleviate environmental stress, and so on! Moreover, we emphasize collaboration and partnerships, in alignment with SDG 17 (Partnerships to achieve the goals), as a central axis around which our efforts are oriented!

With this background, we present the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022, which builds upon its precedents to create a bigger space for expanded outreach and wider horizons! Under the theme Transformative Solutions against Global Challenges – Accountability in Leveraging Youth Action to Create and Empower, the SDG Innovation Challenge converges young talent with three primary goals:

  • to trigger fresh thinking by connecting innovators from diverse backgrounds and sectors.
  • to develop fresh, practical approaches to furthering SDG impact through cross-boundary collaboration.
  • to ignite transformative action towards sustainable development and improved livelihoods of communities across Africa.

Following the huge success of the event in 2020 and 2021, the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022 is on again with amplified capacity this 28-30 November & 1-3 December 2022.

Why Participate?

The SDG Innovation Challenge is where motivated young Africans come together to co-develop practical innovations that further sustainable development of their local communities. There are numerous reasons to participate; here are a few of them:

  • Access to an unorthodox, dynamic, and diverse platform of youth activists, organizations, and legislators – Tap into a conducive online space to converge around practical SDG solutions!
  • A much-needed opportunity to visualize and implement the SDGs at the grassroots level – Participate in the making of our future, and jumpstart your involvement in the sustainable development agenda as an active, passionate global citizen.
  • Immense networking potential – Build connections, and be part of a community of practice around eco-systemic, collaborative solutions.
  • A space to exercise your global citizenship muscle – Sharpen and hone skills in leadership, innovation, cross-sector collaboration, analytic thinking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and allied areas.
  • Sourcing diversity of thought, background, and sector – Collaborate with people from a plethora of domains, be it engineering, design, civic policy, social justice reform, project management, finance, education, and many others.

Our unique pan-African innovation space that scripts SDG success stories!

Registrations for the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022 are closed, but here's how you can join in leveraging youth capacity towards SDG action.

How to Participate

To participate in one of the events happening virtually this 28-30 November & 1-3 December, you must register by 1 November 2022, before 8 PM GMT. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind!

Before registering, read through these consideration and keep these important points in mind:

  • Only groups of 4 to 7 people can register:
    To register, you must bring a group of 4-7 people – you included. What’s more, we encourage interdisciplinary group composition.
    When people from diverse realities or backgrounds meet and connect around a shared cause, that’s when true innovation happens: bridging realities, intersecting sectors, collaborating across boundaries, and building forward together.
    In short: Diversity is one of the core values of the SDG Innovation Challenge, and we encourage everyone to join our pre-event connector space on Facebook. Whether you’re an individual who’s looking for a group of like-minded people to register, or whether you already have a (small) group in mind but could use some more diversity of thought and talent: The connector space is a great opportunity to meet people who are committed to sustainable development and interested in participating in the event. It’s in your hands to find out more about each other – what motivates you, the skills you bring, the dreams you have, the communities you serve, etc. – and to come together in groups of 4-7 people and register for the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022!
  • Any idea entering the challenge must be at a nascent (early) stage at the most:
    This is an ideation marathon, not an accelerator program. If you already have a fairly refined idea or if you have your mind set on something specific and are not open to re-think, bringing different perspectives on board and possibly changing how the solution idea is shaping up eventually: do not register it. We’re here to spark fresh thinking, to unearth novel ideas through cross-boundary collaboration, and to converge around solutions ideas. It’s that mindset that will result in the biggest, most transformative impact, starting with your participation in the SDG Innovation Challenge.

Register your group by 1 November 2022 at 8 PM Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) … and take a chance at creating Africa’s next Winning Sustainable Solution idea!

The registration follows a two-step process:

  1. First, you must register your group – this can be done by any one person in that group. You must have the names and email addresses of the young innovators you’ll be working with at hand since you will be asked to provide that information in the online registration form.
    Please note: Whether you’re looking for a group to enter the Challenge, you would want some
    more diversity of thought and talent in your group, or you ‘just’ want to meet like-minded, committed people who care about the SDGs: our pre-event connector space on Facebook is the space to be. It’s open for business, whatever your business might be.
  2. After completing the group registration, the registrant will receive an email with instructions for the second step, the personal registry, where each group member must provide additional personal information that is required to make the event a full success. Both steps are equally important, and only groups who have completed both steps will be considered for participation in the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022.

All registrations will be screened and undergo a pre-selection. Selected participants will be confirmed by 11 November. Once selected, groups of 4-7 participants will enter our 48 hours innovation marathon EITHER from 28-30 November OR from 1-3 December to build a team and unpack challenges faced by their local communities and relating to the Challenge theme. Together, they design practical solution ideas to strike at the roots of problems and tackle them bottom-up!

The solution ideas submitted during the event will then be assessed by an independent panel of judges. The ideas with the highest evaluation will have the opportunity to present their proposal at the 5th African Youth SDGs Summit, Africa’s biggest Sustainable Development Youth congregation. In addition, the top teams receive continued support in the form of digital literacy tools for startup upscale, support for business modeling and business registration, recommendations for investment match-making opportunities, access to business incubation, pro-bono mentorship, and more. To crown it all, an SDG Innovation Fund will soon launch to crowdsource financial support for leading project ideas!

What We Seek

The SDG Innovation Challenge is open to participation from young people across Africa.

You want to work across domains and gain insights into the brightest minds tackling sustainable development from the grassroots level up? Here is an opportunity for young, pan-African social innovators and entrepreneurs to change the world, one idea at a time!

  • A connection to this year’s challenge theme: Transformative Solutions against Global Challenges – Accountability in Leveraging Youth Action to Create and Empower
  • Passion, drive, and commitment to improving livelihoods in your community and beyond
  • A genuine interest in sustainable development and desire to contribute to advancing the SDGs in your community and beyond
  • The motivation to work in an agile hackathon-like environment, to engage pro-actively, and to ideate extensively throughout the event.
  • Desire to connect and collaborate with people from different domains and geographies.
  • The ability to work in an interdisciplinary team
  • The commitment to take the idea to completion and remain engaged with the cause post the SDG Innovation Challenge

Registration for the challenge happens on a group basis. Please see the “How to Participate” section for more. 

Following the registration deadline, participants will receive further instructions about the activities and the technologies deployed during the event. And then, the challenge is on: Each participating group must be an interdisciplinary team and develop a solution idea which they will consolidate in a short video pitch at the end of the challenge.


The SDG Innovation Challenge 2022 is a 48-hours innovation marathon. Keep a close watch on this space to stay updated on the latest dates and times of the events!

Background and Trajectory

The SDG Innovation Challenge has witnessed two editions so far over the years 2020 and 2021, coinciding with the onset of the pandemic. Learn more about the tryst between Sustainable Development and Innovation!

The maiden edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge was held in 2020. With its thematic anchor – ‘ Securing the 2030 commitment beyond the post-COVID-19 Era ‘ – this marathon saw the framing of concepts that tackled SDG 3, SDG 4, and SDG 9. The event ended up contributing nearly 8 ideational blueprints and represented the potential talent in youth across the continent!

In 2021, the Challenge returned with double the capacity – it saw the registration scale tip 700 and resulted in as many as 20 solution ideas! As the figures grew, so did the impact and cross-domain networks. With cash prizes and numerous other incentives, the winners took home resources and aid that boosted their social innovation profiles and helped them act upon their creations!

Meet the Judges

Our panel of evaluators for the SDG Innovation Challenge 2021 includes experienced, diverse, and dynamic thought leaders from around the world!

Organizers and Collaborators

Embracing SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals, the SDG Innovation Challenge is a collaborative effort of numerous local, regional, and global organizations, including the following: