SDG Innovation Challenge 2022

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The SDG Innovation Challenge is on again!

You are young, African, and want to work together with like-minded people committed to making a difference from the grassroots level up? This ideathon is open to students, professionals, community activists, changemakers and interested folk in Africa :
Save the Date!

The SDG Innovation Challenge is your space to be!

Designed as a virtual, pan-African ideation space, the SDG Innovation Challenge is a power-house for young people from across the continent to come together in developing and connecting practical solution ideas to grassroots challenges while pushing the needle of sustainable development on a global scale. Conceived in the pandemic era in 2020, this challenge calls upon participants to employ their design and complex thinking skills that solve problems in a measurable and qualitative manner. The 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 has the power to set the engine of sustainable growth running, developing initiatives that build resilience, aid lesser privileged sections of the population, alleviate environmental stress, and so on! Moreover, we emphasize on 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 practical, impact-oriented solution ideas 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 launching with amplified capacity this 22-24 September 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.

How to Participate

To participate in this event happening virtually this 22-24 September, you must register by 4 September, 2022 before 8PM GMT.

Before registering, here are some rules to keep in mind:

  • Only groups of 4 to 7 people can register : so read on, because the important stuff is yet to come:
    Diversity is one of the core values of the SDG Innovation Challenge. When people from diverse realities or backgrounds meet and connect around a shared cause, that’s when the true innovation happens: bridging realities, intersecting sectors, collaborating across boundaries, building forward together.
    In short: we value diversity and encourage anyone interested in participating in the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022 to join our pre-event connector space on Facebook. Whether you’re an individual who’s looking for a group of likeminded 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 have a fairly refined idea already or if you have your mind set on something specific and are not open to re-think or bring different perspectives on board, which would probably change 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, 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 4 September 2022 at 8 PM Greenwich Mean Time  … 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 of that group. Important is that you have the names and email addresses of the young innovators you’ll be working with at hand.
  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 in order 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 9 September. Once selected, groups of 4-7 participants will engage over the course of 48 hours from 22-24 September 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 to 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!

Register today and join a unique pan-African ideation space for young people to come together in developing and connecting practical solution ideas to grassroots challenges while pushing the needle at a global scale.

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 engage pro-actively throughout the event
  • The ability to work in an interdisciplinary team from different domains and geographies
  • Motivation to extensively ideate throughout the SDG Innovation Challenge and work in an agile hackathon like environment
  • The commitment to take the idea to completion and remain engaged with the cause post the SDG Innovation Challenge

Registration to 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.

Save the Date! Join the SDG Innovation Challenge 2022!

Applications close on 4th September 2022, 8 PM GMT.

Background and Trajectory

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 up to 500 USD, the winners took home resources and aid that boosted their social innovation profiles and helped them act upon their creations!

Get inspired by the impact created by our previous editions below!

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:

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