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The 2023 edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge is here!

Are you a young African with a desire to collaborate with others who share your passion for creating positive change starting from the local level? If you are a student, professional, community activist, change-maker, or simply someone interested in making a difference on the continent and in the world, the SDG Innovation Challenge is the place to be!

Mobilizing African Youth for Sustainable Impact 

Designed as a virtual, pan-African collaboration space, the SDG Innovation Challenge is a powerhouse for young Africans (18-35 years) to develop cross-boundary, sustainable solutions to grassroots challenges in order to further the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) from the grassroots level up. Since 2020, this challenge has called upon participants to employ creativity, collaboration, and complex thinking to tackle problems measurably and systematically. 

Innovation is a force that sets the engine of sustainable development running, uncovering initiatives that build resilience, contribute to more equitable resource distribution, further inclusion, alleviate environmental stress, and so on! Moreover, we emphasize collaboration and partnerships, in alignment with SDG 17 (Partnerships For The Goals), as a central axis around which our efforts are oriented!

With this background, we present the SDG Innovation Challenge 2023, which builds upon its precedents to create a bigger space for expanded outreach and broader horizons! Coinciding with the Global Goals Week (15 -23 September) the SDG Innovation Challenge 2023 supports the annual week of action, awareness, and accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals, promising to join hands with over 150 global partners to mobilize, demanding urgency to turn it around for the global goals and supercharge solutions for people and the planet.

Under the theme Mobilizing the African Youth for Sustainable Impact, the SDG Innovation Challenge 2023 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.


Why Participate?

The SDG Innovation Challenge is where motivated young people from across the African continent 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 legislatorsTap into a conducive online space to converge around practical SDG solutions!

  • A much-needed opportunity to visualize and implement the SDGs at the grassroots levelParticipate in the making of our future and jumpstart your involvement in the sustainable development agenda as an active, passionate global citizen.

  • Immense networking potentialBuild connections, and be part of a community of practice around eco-systemic, collaborative solutions.

  • A space to exercise your global citizenship muscleSharpen and hone skills in leadership, innovation, cross-sector collaboration, analytic thinking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and allied areas.

  • Sourcing diversity of thought, background, and sectorCollaborate with people from many different domains, including engineering, design, civic policy, social justice reform, project management, finance, education, and many others.

How to Participate

To participate virtually on 21-23 September, you must register by 31 August, 2023 before 11:59 PM GMT.

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

  • Only groups of 4 to 7 people can register! Read on because the important stuff is yet to come:
    Diversity is one of the core values of the SDG Innovation Challenge, and we encourage anyone interested in participating in the SDG Innovation Challenge 2023 to join our pre-event connector space on Facebook to connect in diversity early. Because when people from diverse realities and backgrounds connect around a shared cause, real innovations shape up.
    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 an excellent 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 2023!

Once again, don’t forget to join the Pre-Event Connector Space here!

  • Any idea entering the challenge must be at a nascent (early) stage at the most: This is an ideation space, 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 bringing 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, unearth novel ideas through cross-boundary collaboration, and 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.
  • Be committed to further developing ideas that emerge from the challenge: All ideas that are successfully submitted at the end of the 48-hour ideathon will be provided with mentoring and incubation opportunities and support. Each participant must be committed to being present throughout the entire challenge, contribute to the success of their ideation team, attend virtual sessions during the mentoring and incubation and work diligently together with team members to improve the original idea and make an effort to implement it in the near future.

Register your group by 31 August 2023 11:59 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 in 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 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 2023.

All registrations will be screened and undergo a pre-selection.

Selected participants will be confirmed by 11 September. Once selected, groups of 4-7 participants will engage over the course of 48 hours from 21-23 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!

An independent panel of judges will then assess the solution ideas submitted during the event.

The best-evaluated teams will then compete for the prestigious Award Winning Package, which includes access to top-nudge incubation and mentoring support to further their project. Plus, there is the opportunity for the most transformative initiatives to showcase their initiative at the next 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.

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. Do 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!

All project ideas should:

  • Have a connection to the overarching theme: Mobilizing African Youth for Sustainable Impact 

  • Be able to connect to one or more key themes

  • Contribute to change of mindset and behavior in their community

  • Contribute to a more inclusive society

  • Must demonstrate Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI), Changing Mindsets & Behaviour, Employment, Digital Transformation, Partnerships and Collaborations

Key Themes/Focus Areas

  • Energy & Carbon Reduction 

  • Health & Wellbeing  

  • Food & Nutrition (Agriculture) 

  • Education 

  • Water & Sanitation

Applicants must:

  • Share a passion, drive, and commitment to improving livelihoods in your community and beyond
  • Have a genuine interest in sustainable development and a desire to contribute to advancing the SDGs in your community and beyond
  • Possess the motivation to engage pro-actively throughout the event
  • Be able to work in an interdisciplinary team from different domains and geographies
  • Have the motivation to extensively ideate throughout the SDG Innovation Challenge and work in an agile hackathon-like environment
  • Be committed to taking the idea to completion and remain engaged with the cause after 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.


We are thrilled to introduce you to the passionate and dedicated team behind the 2023 edition of the SDG Innovation Challenge. The organizers have come together to drive positive change and inspire innovative solutions across Africa, that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).