In just four days the group developed solutions to the most pressing problems from going to school to fighting gender inequality and unemployment. We spoke to Monitor Deloitte manager Frederikke Saust from Deloitte Denmark, who was part of the organising team, about her journey from Copenhagen to Singapore, back to Copenhagen and on to Nairobi!
Sounds amazing Frederikke, what is the Youth Innovation Lab?
“The Youth Innovation Lab gathers young talent from northern and eastern Africa in a five day innovation lab, where they join forces to come up with solutions to the most pressing problems by their communities – from keeping young girls off the streets in Addis Ababa to preventing girls from dropping out of school due to teenage pregnancy in Nairobi.”
“The workshop is rooted in three of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations (UN) – Quality Education, Gender Equality and Decent Work and Economic Growth – which form the foundation of the Innovation Lab. The Youth Innovation Lab in Nairobi in October 2019 was the first Youth Innovation Lab in Save the Children’s history. The hope is to run two further Youth Innovation Labs next year in Western Africa and Bangladesh.”
How did you get involved in the first place?
“Last year, I was so privileged to be selected to participate in UNLEASH in Singapore. Over five days, I worked on a solution to secure access to education for all girls in the world. Here I met Helle Gudmandsen, Head of Global Education for Save the Children Denmark, who helped us to qualify our ideas. After UNLEASH, our group decided to hand over the solution to Save the Children, as they were very interested in taking it forward.”
“A couple of months later, Helle contacted me, because she was very inspired by the approach used in Innovation Labs and she wanted to pilot a similar lab within Save the Children – beginning with a pilot in northern and eastern Africa. She asked if I would get involved as a subject matter expert for the group. I was of course very proud and extremely motivated to take on this role. Participating in UNLEASH had opened my eyes for what “impact that matters” means in practice – and being able to continue working on securing education for more girls in the world was a dream come true.”
“During the last year, I participated in a couple of workshops with an international project group, led by Save the Children in Copenhagen. Here, we built on the idea and developed what would turn out to be the Youth Innovation Lab.
In August, Helle called to say that funding was in place and we could pilot the Innovation Lab in Nairobi, Kenya in October. And she wanted me to come along to help facilitate and test the lab. My answer was of course, ‘yes!'”
Tell us about your experience in Nairobi?
“The Youth Innovation Lab took place in Nairobi in from 14 – 18 October. It was an amazing experience working with the 45 young people from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan. They all came with completely different backgrounds – however all from very marginalised areas of their regions. Some had completed school, some had not. Some spoke fluent English, some did not.”
“The stories the young people told about their communities, and the problems they wanted to solve, left me very humble. On the final day, when they presented their solutions, I was so proud – proud of the solutions they presented, and what the Youth Innovation Lab represented. Two things stood out for me. First of all, how everyone can be innovators and problem-solvers with the right set-up.”
“Secondly, I was impressed and inspired at the way the young people worked together, despite their diverse backgrounds. They set aside the gender, peace or other conflicts in their home countries and channelled their energy into solving the matters close to their hearts.”
“Using the skills Deloitte has given me – how to frame an issue, ask the right questions, analyse data, design solutions and, most importantly, drive a team forward – to help bring education to all girls in the world made so much sense. I left Africa with a very clear impression of the true meaning of our Purpose at Deloitte – and I’m proud of everything we can do to make the world a better place.”