Youth discuss community issues at the social innovation and entrepreneurship workshop in Gizo, Western Province on 31 October 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

Gizo, Solomon Islands –
In an effort to empower youth to develop new approaches to social issues, nearly 100 young people from across Western Province gathered in Gizo for a social innovation and entrepreneurship workshop this week.

As youth make up about 70 percent of the population in Solomon Islands, they play a critical role in peacebuilding and achieving sustainable development.

The two-day workshop, organized by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund (UNPBF) project in collaboration with the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs through the Western Province Youth Desk, introduced young leaders and changemakers to the concepts of social innovation and entrepreneurship to help them solve challenges affecting their communities.

In opening the workshop, UNPBF project Youth Empowerment and Engagement Officer Regina Lepping challenged participants to consider how they can make a social impact and work towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“Youth are creative and have ideas about how to make a better future for themselves and their country,” Ms. Lepping said.

“This workshop will connect young people with information and opportunities to help turn their vision into a reality.”

Olive Boso Rokoto presents a recycling idea at the social innovation and entrepreneurship workshop in Gizo on 1 November 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)
About 100 youth from across Western Province participate in the social innovation and entrepreneurship workshop in Gizo on 1 November 2018. (Photo: UNDP/Merinda Valley)

In addition to sessions on key principles of social entrepreneurship and innovation, participants received an interactive lesson about design thinking and startup methods.

“The activities we did broadened our way of thinking, so it helped us,” said participant Giftson Semi, who developed a small business model to improve waste management in Gizo and create job opportunities for unemployed youth.

“I think if we implemented the ideas, it would really help our community,” he said.

The workshop was the first in a series of activities leading up to the Western Province Youth Peacebuilding Innovation Forum to be held in Gizo from 20 to 22 November.

Workshop participants will be invited to apply for an innovation boot camp that will help them refine solutions related to social cohesion, peacebuilding, civic engagement and youth unemployment or underemployment.

Teams of innovators will build and test prototypes before pitching them at the provincial innovation forum for the chance to win seed funding and other support to start their social enterprise.

The UNPBF project’s manager, Tony Cameron, emphasized the importance of harnessing the potential of youth in Western Province and aiding their efforts to tackle persistent social challenges.

“Young people are valuable resources. Their inspiration and enthusiasm needs to be considered as part of national peacebuilding discourse,” Mr. Cameron said.

“Supporting young innovators brings communities and the country closer together, fulfilling the vision for sustainable peace and development.”

The UNPBF project aims to support peaceful and inclusive transition in Solomon Islands, jointly implemented by UNDP and UN Women in close collaboration with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace and the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs.

Contact information:

For media queries, please contact: Ms. Merinda Valley, Communications Specialist, email:; tel: (677) 27446 ext. 5527

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