Making hope contagious

Youth participants pose at the Namibia Business Innovation Institutes cafe.

Rlabs Namibia in partnership with Namibia Business Innovation Institute (NBII) recently launched its first youth for youth event that showcased social innovations and enterprises driven by young people.

This event was held at the Innovation Village in Windhoek and guests from different sectors and across the country which included the Rector of Polytechnic of Namibia, Ambassador of Finland, USAID, UNICEF, Private Sector, Public Sector as well as representatives from Civil Society, converged and celebrated with the RLabs Namibia.
The theme for the day was Social Innovation and it was highlighted by many of the speakers that the social plight of society requires a generation of young people to stand up and drive change through new ideas and innovations that can make a difference in uplifting their communities.
The process of Social Innovation Process was shared among the participants in realising the discovery of a solution to a challenge as well as understating the problem by digging deeper into the problem and exploring ways to interpret what has been learned from the problem.
The youth that attended the event had an opportunity to do a short workshop facilitated by RLabs Namibia on applying Social Innovation thinking to a real challenge in their local communities.
In 90 minutes the group of youth identified and co-created more than 20 solutions that could be pursued in their communities to drive social change.
Meanwhile, Rlabs academy has strong entrepreneurship, social and new media component and technology developments and it uses these tools in the form of digital story telling.
Rlabs provides the academy with innovative ways in its ‘undisciplined’ training method by using a ‘Play & Learn’ approach.
The academy also makes use of a train the trainer approach by providing new champions for the local Rlabs.
The teams for the academy included, paid staff and volunteers who usually form the larger group. Collaborations are often formed with other organisation or experts to provide needed assistance in these activities.
The courses conducted are free to community members but costs are charged for organisation, businesses.
Emilia Shikwamhanda, Rlabs coordinator said that they typically work with unemployed youth from the age of 18 to 25 years with courses running from 2 weeks to 20 days.
“The only criteria is that they should be unemployed and be able to communicate in English,” she said. Shikwamhanda added that more than once course can be taken at a time and that the applications are accepted in the form of a letter of motivation.