Posted by : Posted on : 23-Mar-2019

23 March 2019

Solomon Islands:  Economic development and youth enterprise could be aided by commercial sponsorship.

Young Bobby Siarani, from the Solomon Islands, was one of the four winners of the recent Commonwealth Youth Award.

Bobby achieved recognition for his efforts to end hunger, sexual violence, sanitation issues and climate change. He founded a bio-gas initiative to address waste disposal and sanitation issues.

He plans to use his Commonwealth grant to take his initiative to remote areas in the Solomon Islands.

Commenting on his initiative, Bobby said, "My project delivered biogas-based construction workshops to more than 500 young people and provided clean energy to hundreds of people in the rural areas."

He went on to say, that he is planning to expand the project in the rural areas.

"Around 70 per cent of the total population is in the rural areas. My project will address sanitation needs of our people, he added”

Dame Patricia Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said, “The pace, depth and scope of development in any society depended on how well its youth were nurtured and supported.”

 She said young people must be provided with the space to thrive, to contribute and to realize their potential.

"In such an environment, they are able to exercise their rights and citizenship and to find fulfillment and purpose; passing onto others the gains and positive values that comes from the true community."

From more than 500 nominations from over 45 countries, 16 finalists were chosen by a panel of judges including representatives of high commissions, partner organisations and young leaders, before the final four were selected.

Source: Commonwealth Secreteriat

Also in March it was reported that the Malaita Youth in Business Association (MYIBA), was one of the recipients of three awards during the Pacific Agrihack Lab competition in Tonga last December 2018.

The event sought to scale-up novel and existing ICT innovations to improve economic activities within agricultural value chains.

MYIBA is made up of rural, business-minded youths from Malaita in the Solomon Islands, and has a vision to bring together young entrepreneurs to work around livestock.

More specifically, the initiative aims to provide a networking platform for young people to share information and entrepreneurship experiences, and attract more youths into farming through the innovative use of ICTs by utilising the MalAgri app. The app is a collaborative effort among several stakeholders including MYIBA and Youth@Work programme.

MYIBA was represented by Watson Cyrus Anikwai (MYIBA member) and Hika Joseph (MYIBA Member & Advisor), who competed against 15 other finalists across the Pacific. The competition was part of the project, Promoting Nutritious Food Systems in the Pacific Islands, which is coordinated by CTA, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization.

The aim of the project is to strengthen the capacity of the Pacific Island governments, farmers, private sector organisations, and sub-regional institutions to develop strategies and programmes to have better access to healthy food.

Software development in Solomon Islands has certainly made a positive impression on the regional front and will inspire other young people interested in software development to test out their ideas against peers in the region and internationally.

Source: and Solomon Times on Line.

Bobby Siarani and the Malaita Youth In Business award winners are heartily congratulated on their enterprising initiatives resulting in recognition and financial support for their respective projects.

Baroness Scotland was right to have said of youth support and development (quote)

“Young people must be provided with the space to thrive, to contribute and to realize their potential,”

It would be my hope that the incoming government (following the national General Election on 3 April 2019) would do more than what was done in the past to engage all sections of Solomon Islands society, especially the commercial sectors to engage with young women and men in the support and development of youth-owned and managed enterprises.

The SIG should create the policy, legal and regulatory framework for youth-owned and managed enterprises.

This would require deliberate and coordinated efforts by government departments to work collaboratively to ensure the economic participation of young women and men is inextricably linked to their policy and strategic frameworks.

The SIG should collaborate more frequently than has been the case in the past and monitor the involvement of youth enterprise and ensure the voice of youth businesses is heard in economic and enterprise development policy.

Likewise, youth development organizations should promote the value of entrepreneurship and business development.

The business community in the Solomon Islands should be encouraged to engage young people who are already in business and seriously consider sponsoring young people in “enterprise reward” programmes such as exist in other countries where youth unemployment is also a concern.

There are such programmes currently functioning in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Nigeria but I expect in many other countries too.

Taking Nigeria for example, the Shell Oil Company sponsors a youth enterprise programme designated as ‘Shell Live WIRE’ and the company has awarded a total of US $75,200 in funding to 21 young entrepreneurs who successfully completed enterprise development programmes.

Each of the 21 young participants received funding ranging from US $2,500 to US$5,000 to enable them to start and grow their own businesses.

In the most recent programme that I am aware of over 14,000 young people applied for a place and following a rigorous screening process, 150 were selected to attend intensive enterprise development programmes which enabled the participants to gain the essential skills required to start-up and grow a successful business.

Following the training, the candidates had to undergo a written test and then had to pitch their business ideas to an expert panel of judges.  As a result of that process, 21 budding young entrepreneurs were selected to receive the funding they required to turn their business ideas into a business reality.

One of the successful applicants was given enough money to start her own business providing feminine hygiene products aimed at women from low-income households.

Since2003, Shell LiveWIRE Nigeria has trained and empowered over 6,000 young people, of which 3,000 have been assisted to set up businesses through the programme’s start-up awards. Also, the businesses graduating from the most recent programme have achieved a combined profit of around (US $50,000).

Nigeria is a much bigger country than the Solomon Islands but commercial sponsorship of would-be young entrepreneurs should be encouraged at home and the success of Bobby Siarani and the youths of the Malaita Business Association, competing on the world stage for recognition of their enterprising skills, surely proves there are likely many more young people in the Solomon Islands with hidden talents that sponsorship could help them to become successful business men and women.

Procrastination is the thief of time so let us see in 2019 how we can better support our young people.

Yours sincerely

Frank Short







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