Tanzanian Julius Shirima has been announced as the winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, after founding a microventure capital fund and entrepreneur network.
The awards ceremony took place in London, United Kingdom (UK) and recognises the efforts of individuals under the age of 29 in promoting youth empowerment, education and entrepreneurship, the environment, and gender equality.
Shirima won the overall pan-Commonwealth Youth Award for his efforts in helping young people turn enterprising concepts into profitable ventures, while he was also announced as the recipient of the Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Award.
“Winning the pan-Commonwealth Youth Award confirms to me and my team that we should continue with the work we are doing because it is having a positive impact on young people’s lives. I feel really humbled to receive this prize. The outlook of the other finalists has also taught me a lot. All of the young people here are united by the drive to improve our communities,” Shirima said.
Shirima founded Darecha, a youth entrepreneurship organisation and micro-venture company, while still in high school. Darecha has a network of approximately 5,000 young people and enables young Tanzanian entrepreneurs to transform their business ideas into profitable ventures which provide employment to other young people. His business model has also been adopted in other countries.
The pan-Commonwealth Youth Award includes a cash prize of GBP5,000 (US$7,500) for Shirima to reinvest in his work.
Kamalesh Sharma, Commonwealth secretary-general, who presented the awards, said: “The Commonwealth Youth Awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of these outstanding young people, and demonstrate to leaders and other policy makers the value and importance of young people’s role in national development. Importantly, the awards also serve to inspire other young people to take action in their communities. We are delighted, once again, to have such very worthy winners.”
Individuals from Pakistan,Trinidad and Tobago, and Samoa also picked up awards at the ceremony.