Kenya’s C4DLab partners UNICEF to promote innovation for youth

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The University of Nairobi’s innovation hub C4DLab has partnered the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to collaborate on promoting innovation to empower young people.

C4DLab and UNICEF are already jointly involved in rolling out a design thinking course in Nairobi with Intel, but have signed an agreement focused on innovations targeting young people.

Specifically, the partnership will see the two organisations build a data lab for children, and build capacity to produce consumer-centered products.

UNICEF country representative in Kenya Dr Pirkko Heinonen said there was huge talent among Kenyan youth that needs to be developed, especially as the country is already known as an innovation hub.

“Kenya is often known as a crown jewel of innovation in the east and southern Africa. In a country where over six out of 10 people are children, the need to innovate has never been greater,” she said.

“We need to understand that out of a total of 20 million children in Kenya, almost 80 per cent are subjected to at least one level of deprivation, such as lack of access to water, malnutrition, lack of education and health, or access to services.”

Disrupt Africa reported last month UNICEF launched a US$9 million Innovation Fund for startups in emerging markets developing solutions with the potential to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable children.

The fund, which is still raising further capital, will invest in open source technologies for children, with UNICEF saying it is focused on areas – such as Africa – where funding is usually limited.

“We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups. We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children,” said Christopher Fabian, UNICEF innovation co-lead.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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