Page of the opening event
CAIRO, September 19, 2022: The Ministry of Youth and Sport (MoYS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have inaugurated the first innovation laboratory of its kind at the El Waily Youth Centre. In total, six innovation labs will be set up in Egypt with the support of the International Cooperation Office of the Embassy of Switzerland and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Egypt to develop social innovation, digital and entrepreneurship skills among young people, including refugees and migrants.
The opening event was attended by SE Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister for Youth and Sport, HE Ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Egypt, Dr. Valerie Liechti, Head of the Swiss Office for International Cooperation, part Embassy, Mr. Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt and Mr. Eric Oechslin, Director of the International Labor Organisation.
The Innovation Labs model is a new component in the Meshwary program. With the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Embassy of the Netherlands, UNICEF will set up innovation centers in youth centers in cooperation with MoYS. Each center is run by the Ministry of Youth and Sport. The model aims to contribute to the socio-economic empowerment of Egyptian and non-Egyptian youth by fostering their social innovation, digital and entrepreneurial skills to support them in their journey from learning to earning.
HE Dr. Ashraf Sobhy, Minister of Youth and Sport, stressed that the Ministry of Youth and Sport pays great attention to the field of innovation and entrepreneurship in the current era, especially the implementation of innovation labs in youth centers as part of its role in qualifying young people for the labor market and helps them to start small, medium and micro projects and businesses after graduation. These projects are of great importance to the Egyptian economy, in addition to the innovation labs playing a huge role in promoting social innovation, digital skills and entrepreneurship to support these youth.
The Minister for Youth and Sport said: “We want to have an innovation laboratory in every youth center to support and train young people to find suitable ideas for their own start-up projects. This will help continue our efforts to support the idea of entrepreneurship and encourage young innovators across all Egyptian governorates to discover, hone and nurture their talents while channeling these talents in the right direction, that of national development to serve.”
At the end of his speech, Dr. Ashraf Sobhi’s fruitful collaboration and longstanding partnership with UNICEF, particularly through the 14-year Mashwary program, which has reached nearly 400,000 young men and women in 15 governorates representing Upper Egypt and the Delta. dr Sobhi highlighted that the Meshwary program provides continuous capacity building and career guidance opportunities to young people, including people with different abilities, through two main components, the first is skills development and the second is career guidance.
Ambassador Han-Maurits Schaapveld, Ambassador of the Netherlands to Egypt, said: “The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a proud supporter of this initiative through the PROSPECTS partnership and hopes they will bring access, skills and a desire for improvement to all children in Egypt becomes their prospects. We hope this innovation lab will be a place for children, Egyptians, migrants and refugees to come together, learn and play.”
dr Valerie Liechti, Head of the International Cooperation Office of the Swiss Embassy, said: “It is our pleasure to be here today at the opening ceremony of the first innovation laboratory of its kind in youth centres, which is a new component under the ‘Meshwary’ programme; one of the main elements implemented under the Youth for the Future programme. We are proud of this partnership that has brought us together and also hope that young graduates of the innovation labs will present innovative solutions to major challenges in Egypt very soon.”
Mr Jeremy Hopkins, UNICEF Representative in Egypt, said: “We strongly believe that all young people must have access to the right skills that will enable them to be active citizens and agents of change in a changing world. Hopkins added; “Through this model, UNICEF will work in collaboration with MoYS and with the support of the Swiss Youth for Future program and the Dutch embassies of the Prospects program to ensure that all young people have access to such innovation labs over time where they can work on innovative ideas and expand their skills.”
The innovation lab model is an extension of the ‘Meshwary’ program which promotes employability and empowerment of young people. Meshwary has been under the auspices of the Prime Minister since May 2021 and has been governed by the Department for Youth and Sport since its inception in 2008. It has reached 400,000 young people with life skills and employability.