My name is Rebecca Kerubo, I’m an entrepreneur in the building and construction field in Kenya. I’m attending the 6th edition of the E4Impact MBA in Nairobi, where I’m working on Great Concepts General Trading LTD, a building enterprise that provides modern rental housing which are affordable and durable for self-employed and salary earners in the lower-upper and medium income group.
At the end of January, under the sponsorship of E4Impact, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the 2017 ECOSOC youth forum “The role of youth in poverty eradication and promoting prosperity in a changing world” in New York, illustrating what I’m doing as young entrepreneur in Kenya. Being my first time in the United States I was really looking forward to visit the Country, interact with other youth and network for possible business partnerships.
The conference organized by United Nations was meant to be a platform where young people could contribute to policy discussions at the United Nations through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. The Forum allowed representatives of youth-led and youth-focused organizations and networks, youth advocates and others to dialogue with Member States, and to explore ways and means of promoting youth development and engagement.
It was opened by H.E. Mr. Frederick M. Makamure Shava, President of ECOSOC. He gave his opening and welcoming remarks, thereafter, through video link, Mr. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General gave his speech and encouraged us to work towards the realization of the SDGs. This was both exciting and encouraging to be addressed by him. Thereafter, came the ministerial roundtable where various member states representatives and the civil society were queried by the youth delegates on the ways they have addressed the needs of their youth particularly pertaining to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs. In addition, the involvement of the young people in their efforts as targets and actors of public policies. It was a lengthy and interactive discussion which was both eye opening towards understanding issues facing the youth globally and also encouraging seeing the efforts and achievements made.
There were breakout sessions for stakeholders to review the SDGs and how the youth can contribute to achieve them at the local level in order to create momentum for their achievements on a global scale. During this time, I had an opportunity to visit The UN Kenyan mission office and interact with Kenya’s youth council who also attended the forum. I also interacted with UN staff, they were very cordial and helpful in connecting me with relevant offices that could offer assistance in our social enterprise.
On the second day of the conference, we had a regional breakout session to discuss issues specific to our regions and possible actions to address them. The session was moderated by Ms. Francene Muyumba, the president of the Panafrican Youth Union. We had interactive dialogue on issues facing the youth in Africa which are common all around the continent, these include poverty and unemployment.
I had an opportunity to open the discussion highlighting the plight of Kenya’s youth which is the high rate of unemployment, lack of vocational skills and thus the need for an industry relevant curricula in our education programs to enable the youth come up with innovative business models and run successful enterprises thereby achieving the Aspirations of Agenda 2063, particularly 1 and 6 as well as the SDGs. In addition to this I added that the youth need resources in order to launch and grow their enterprises, more especially, financial resources because it is essential for one to start and run a business. Similar sentiments were echoed by other delegates as well as the negative effects of civil war and the need for gender inclusion.
Thereafter, we resumed back to the Trusteeship Council Chamber where reports were read on the regional breakout sessions as well as discussions on the role of youth on poverty eradication and promoting prosperity. Later, there was a plenary session on the means of implementing and financing for youth development. There was an interactive discussion between youth delegates, civil society representatives and member states where it was concluded that more efforts should be made towards promoting development policies in support of youth through funding.
Finally, after the close of the forum I was also interviewed by the UN Swahili radio. I had the opportunity to give my views on the youth agenda as I did during the breakout session as well as the work Great Concepts General Trading Ltd. does, the achievements, impact, weaknesses and threats we face.
Thanks to E4Impact Foundation I had an incredible time discovering New York, interacting and networking. This experience undoubtedly inspired and motivated me!
Rebecca Kerubo Oywoki
LISTEN TO REBECCA’S RADIO INTERVIEW: http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/kiswahili/