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  • A group of solar energy technician trainees take part in a vocational training programme designed to equip youth with job-ready skills.
    AKF Egypt
A message from Aswan’s young entrepreneurs for World Environment Day

Aswan, the third biggest city in Egypt, is a busy market and tourist centre on the east bank of the Nile River. But while opportunities exist, there is a large disconnect between training that is available and the skills and products in demand in an Egypt that is both quickly modernising and grappling with the challenge of climate change. For Aswan’s youth, this often leads to unemployment, with limited opportunities to enter the job market.

To address a number of these challenges, the Aga Khan Foundation and Om Habibeh Foundation in Egypt undertook an initiative to improve economic opportunities in the Aswan governorate by strengthening the quality and range of technical and vocational training, professional training, entrepreneurship support programmes and employment services available to youth. The initiative, called the Aswan Skills Development Programme, worked to improve employment and employability for 6,000 young women and men.

In partnership with Seneca College in Toronto, the programme is strengthening the quality and range of training, support programmes and employment services available to young women and men in the region.

As part of the programme, an entrepreneurial pitch competition was held in 2019, supporting young business talent in the region. This World Environment Day, we want to share some messages from some of the semi-finalists:

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Mohamed (left) and Abou Bakr (right).
Copyright: 
AKDN / Conrad Koczorowski
Mohamed (left) and Abou Bakr (right) have backgrounds in tourism, and a passion for conservation. They pitched a zero-waste, fully solar eco-lodge that would educate tourists and preserve the natural habitat.

“We’re not living alone on this Earth. There are other creatures that have the right to live. Our role is not to be selfish; we must preserve the environment for future generations.”

 

 

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Basma (left) and Fatma (right).
Copyright: 
AKDN / Conrad Koczorowski
Basma (left) and Fatma (right) are artisans. They pitched a partnership with large factories to obtain scrap wood and leather, which they divert from the landfill and turn into high-end carvings and leather work.

“We need to utilise environmental resources in a safe way. As [young entrepreneurs], we need to think of how we can recycle and re-utilise to limit our impact on the environment around us.”

 

 

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Fatma (left) and Shereen (right).
Copyright: 
AKDN / Conrad Koczorowski
Fatma (left) and Shereen (right) have identified ways to use discarded tree products to make popular handicrafts, like baskets and purses. Their solution is low-cost, eco-friendly and popular with tourists.

“The planet gives us life and preserves us. We now need to think about how we can preserve it for all of us!”

 

 

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Huda.
Copyright: 
AKDN / Conrad Koczorowski
Huda is pursuing a patent for a solar-powered, high-efficiency oven that can be controlled by mobile phone and smart home technology. It is the first of its kind in Egypt, and a global innovation.

“Start the right way! Start with yourself. And respect the resources that we have been given. We need to start sharing awareness, especially with young people, and start thinking of how modern technology can help us reduce harm to the planet.”

 

 

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Ahmed Abdul Hamied.
Copyright: 
AKDN / Conrad Koczorowski
Through market research, Ahmed Abdul Hamied noticed produce packaging was one of the biggest sources of non-renewable waste in Aswan. As a solution, he created packaging supplies out of 100% recycled paper and plant products.

“We have the right to develop and grow our business, but we cannot harm the planet. We need to support the environment in its rehabilitation. We should stop cutting trees and look at other ways that we can produce the same products.”