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Ugandan wins Commonwealth Youth Awards
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Ugandan wins Commonwealth Youth Awards


“True, I am young, but for souls nobly born, valour doesn’t await the passing of years “– this quote from Pierre Corneille is true of Galabuzi Brian Kakembo.

At just 25 years, this Ugandan innovator and social entrepreneur will go down in history as the regional finalist for Africa and Europe, and the overall winner of Commonwealth Youth Awards for 2020.

The young Ugandan, whose face is always bright with a smile, won the competition on March 11 after topping more than 500 projects from 40 countries.

Commonwealth Youth Awards 2020 winner Brian Kakembo from Uganda receives award from Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland

Brian was selected for the work of Waste To Energy Youth Enterprise (WEYE), an initiative he started in 2015. He and his team of 10 employees produce eco-friendly charcoal, using biodegradable plastics and organic waste. The coal is sold to households, poultry farmers, hotels, universities and other local institutions.

“We use half of the profits generated by the company to finance awareness programmes in our community,” says the young entrepreneur. He and his team have already trained nearly 800 women and young people to do commercial plastic waste recycling as a business.

In addition, they have awarded scholarships to three students from Ndejje University and three students from St Kizito High School in Namugongo.

How it all started

Brian grew up in a poor community. He had to fight for survival. But at the age of 20, he seized an opportunity that has changed his life and positively impacted his community and country.

“I started my initiative as a simple project in 2015. I had the chance to attend the International Student Energy Summit where I developed my waste-to-energy project as part of the innovation session. I then worked on the idea in partnership with the Ndejje University and St Kizito High School in Namugongo and when we achieved positive results, I registered the project,” explains the young winner.

An eco-responsible solution

This innovative and eco-responsible social enterprise is a godsend for this East African country where the management of waste, including plastics, is a major challenge.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that improper disposal of plastic waste leads to air pollution and more specifically is responsible for the deaths of 2.3 million people, not to mention the harmful effects of plastics on the climate.

Brian’s project is helping to address this issue while creating jobs and he has been receiving international recognition for it. In five years he has received the iF Social Impact prize; he’s been awarded by Design-Germany (2017) and is the recipient of the Greenpreneurs Achievement Award from the Global Green Growth Institute in South Korea; winner of the Student Energy and Youth Climate Labs (2018); he has also copped the Africa Energy Innovation Competition prize which is awarded by the Nigeria Energy Forum (2019).

The Commonwealth Youths Awards has added even more glory to Brian’s journey, which remains a source of inspiration for many young people across the African continent and the Commonwealth.

The other regional award winners are:

Asia: Hafiz Usama Tanveer, Pakistan, bringing clean water to poor communities (focus on SDG 6: clean water and sanitation)

The Caribbean and Canada: Sowmyan Jegatheesan, Canada, providing one-stop information to prevent human-wildlife conflict (focus on SDG 15: life on land);

The Pacific: Sagufta Salma, Fiji, transforming waste into sustainable furniture (focus on SDG 12: responsible consumption and production).

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The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work highlights the contributions of young people who are making a difference in their communities and celebrates their contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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Photo Credit: The Commonwealth Secretariat and WEYE

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About me: Hi, I am Luchelle Feukeng. Journalism is my passion. My dream is to become an international journalist. I like writing on everything that is related to ICT. I want to become the queen of the web through my writings. I think a computer and little effort are enough to change the world.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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