Four outstanding young people were honoured on Tuesday 10th March at the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, in recognition of their efforts to promote youth empowerment, education and entrepreneurship, the environment, and gender equality.
The awards celebrate young people aged 29 or under from Commonwealth countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Caribbean and Americas whose work has had a significant impact on people and communities in their country or region.
The winner of the overall pan-Commonwealth Youth Award 2015 is Mr Julius Shirima from Tanzania, aged 25, who founded a microventure capital fund and entrepreneur network that helps young businesspeople turn enterprising concepts into profitable ventures. As a result of his efforts, thousands of young people in Tanzania are today empowered, generating income and enjoying meaningful work.
At the prize giving ceremony in London, United Kingdom, Mr Shirima was also announced as the recipient of the Africa Region Commonwealth Youth Award.
Ms Gulalai Ismael from Pakistan was named Asia Region Commonwealth Youth Award winner and Ms Nolana Lynch from Trinidad and Tobago was announced Caribbean & Americas Commonwealth Youth Award winner.
Ms Brianna Frueann from Samoa, was named Pacific Region Commonwealth Youth Award winner. At the age of 16, Ms Frueann is the youngest ever recipient of a Commonwealth Youth Award.
The pan-Commonwealth Youth Award includes a cash prize of £5,000 for Mr Shirima, and £3,000 each for the other regional winners, to reinvest in their development work.
The awards were also presented by Commonwealth Deputy Secretaries-General Deodat Maharaj and Josephine Ojiambo, Commonwealth Secretariat Youth Affairs Director Katherine Ellis, as well as HE Nkwelle Ekaney, High Commissioner for Cameroon and HE Dr Ernest Hilaire, High Commissioner for Saint Lucia.
The winners were selected by regional adjudication panels made up of youth leaders, Youth Ministry officials, youth workers and staff of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Youth Division.
Commonwealth Youth Awards 2015 – Regional Winners
Mr Julius Shirima (Tanzania, age 25) founded Darecha, a youth entrepreneurship organisation and micro-venture company, while still in high school. Darecha, which has a network of approximately 5,000 young people, enables young Tanzanian entrepreneurs to transform their business ideas into profitable ventures which provide employment to other young people. His business model has also been adopted in other countries.
Ms Gulalai Ismael (Pakistan, age 28), at 16, established Aware Girls to provide young women with a platform for learning and advocacy. She led a team of 100 young female monitors of the 2013 Pakistan general elections, which examined the challenges to women’s electoral participation. Gulalai was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s Global Thinkers in 2013, and was the recipient of the 2014 International Humanist Award.
Ms Nolana Lynch (Trinidad and Tobago, age 27) created the eco-friendly, all-natural skin and hair care line Eco-Truffles, which uses sustainable raw materials from rural women producers throughout the Caribbean. She has also spearheaded sustainable agriculture projects in several Caribbean countries. Nolana served as the National Coordinator of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network, and was awarded the Trinidad and Tobago National Youth Award in 2013.
Ms Brianna Frueann (Samoa, age 16) at 11 founded ‘Small Voices’, an environmental NGO that carries out climate change and environment-related projects. She is also a leader of ‘Future Rush’, an environmental group that mobilises young people to run sustainable development projects in their communities. Brianna received a Young Environmental Activist Award from the Samoan government in 2013, and is also a member of the Pacific Youth Environment Network.