Energy and marine equipment manufacturer Wärtsilä has partnered with youth entrepreneurship and skills development initiative Ambitious.Africa to foster sustainable development.
The partners will connect students, entrepreneurs, startup companies, financiers and various stakeholders from Africa and Europe to address common challenges through a novel approach aimed at empowering future generations.
This collaboration highlights the need for more cross-pollination of aims and dialogue between businesses and the communities they serve, the company says.
As a corporation with global and local perspectives, Wärtsilä’s intention is to engage with the societies in which it operates. "This means going beyond merely encouraging local employment and supply contracts and, by aligning with Ambitious.Africa, the company can add initiatives aimed at providing the knowledge, skills, and training that will support these efforts," it states.
“The challenges we face as a society, from education to income inequality, and civil rights to healthcare and climate change, need novel ideas and solutions. As a company with a long history, both in Africa and the Nordics, we know the real benefit of joining forces across a broad spectrum of ideas and talent,” says Wärtsilä Energy Africa & Europe VP Björn Ullbro.
“Through our partnership with Ambitious.Africa, we seek to engage student and entrepreneur communities to muster the true strength of a digitally native generation whose ideas are not limited by geography or politics. My hope is that we tap the magic of boundless creativity, and my dream is that many future leaders will rise through this partnership to change the world for the better,” he explains.
The partnership will undertake three main projects during the year; two focusing on local communities in Morocco and Nigeria and a third will involve students at African and Nordic universities.
In Nigeria, Ambitious.Africa will be hosting a six-part webinar for Master's degree students, to learn about various sustainability issues. They will also participate in an Ideathon that could lead to potential solutions for positive change.
The programme will end with an on-site event at the University of Ibadan on April 24, which will include presentations on sustainability developments by experts from Wärtsilä and other world-renowned organisations. The participants will also be invited to participate in a workshop on innovative new solutions to tackle issues raised during the programme.
In Morocco, Pitch it! will feature a competition where local entrepreneurs involved in agri-tech, green innovation and sustainability can pitch their ideas. Climate change threatens the African continent and the goal is to encourage young entrepreneurs to help solve emerging issues with new innovative solutions.
“We are not on pace to reach many critical [United Nations] Sustainable Development Goals with the speed at which they are needed. We need to be ready to experiment with new approaches and include youth in the development discourse,” says Ambitious.Africa co-founder Vincent Forsman.
“We believe that it takes connected ecosystems of non-governmental organisations, startups, small and medium-sized enterprises and prominent corporations to solve the problems we are currently facing. From our perspective, Wärtsilä is an ideal partner providing invaluable opportunities, both for young people and the communities in which they live,” he adds.
Combining the experience and know-how that Wärtsilä has, with the passion and ambition of the youth in Ambitious.Africa, is novel and a significant step towards empowering youth to take a significant role in shaping a sustainable future for themselves and their communities, Forsman states.