Catherine-Kipsang-1MTN, the National Host Sponsor of the 2013 One Young World Summit, the first to be held in Africa, selected 24 youth delegates from 19 of its markets across Africa and the Middle East to attend the Summit to be held in Johannesburg from 2-5 October 2013.

Now in its 4th year and MTN’s 3rd year as a sponsor, the Summit is a platform for young people between the ages of 18 and 30 from around the world, to debate and formulate solutions to global pressing issues.

Sylvere Mwizerwa, one of 24 delegates sponsored by MTN, uses banana waste to create affordable sanitary pads for his community in Rwanda.

Mwizerwa (27), a Business Development Officer at Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) in Rwanda, works with more than 600 banana growers, mostly women and girls from poor communities, to produce affordable sanitary pads using agro-waste.

“I provide them with the necessary banana fibre extraction skills. Today they are able to produce banana fibres and sell them to SHE, which are then transformed into the fluff to make sanitary pads,” he says.

Mwizerwa says in the near future, the women and girls will be able to open their own franchises and sell affordable sanitary pads.

“The women and girls will be taught basic accounting skills in order to empower them to run their own businesses.”

Aside the 24 delegates, MTN plans to select an additional two delegates this month to represent South Africa.

Rich Mkhondo, Executive for Group Corporate Affairs at MTN says: “One Young World gives MTN a platform to connect young people and contribute towards the nurturing of future leaders. We are proud to be a part of such a great initiative, and believe that our contribution will go some way towards making the lives of our youths and communities a whole lot brighter.”

Mkhondo adds: “The conference has had a tremendous impact on past delegates. Many of them are active goodwill ambassadors in their countries, involved in a range of projects, including education, business, climate change and access to health.”

One such ambassador is Janice Pratt (23) from Liberia. She was sponsored by MTN Lonestar Cell to attend the Summit held in Pittsburgh, in the United States of America last year.

“By being involved in initiatives like OYW, MTN is driving change for a better world through investing in young innovative minds with the energy and passion to bring about change. The lack of funds is a major hindrance for inspired young people who want to attend such events. MTN is filling that gap,” says Pratt.

At last year’s Summit, Pratt says she learnt various skills, including advocacy, how to create youth employment opportunities and how to start a small project.

She used these skills to start various projects, including the Dream Big Foundation. The work carried out by her Foundation includes sourcing funding for young people who want to empower their communities.

“I became inspired to start the Foundation after listening to a speaker who spoke about innovation and social change at the Summit,” adds Pratt.

Another OYW delegate who benefitted from MTN’s sponsorship is 25 year old, Isaiah Owolabi from Nigeria.

During the Summit in Pittsburg last year, Owolabi learnt community engagement skills and how to collaborate at all levels of the project. He has since been involved in various projects in his community, including environmental protection, malaria prevention, as well as sanitation and hygiene.

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