Business Empowerment Entrepreneurship

Eight African women-led businesses triumph in 2023 YouthADAPT challenge

In Abuja, the African Development Bank (AfDB) proudly announced the victory of eight vibrant African women-led enterprises in the 2023 YouthAdapt challenge. Each business is set to receive grant funding of up to $100,000, affirmed by a statement issued by the AfDB during the COP28 in Dubai.

These winners will also be enrolled in a comprehensive mentorship and coaching programme, spanning 12 months, as part of the initiative. Since its inception in 2021, YouthADAPT has disbursed over $5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs from 19 African nations, nurturing innovative climate change adaptation solutions.

Focused on empowering female-owned enterprises to steer Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, such as artificial intelligence and big data analytics, this year’s challenge also spotlighted ventures exploring virtual reality, robotics, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, additive manufacturing, blockchain, and fifth-generation wireless for climate adaptation.

AfDB President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, emphasised the significance of harnessing youth ideas and creativity for national prosperity, highlighting the bank’s commitment to creating 25 million jobs for African youth.


Prof. Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation, stressed the importance of nurturing Africa’s youthful talent, acknowledging that youth hold the key to unlocking the continent’s economic potential.

During a panel discussion, Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister for Sub-Saharan Africa, Cheryl Urban, praised the role of development finance institutions in scaling up youth-led climate businesses, affirming Canada’s support for the YouthADAPT initiative.

Dr. Beth Dunford, AfDB’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human, and Social Development, highlighted the importance of supporting entrepreneurs in tackling climate change and emphasised the necessity of removing financial barriers, especially for women.

The African Union Youth Envoy, Chido Mpemba, emphasised the necessity for effective information-sharing mechanisms across regions to foster development.


Lucy Wangari, one of this year’s recipients, expressed how the award will serve as a significant motivator for Onion Doctor, her firm specialising in monitoring onion growth in Kenya’s arid lands, aiming to boost local onion production and transform the value chain.

Past winners shared their experiences, with Fela Akinse, CEO of Salubata, expressing how the grant empowered their venture, aiding in the expansion and innovation of their plastic waste conversion business into affordable footwear.

These award-winning ventures, led by women across Africa, are dedicated to sectors deeply affected by climate change, including agriculture, energy efficiency, disaster risk management, water resources, and biodiversity conservation.

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