On the 16th of August 2019, UNDP and UNICEF, in partnership with the Government of Timor-Leste, launched the first ever Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab. It is part of the biggest global learning network of 60 Accelerator Labs serving 78 countries around the world established with support from the State of Qatar and the Federal Republic of Germany.
The Accelerator Labs are designed to introduce new services and approaches by exploring current development challenges and opportunities, mapping local solutions and innovations, experimenting and testing a portfolio of solutions, and scale-up to solve the complexity of current 21st century development challenges.
The Accelerator Lab initiative in Timor-Leste aims to support innovative solutions across the country, with a special focus on reaching the 70% population living in rural areas, as well as young people not in school, training or employment.
“The Lab will help to unlock the potential of Timorese young people and local solutions that can be redesigned, tested, and scaled-up to respond to the complex development challenges of youth unemployment and poverty.” said Munkhtuya Altangerel, UNDP Resident Representative “We hope that the Lab can support the achievement of Timor-Leste’s vision to eradicate poverty and establish a sustainable, diversified economy by 2030,"
By valuing the local expertise, knowledge and innovations at grassroot community level, the Accelerator Lab offers a unique opportunity in ensuring the amplification of youth voices and their participation not as beneficiaries but as actors and changemakers in shaping the future they want to live in.
“This collaboration between UNDP, UNICEF and the Government of Timor-Leste means that we have the best chance of reaching even those in some of the most remote parts of the country, those who are the most disadvantaged, and those who have lacked the opportunity to reach their full potential.” said Valérie Taton, UNICEF Representative in Timor-Leste. “In reaching them, we hope to spur innovative thinking and solutions toward a sustainable future for people living across Timor-Leste”
Emphasizing the importance of youth empowerment and engagement as actors of development, H.E. Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, former President of Timor-Leste and Nobel Laureate encouraged the youth to study and be the best. “My advice to you all is to study, study and study, don’t just be good or better, be the best. Be proud of your community, your suko [village], don’t underestimate the sentiment of pride”
During the launching, around 100 local solutions providers, innovators, and entrepreneurs showcased their innovative project, product and services at the four booths representing each of Accelerator Lab learning cycle: sense-making, exploration, experimentation, and scale-up. Participants had the chance to engage in each booths’ activities to learn from history, express their views on the future they want, understand current challenges and seek future opportunities.
“I am now inspired to do something for my country. Learning about my history has given me ideas for the future. The speakers said it is up to the youth and I believe this too” said Dino, a law student from Dili National University, after attending the Sense Making and Storytelling booth.
“I did not know 3D technology was available. It is inspiring to see, and I want to explore more. I learn to be more confident and explore new ways of doing things,” said Jacinta, a youth from National High School in Dili.
Alongside other creative entrepreneurs, Cesar Trinito Freitas Gaio, Chef and Owner of Dilicious Timor Restaurant showcased healthy innovative Timorese cuisine and an innovative use of local material at the Scale-up and Grow booth “I am very happy to share our first ever biodegradable plate made from areca leave. Timorese plate for Timorese people and the world."
UNDP and UNICEF in collaboration with the government of Timor-Leste, will work with local communities, and particularly youth, to be innovators, entrepreneurs and solution providers to help Timor-Leste's economic growth and sustainable development.