Two global initiatives launch side-by-side and call for youth-led innovative solutions to improve education, employment and civic engagement

Application Deadline: 31 October 2019

The Generation Unlimitted Youth Challenge and the Youth Co-Lab Innovation Challenge is organized as part of the Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab jointly launched by UNDP and UNICEF on the 16th of August 2019, one of the 60 Accelerator Labs serving 78 countries around the world. The Timor-Leste Accelerator Lab aims to map, explore, experiment and scale-up locally driven solutions to over 70% of the local population living in rural areas to solve the following persistent challenges:

  • Around 70% of the 1.2million population lives in rural areas, most of whom are dependent on subsistent agriculture and are very vulnerable to climate-induced disasters.
  • 38% of Timorese children under 5 are stunted and 20% are wasted (Standard of Living Survey, 2014), limited access to nutrition, health, water and sanitation information and services affecting livelihoods across country.
  • 80% of youth are not formally employed, and 25% are not looking because they have been discouraged by the difficulty of finding decent work (NHDR 2018); 20% of youth aged between 15 to 24 years are NEET – not in education, employment or training (Census 2015); Young female farmers marry younger, have children at a younger age, and have more children at the age of 24 than non-female farmers.

Objectives and Focus Areas of the Youth Challenge

  • Generate youth-led innovation that provides solutions to tackle unemployment as well as health and malnutrition issues in Timor-Leste by empowering youth and giving them the opportunity to develop, pitch, and scale up their innovative ideas and start-ups in the following areas:
    • Education: promote equitable access to quality education, training, employment, entrepreneurship and civic participation
    • Civic Engagement: equip young people as problem-solvers and engaged members of civil society, helping to create a better world.
    • Health and nutrition: promoting better health and nutrition.
    • Waste management: solving waste problem through 4Rs and promotion of circular economy.
    • Sustainable agriculture: building climate resilient agriculture to improve food production and consumption.
    • Sustainable tourism: creating attractive tourism in the sustainable way to benefit both the people and planet as well as tourists and the local community.
    • Renewable energy: improve access to affordable, reliable and clean energy for low income households, communities, and business to reduce indoor air pollutions and reduce CO2 emissions.
  • To build innovation ecosystem for youth innovation and entrepreneurship by fostering the dialogue and partnership between youth, government, private sector, academia and other stakeholders in order to identify priority issues and actions for development of the innovation and entrepreneurial eco-system;
  • To inspire, empower, and engage youth as change-makers/problem solvers and partners for development not as beneficiaries;
  • To transform youth ‘job-seekers’ into ‘job-creators’ through innovation and entrepreneurship which lead to reduction of unemployment rate and promotion of better health and nutrition in Timor-Leste. 

The challenges and Eligibility Criteria:

The youth need to develop their idea/project or business and compete to win seed-funding and opportunities for mentoring, and incubation to implement and scale up the ideas.

I. Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge: Engaging youth from more disadvantaged/marginalized backgrounds as problem solvers (rather than just beneficiaries) to generate youth-led solutions and enterprises at the local level that can contribute to the Generation Unlimited global strategic priorities.

  • GenU will showcase, on a global stage, inspirational young solvers, creating role models from disadvantaged communities, while also building citizenship, employability and entrepreneurship skills, experience and networks for disadvantaged young people.
  • The role models will champion ideas and solutions that will help to realize the ambition of GenU to enable young people to become productive and engaged members if society; have the potential to be sustainable (rather than one-off campaigns or activities); and can be successful in their local area/village/town, but have the potential to scale or replicate beyond this.

Eligibility: who can apply for this challenge

Young people who...

  • Are aged 14-24 (on September 23rd, 2019)
  • Are starting to work on a new idea or project.

For this particular challenge young people CANNOT apply if:

  • They have already received funding from any source to develop the idea2.
  • They are already a registered company or community organisation.

Can commit to attending:

  • The pre-bootcamp training session (Country Hosts to add dates).
  • The Innovation and Entrepreneurship bootcamp (Country Hosts to add dates).
  • If selected for local seed funding and mentorship, can commit to implementing their project, which could last until July 2020.

If selected for global seed funding, could commit to ongoing implementation

Please click here to apply for the boot camp application form 

For more information, on the Generation Unlimitted Youth Challenge, visit: or please contact

Andreza Maria Guterres

Rukshan Ratnam


II. Youth Co-Lab Innovation Challenge: How your idea or business might create environmentally friendly jobs/livelihoods for the rural population that truly help them receive/increase income while at the same support to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change

Solutions that…

  • Support vulnerable rural population including women and disable people to improve their awareness and build resilient livelihoods through one or more of the following: horticulture, livestock, fisheries, agroforestry, food processing/innovation, waste recycling/upcycling, circular economy/promoting the use of alternative reusable/compostable/biodegradable products, tourism, and renewable energy.
  • Provide opportunities to rural people particularly most vulnerable population such as women, youth, and disable people to engage in income generation activities.

Eligibility: who can apply for this category

Timorese young people who…

  • Are aged between 18 to 35 years old
  • Starting to work on a new idea or have already started a business (registered company who already running for one year and above or in the process/planning to register – running less than six months)
  • Innovators with great idea or business to solve unemployment and malnutrition issues
  • Doers who can take ideas into actions and/or have clear vision and strategy for scaling up

Can commit to attending:

  • The pre-bootcamp training session for qualified teams (November 2019)
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship Bootcamp: training and oitching to select 10 best ideas for final pitching to a panel of judges and partners
  • National Youth Forum: National Dialogue, final pitching and award ceremony
  • If selected, can commit to attend mentoring and incubation through the UNDP's springboard programme that could last in December 2020 to implement or scale your business.


We welcome applications from University Finalists, women leaders, entrepreneurs, young people living with disability and other vulnerable young people aged between 18-35 years and youth working on projects in sustainable development and social innovations particularly in the following 4 main areas:

  • Sustainable waste management and circular economy
  • sustainable tourism
  • Sustainable food production and consumption
  • Renewable energy

Proposals will be shortlisted based on the following criteria:

  1. Quality of proposal
  2. Commercial viability of the proposal
  3. Sustainable development impact
  4. Scalability 
  5. Creativity

Application Form (click here)

The qualified applicants will be invited to a capacity building pre-bootcamp to be held in early November 2019 in Dili, and should be available to participate in the Bootcamp and National Youth Forum to be held on November 2019 to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges and partners. It is expected the National Youth Forum will feature 10 selected teams (5 teams from Idea stage and 5 for start-up stage).

Please download the application, edit the document, save it and send it back to

For more information about the application email:

Felisberta Moniz da Silva

Joao Maria Tapel

What is Youth Co:Lab?

Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so they can accel­erate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entre­preneurship. By developing young people’s 21st century skills, and by catalyzing and sustaining youth-led startups and social enterprises across the region, Youth Co:Lab is positioning young people front and center in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges. In addition to supporting youth entrepreneurship, Youth Co:Lab also works closely with multiple stakeholders, including governments, civil society and the private sector, to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem and to promote policies that will support and enable young people to take the lead in finding and developing new solutions for social and environmental problems in their communities.

What is Generation Unlimted?

Generation Unlimited is a dynamic partnership that draws on the expertise of young people, representatives from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society to inspire urgent investment in education, skills training, and empowerment for the rapidly growing global population of adolescents and young people (ages 10-24) – which will reach 2 billion by 2030. Generation Unlimited – which forms part of the United Nations’ Youth 2030 Strategy – will complement and build on existing programmes that support adolescents and young people. This year, GenU is codesigning (together with UNICEF, UNDP, Plan International, the Scouts and all of you, young people and partners) the second annual Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge which will work to prepare young people to become productive and engaged citizens, by connecting secondary-age education and training to employment and entrepreneurship, empowering every young person to thrive in the world of work.

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Timor-Leste 
Go to UNDP Global