Youth Co:Lab, the project co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, is the largest youth-led social entrepreneurship movement driving the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Hanoi, Vietnam – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, with the collaboration and support from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Viet Nam Volunteer Center, opened the second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit, in Hanoi today. The flagship event brings together over 500 delegates, including hundreds of youth, partners and government officials from 20 countries, to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences, to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation.

According to the Asia Pacific Human Development Report 2016, more than half the young people in the world today live in Asia Pacific and 1.7 billion are under 25. The report further states that close to 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide, of which 33 million are in Asia Pacific alone. Nearly 220 million young people are neither at school, nor at work, presenting a daunting crisis that calls for an urgent response.

Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

Over the last two years, Youth Co:Lab projects have been implemented in 20 countries and territories across the region, with national dialogues, regional summits and social innovation challenges reaching over 48,000 participants. The initiative has benefitted over 2,500 young social entrepreneurs and helped launch or improve nearly 500 social enterprises.

Youth Co:Lab has also established partnerships with more than 100 key ecosystem players to strengthen the Youth Empowerment Alliance to support young entrepreneurs, particularly young women and marginalized youth, by connecting them with businesses, incubators, accelerators, and financing mechanisms to develop their ideas into viable business models for sustainable social impact.

Speaking this morning at the opening of the summit in National Economics University, Hanoi were : Valerie Cliff, UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific; Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation and Head of Corporate Citizenship at Citi; Caitlin Wiesen, Resident Representative, UNDP Viet Nam; Tran Van Tung, Vice Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, Viet Nam; Associate Professor, Dr. Hoang Van Cuong, Vice President of National Economics University.

“As I see the first generation of Youth Co:Lab social entrepreneurs flourish and carry their own initiatives forward, I am reminded of the reason why this work is so important: young people really do hold the key to social change,” said Valerie Cliff, UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific. “This is how we can align the grit and determination of young change makers to meet the ambition of the SDGs. Our mandate at Youth Co:Lab is to play the role of an integrator and strengthen the ecosystem connecting young people with governments and businesses to scale impact.”

“Youth Co:Lab’s approach of listening to the perspectives and ideas of young people, and empowering them to drive business solutions that address our world’s most pressing issues is how real change happens,” added Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “Only by joining forces with multiple actors from the public and private sector, social partners, civil society and beyond can we work towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.”

“In the current context of global integration and development, startups and innovation play an important role in economic development, addressing global difficulties and challenges as well as achieving sustainable development in each country and all over the world,” Vice Minister of Science and Technology, Tran Van Tung, said in his opening remarks. “The Youth Co:Lab Summit 2019, jointly organized by UNDP and Citi Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and Technology, is a significant event for the innovative startup community and the social impact enterprises, in particular. The summit will enable an exchange of ideas and help further developing the start-ups, through incubation, innovation, expanding connections and international cooperation.”

The two-day summit brings together several keynote speakers, prominent social entrepreneurs, youth change makers, principal government officials and leading ecosystem players, including: Reyhan Jamalova, Founder of Rainergy, Azerbaijan; Jack Sim, Founder of the World Toilet Organization; H.E. Mohamed Azmeel, Dept. Minister of Youth, Maldives; Mr. D.C. Dissanayake, Secretary to the Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Sri Lanka and Mr. Jame Ceasar Alejandro Ventura, Commissioner at large of National Youth Commission of the Philippines.

The summit will conclude with the Youth Co:Lab Regional Social Innovation Challenge, where 30 teams, pre-selected during the national social innovation challenges held across 16 countries respectively, will pitch and showcase their social enterprises and ideas to a panel of esteemed judges.

Judges include Victor Chua, Managing Partner, Vynn Capital; Shuyin Tang, Partner, Patamar Capital; Allison Hollowell, Chief strategy officer, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN); Reyhan Jamalova, Founder, Rainergy, Azerbaijan; Eric Nietsch, Associate Director, Corporate Ratings S&P Global; Natalie Marko, Head of Pan Asia Core Sales and Head of Pan Asia Client Management, Citi Global Markets; Deanna Morris, SHIFT ASEAN Deputy Programme Manager, UNCDF; Dustin Oliver Ling, Director, Citi Public Sector Banking and Akiko Fuji, Deputy Resident Representative, UNDP Viet Nam.

For more information:

1.      Details of the Youth Co:Lab program are attached in the Appendix.

2.      Further details on the Summit including the agenda and list of finalist teams for the Social Innovation Challenge can be found on the Youth Co:Lab website at

3.      For ongoing updates on the Youth Co:Lab program, follow @YouthCoLab on Twitter and Instagram.

About the 2019 Youth Co:Lab Summit

The second Asia Pacific Youth Co:Lab Summit, being held in Hanoi, Viet Nam from 2nd -5th April, will bring together key stakeholders - youth, government officials, the private sector, representatives from the UN and other international organizations to collectively work towards building an ecosystem conducive to driving social change through innovation and entrepreneurship. Specially designed thematic discussions on focus areas will facilitate an exchange of ideas, knowledge and experiences to influence policy.

Any interest to speak with the participants can be conveyed to the media contacts included in this press release.


About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at| Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog: | Facebook: | LinkedIn:

About Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

Media Contacts:


Viet Nam: Bui Quang Huy

+84 4 39367886‎

Regional: Caren Lee

+65 66573339


Viet Nam : Nguyen Viet Lan

+84 2914436769

Regional Project Co-ordinator : Savinda Ranathunga

Regional Media : Karuna Kumar

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