Samoa’s second annual Youth Co:Lab underway

Samoa’s second annual Youth Co:Lab workshop kicked off on Wednesday morning with 15 Samoan entrepreneurs participating.

Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer, Lemauga Hobart Vaai, said more than a hundred applications were received for the workshop with the list narrowed down to 47.

Another review brought the final number to 15.

Lemauga said this year involves a lot more mentoring for the participants, the bringing people from across the sectors, including Government and successful businesses inspire the youth, as well as assisting the youth in their entrepreneurship journeys.

“The big thing this year, compared to last year is that we found out that most of the [participants] came from urban area,” he said.

“But this year, we wanted to open it up. Widen the scope of Co:Lab, and the biggest thing for us is to continue to build on it and open up and create more opportunities for the youth.”

The event's vision is to empower Samoa’s young people to become agents of change by through the use of leadership, social innovation, and entrepreneurship to drive sustainable development for Samoa.

Digital Transformation was one of the big topics at the event, as highlighted by President of Samoa Information Technology Association, James Ah Wai in his speech, “Technology is for everyone.”

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“When talking about digital, we can think of discovering new boundaries and using innovation and technologies to push our business,” he said.

“It’s about finishing new possibilities of an exciting service in order to design and deliver a better experience for your customer.”

Mr. Ah Wai left a challenge for the participants and guests of the workshop, saying that there is a “need to create an environment which is conductive for innovation and creativity, to accelerate growth of digital entrepreneurship.”

This challenge was widely accepted by the participants, particularly 28-year-old Lefaotogi Paletasala Faolotoi, whose business idea is very much involved in the digital sector.


Lefaotogi said the space for marketing ideas and receiving constructive feedback for improvement, plus the support and funding that comes with it, is the reason why he applied.

“The reason why I’m here is because I want to tackle climate change,” he said.

“The concept I’ll be pitching is for Samoa itself, by using innovative technology, I want to use drones to map the changing environment of Samoa, temperature, and see the progress of deteriorating [land] due to sea level rise.

“That will help find a solution on how we can combat the issue.”

This will be the first time for Lefaotogi to pitch his idea and he believes that the data collected will be an advantage for Samoa in the ongoing fight against climate change.

Youth Co:Lab is a UNDP initiative that addresses the challenges young people, including the most marginalized, face today in the Asia and Pacific region.  

The programme is an opportunity to establish a network of empowered youth to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

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