DOW, a materials science leader committed to delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for customers in packaging, infrastructure and consumer care, has partnered the YALI Regional Leadership Center West Africa, Accra to train 48 young Africans in sustainable waste management. Dubbed the DOW/YALI Accra RLC Design Challenge on Sustainable Waste Management, the collaboration will provide intensive training and learning opportunities for participants and foster collaboration across the region.

Mr. Daniel Moore, Mission Director at USAID West Africa, believes that this collaboration is poised to make a difference on the continent, through the efforts of the selected Alumni participating in the challenge. Mr. Moore encouraged participants of the Challenge to utilize this opportunity to build effective, reliable, sustainable private sector associations that can make a difference in development especially in the sustainable waste management space across Africa. The Mission Director further encouraged participants to ensure their actions positively impact their communities and to constantly remember that now is the time to build.

On her part, Adwoa Coleman, DOW Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager, was hopeful that this partnership with YALI provides DOW with the opportunity to tap into some of the best and brightest minds to create a future for Africa designed by Africans. “As you start this journey to learn, innovate and design, think far, wide and outside the box”, the DOW Africa Sustainability and Advocacy Manager added.

Project Director at the YALI RLC Accra, Dr. Shola Safo-Duodu, expressed optimism that the Design Challenge will offer Alumni of the Center the opportunity to learn, re-learn and innovate in their approach to sustainable waste management across the sub region. The Director also added that the collaboration has the potential to turn the waste management challenge of the sub region around to sustainable opportunities for the benefit of all.

The Design Challenge targets Alumni of the Accra RLC working in the environmental sustainability space to validate. The Challenge adopts a unique approach to problem solving, which involves tailor-made solutions, the adoption and utilization of inspiration, ideation and implementation in the problem-solving approach.

The two-part curriculum of the Design Challenge is centered on sustainability, the SDGs and the circular economy. The objectives of the Challenge include obtaining new ideas for waste management in the sub region in alignment with the key tracks of the YALI curriculum, highlighting the talent embedded within YALI RLC Accra Alumni, and aligning with the existing DOW Social Impact Fund project.

Participants of the Design Challenge will work in challenge groups of four to undergo a 12-week online training. The initial three-week of the training, known as the Sustainability and Circular Economy Training, will query participants’ understanding and application of sustainability and circular economy. The main Design Challenge, to be implemented over a nine-week period, will include interactive online sessions and weekly coaching by experts in the sustainability and circular economy. The completion of the Design challenge will pave way for the YALI Alumni Innovation Award, an online ceremony where participants will pitch their ideas and receive feedback from a panel of judges. The winning group will receive $10,000 to implement their Challenge project or idea. Post the award ceremony, the collaboration will provide twelve months of mentorship for finalists.

The 48 participants are drawn from eight countries within the sub-region, comprising Ghana, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Liberia.