Press releases

Call for applications: Young entrepreneurs with green solutions, for chance to win seed funding

16 February 2024
ITC News

(Geneva) – Young entrepreneurs with green, sustainable businesses can now apply to participate in a global accelerator programme of the United Nations with the opportunity to pitch solutions on a global stage to win seed funding.

The Ye! Youth Ecopreneur Programme is designed to build the skills and networks of green innovators under the age of 35, in particular those in developing countries, to guide them through a developmental journey as part of a global community of young entrepreneurs – Ye! Community – that includes a bootcamp, an accelerator stage and culminates in the Youth Ecopreneur Awards.

The Programme is hosted by International Trade Centre (ITC) in partnership with the G20 Global Land Initiative of the United Nations Convention Against Desertification (UNCCD). The goal is to advance global environmental sustainability through young entrepreneurs over the next five years.

Applicants can apply for one of two categories: Green Business Solution (which covers circularity and the green economy) and Land Restoration. To be eligible for the Land Restoration category, the entrepreneur must run a business that supports one or more of the following areas of work: reforestation or afforestation; soil conservation and enrichment; wetland restoration; erosion control; cleanup of contaminated land; agroforestry and carbon farming; invasive species control; forest or urban woodland fire management; stream and river restoration; and use of modern technology for any of the above.

Apply for the Ye! Youth Ecopreneur Programme here. The deadline to apply is 22 March 2024.

Benefits for participants of the bootcamp and accelerator include capacity building, mentorship, business diagnostics, equity-free seed funding for the land restoration category, preferential access to the Google’s Startups for Sustainable Development programme; specialized support on intellectual property protection from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO); links to investors for additional funding; pro bono legal services from Sidley Austin; and international exposure through communications coverage from ITC. Finalists of the Youth Ecopreneur Awards receive a fully funded trip to pitch at an international conference, workshops/coaching and a chance to win $10,000.

Recognizing excellence

The Programme marks an expansion of the Youth Ecopreneurs Awards held during the ITC flagship event, the World Export Development Forum 2023, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Finalists and winners of these Awards have benefited from a suite of support provided by ITC, UNCCD and other partners, including WIPO, Google's Startups for Sustainable Development and the multinational law firm Sidley Austin.

Mashrur Shurid, 2023 winner in the land restoration category for his Bangladeshi agri-tech firm iPAGE, recently secured $110,000 in funding, citing the credibility lent by the Youth Ecopreneur Awards as a key factor in this achievement.

Previous winners of the Youth Ecopreneur Awards include Douglas Baguma of solar energy business Innovex of Uganda; Vedant Gandhi of waste upcycling company recycleX of India; and Lidia Diaz of plant-based food company Plant Powered of the Dominican Republic.

Partnering to support youth

ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: ‘Young people are today’s leaders, and climate change is the defining issue of our time. Through this new accelerator programme, building on the good work we’ve done with our partners, young entrepreneurs with green solutions will gain the information, skills and networks they need to create a more sustainable and inclusive world.’

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said: ‘I am delighted to join forces with ITC to develop an accelerator programme for youth ecopreneurs. While land degradation is a major environmental challenge that will require billions of dollars to restore, it also opens up opportunities for businesses to innovate and create green jobs. Training 1,700 “landpreneurs” over the next five years will hopefully present the youth with a model to be applied in the future.’

WIPO Assistant Director General Edward Kwakwa said: ‘In 2023, we bore witness to the inspiring power of partnerships, as ITC and WIPO united to empower youth in innovation and entrepreneurship. I urge you to stand with us, to amplify our support for initiatives like the Youth Ecopreneur Awards. Together, we can forge a path toward lasting, transformative progress for our planet.’

Irwin Boutboul, founder of Google’s Startups for Sustainable Development programme, said: ‘Young entrepreneurs work towards the Sustainable Development Goals to build a sustainable future. At Google, we are proud to offer our programme to participants of the Youth Ecopreneur Programme, supporting innovators and business leaders who will make this a reality."

Nicolas Lockhart, co-leader of Sidley’s Emerging Enterprises Programme, said: ‘The Youth Ecopreneur Programme aligns with Sidley’s commitment to supporting the next generation of businesses committed to sustainable development, with tailored pro bono legal services and capacity-building support on legal matters. Our collaboration with ITC is highly valued, and together, we are dedicated to promoting innovative youth-led enterprises that have a meaningful impact on our planet and communities.’


Notes to the Editor


About the International Trade Centre - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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About the Ye! Community: The ITC Ye! Community powered by the Youth and Trade Programme is aimed at helping youth entrepreneurs to build scalable and sustainable businesses. The Ye! Community provides access to a global network of youth, mentors and ecosystem enablers, as well as free access to start-up trainings, resources, events and business opportunities.


Media contact

Susanna Pak

Senior Strategic Communications Officer

International Trade Centre

E: pak [at]

T: +41 22 730 0651