January 28, 2014

Shared Connection in Nairobi

By Irene Irene Hofmeijer

Adam and I
Last October, at the UN SEED Awards ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya, something serendipitous happened. During a workshop for awardees, I glanced around the room at the social entrepreneurs being honored. More than half appeared middle-aged, and several were in their thirties, but a young man across the room was the only person who seemed similar in age to me--25. 

Intrigued to find out who he was, I approached him during a break. I must say I was disappointed to learn that Adam is a few months younger than me, so the title of "youngest awardee" went to him. However, it was thrilling to find out that we are both YouthActionNet alumni, part of the same network of over 800 young social entrepreneurs!

The SEED Award was founded by the
United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It awards innovative small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurs around the globe who integrate social and environmental benefits into their business models from the beginning.

A 2013 recipient of the SEED Award, my new friend Adam Camenzuli is a 2013 YouthActionNet Laureate Global Fellow and the Executive Director of KARIBU Solar Power, a social enterprise that aims to bring about an affordable solar revolution in Africa through modular solar lanterns that leverage a "pay as you go" model.

I am a 2013 Peruvian Fellow, receiver of the Premio Protagonistasdel Cambio award. I received the SEED award for my environmental work at the social enterprise I founded called Life Out Of Plastic. Our mission is to raise awareness about plastic pollution by funding environmental education campaigns in innovative ways.

Adam and I were glad to find each other and share our YAN experiences from across the globe. We are both new to the YouthActionNet network, but have quickly realized the benefit of being able to instantly relate to peers with similar dreams and challenges. This crazy planet feels much smaller when you can connect so closely to someone from halfway across the globe!

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