Empowering Youth Series in Moldova- finding the solutions to burning problems

Garage48 started organizing hackathons in Moldova already back in 2016 and we have been in Moldova two or three times a year after that. All together it counts down to 9 events and the Idea Garage Empowering Youth was the 10th one in a row. We first got into organizing events in Moldova, because of the positive experience we had experienced in Ukraine for years before already and we got curious, about what this tiny country has to offer. Why do we keep on coming back?

Moldova for Garage48 has been one of these unique places, where our events have always been welcomed with enthusiasm and gusto. Young people, who attend the hackathons and ideations are eager to learn more about startups and entrepreneurship and even if their hackathon idea doesn’t end up as an immediate success, they are persistent enough to keep working on it. Seeing all these enthusiastic people, full of ideas and hope and getting things done kind of an attitude- is the reason why we keep coming back, year after year.

It’s already the third year, that we are partnering up with YEP Moldova and with complete honesty- this is one of our easiest and most stress-free collaborations by far. The partnership with YEP Moldova has taken care of the step that was missing for Garage48 in Moldova previously- the followup support of the hackathon teams. After the hackathons and ideations, the teams enter YEP’s early-stage incubator and the best teams compete every year at the program’s demo day.

The Idea Garage Empowering Youth (Winter Edition) we organized on the 15th of February brought together approximately 75 participants. The first bit of the idea garage is always spent on problems and finding out the most burning of them. This time we were able to allocate 10 most important problems- most of them originating from participants’ own lives.

Here’s a brief overview of the ideas and the solutions that the teams came up with:

1. There’s not enough local-produced stuff available in the grocery stores, everything is imported. Consumers have little information about why to use local products and by default, they seem to pick foreign brands, which costs significantly more. Solution- certificate for the quality of Moldovian products- the program would be funded by the European support programs.

2. Young people don’t have enough opportunities to entertain themselves in a meaningful way
Youth doesn’t have many places where they can work on their hopes and dreams (like creating media, online content, learning new skills). Lots of potential, very few ways to express creativity. Online media is underdeveloped and there’s a lot of low quality of content. Solution- to create an academy for teenagers, which would provide 4 sets of different pieces of training- IT courses, photography and video production, the art of writing and management and leadership.

3. Volunteering- 2 sided problem- organizations can’t find enough participants and young people cant find enough interesting opportunities to volunteer. Solution- a platform where both parties meet.

4. Lack of possibilities to get non -formal education - how to become an entrepreneur, how to learn other soft skills. Solution- an online academy for these courses. This is the problem that we have heard in other countries we've been in as well, over and over again.

5. Water Pollution in Moldova- water has low quality in Moldova. Lots of villages disappear because of the lack of quality water available in rural areas. Also, current water pumping systems are old and worn out and the system will collapse eventually. Solution- participating in international grants, will collect money from the environmental agencies and fix this problem through systematical approach in replacing some of the structures, new wells, etc

6. Traffic Pollution
- the team that was passionate about fighting traffic pollution

7. Gaming coffee-shops are dying out, young people are just sitting in the coffee shops on their phones, not socializing with each other, sitting on social media. Solution- broaden the network of venues with board games by renting the games to existing cafes and restaurants.

8. QED- online database, lots of coaching, lots of role models and experts to speak to.An educational program, which has online and offline courses. The biggest initial expense would be buying computers.

9. How to choose the right career for yourself? Young people have often absolutely no clue about their career choices. Solution- platform, which would test different skills, creativity, communication. They would test all the possible career choices and make a career map with the best choices for every participant.

10. Apartment complexes don’t get finished in Kyiv because of the lack of contact and control over developers. Solution: application in which all information, documentation and the credibility of the developer will be displayed. Also, everything related to costs and materials so that the whole construction would be more transparent.

We wanna thank all the participants- that gathered with us and took a day off their weekend, to tackle the issues that matter the most to them. This is already a lot different from how most young people would choose to spend their weekends, meaning you are a step ahead of the others. We wanna encourage you to keep working on your ideas and we hope to see some of the ideas turned into real-life prototypes when we return!

The project was done with the support of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs  Development Cooperation Fund. 

About the author

mari hanikat

Mari is the CEO at Garage48. She is a very strong and mission-driven leader not afraid to go places no one has been before and help people. 🚀

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