Entrepreneurship, Peace, and Food Security: The Ambassador’s Trip to South-Sudan

Between 19-23th of February, the Dutch ambassador for Youth, Education and Work visited South-Sudan. Here, he participated, spoke and listened with locals in a series of events. Amongst others: the launch of Orange Corners, a start-up incubator program initiated by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

South Sudan
Ambassador Jurriaan Middelhoff visiting local initiatives.

South Sudan: Energetic, Resilient, and Future-Oriented

The bustling and energetic city of Juba is where the journey starts. The colorful buildings in the Sahel environment provide an unique background for an exciting four days to come. The reason for the ambassador’s visits to the country largely relates to discussing the position of youth in South Sudan. Several events organized by local youth and politicians provided the perfect opportunity to do so.

Unfortunately, ‘youth’ and ‘politicians’ are still largely two separate groups in South Sudan. Paired with the fact that 73,6% of the country’s population is considered youth, its evident that the topic of youth political participation – and more generally the role of youth – is an urgent discussion. Luckily, deep conversations over the four-day span showed a resilient attitude of all South-Sudanese towards the inclusion of youth in future endeavors.  

Opening Orange Corners South Sudan

South Soedan
Ambassador Jurriaan Middelhoff speaking at the opening of Orange Corners South Sudan.

One of the exciting moments during the trip was the launch of Orange Corners. Orange Corners South Sudan aims to support young entrepreneurs in starting and growing their businesses by offering capacity-building training, masterclasses, coaching, mentor sessions, business development support, networking opportunities and more. In fact, the project is the first start-up incubator in the whole country! Also, the location in South Sudan marks Orange Corners’ 20th location in Africa and the Middle East.

The launch of Orange Corners comes at an important time. With the relative return of peace and a growing number of returnees from Sudan, the government of South Sudan is challenged to ensure that more South Sudanese are absorbed into the labor market. Vocational training plays an important role in providing a more effective, pathway to acquiring skills, learning and employment, especially in the context of a predominantly fragile setting. 

Overall, Orange Corners was wholeheartedly welcomed as it is the first such step into improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Sudan.

South Soedan
The crowd at the opening of Orange Corners South Sudan.

Youth, Peace and Security in South Sudan

Apart from the launch of Orange Corners, the visit of the ambassador was also used to show the importance of the youth, peace and security (YPS) agenda in South Sudan. This agenda recognizes the positive role young people can play in conflict prevention, the prevention of violence, and the promotion and consolidation of peace.

One of the events relating to YPS took place on the 20h of February at the Scenius Hub in the Hai Malakal Neighborhood of Juba. It was a town-hall style conversations, in which participants conversed and debated with the ambassador on the current status of YPS in South-Sudan. It became apparent that, to sustain peace and development, it is essential to widen the options for the youth and engaging them through skills enhancement, employment, and social inclusion, especially for the most vulnerable - including female youth, ex-combatants and persons with disability.

Environment, Agriculture, and Food Security for Youth

A third essential topic that was discussed, was the indispensable role that the youth can play in shaping South Sudan’s environmental and agricultural narrative. Sustainable agriculture in South Sudan has incredible potential, while the country can still make big strides in sustainably making use of their abundant natural resources. Also, there is quite some potential for sustainable growth through agriculture by converting the abundant lands. Still, some encouraging initiatives are already sprouting over the lands of the country, two of which the ambassador and his team visited.

These organizations were Eco Friends Company and the Wate Na Kita Women’s Cooperative Centre. The former focusses on general cleaning and waste management, while the latter adopted and perfected food smoking techniques for prolonged conservation. All in all, it showed a great willingness to build towards a future of food security for all South Sudanese.

To Be Continued

Ties with both the South Sudanese youth and politicians were strengthened during the trip of the ambassador to South Sudan. It became evident that youth has an important role to play in the future of the country. Every person showed great creativity and willingness to build towards a future along the lines of meaningful youth participation. Since the Youth at Heart strategy is created to support this in all capacity, this story is to be continued.