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Ambitious about Africa

5 min read

11 Aug 2021

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Harry Lawrence

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Ambitious.Africa

5 min read

11 Aug 2021

Text:

Harry Lawrence

Photo:

Ambitious.Africa

There is currently a desperate need for more equal opportunities and better integration between companies and the communities around them to help combat the key issues of our time – and it’s the companies themselves that need to fulfil this need.

That’s why Wärtsilä has proudly joined forces with Ambitious.Africa, an initiative working to connect the youth of African and Nordic countries, foster upcoming talent and co-create a more equal and sustainable future.

This partnership comes as part of our commitment to being an ethical and active member of society. We share Ambitious.Africa’s ambition to support and empower young people in African and European countries, so that a wider range of perspectives go towards innovating new solutions.

“Wärtsilä believes in our model in cultivating new changemakers in Africa and the Nordics,” says Vincent Forsman, co-founder of Ambitious.Africa. “The partnership between Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa also sets an example for other corporates to get out of their silos and work hand-in-hand with new players to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”


Supplying resources, not only opportunities

One of the best ways in which companies can reach the SDGs is to leverage their resources to not only promote diversity and decentralisation but to make them happen in the real world.

Companies need to go beyond the passive provision of opportunities. By working with Ambitious.Africa, we at Wärtsilä can actively connect students, entrepreneurs, start-ups, financiers, and other stakeholders from across two continents and provide them with the knowledge, skills and training they need to bring about real and lasting change.

“The challenges we face as a society, from education to income inequality, and civil rights to healthcare and climate change, are crying out for novel ideas and solutions,” says Björn Ullbro, Vice President of Africa & Europe at Wärtsilä Energy. “As a company with a long history, both in Africa and the Nordics, we understand the benefits of joining forces with a broad spectrum of ideas and talent.”

Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa kicked-off their partnership with a sustainability seminar series for Nigerian Master’s students

Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa kicked-off their partnership with a sustainability seminar series for Nigerian Master’s students

 

Work is already underway

In April, Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa kicked-off their partnership with a sustainability seminar series for Nigerian Master’s students. The series was made up of six online events at which local and international sustainability experts shared their knowledge, preparing the students to present their own ideas.

“Our collaborative project in Nigeria has enabled 50 Nigerian Master’s students to get novel insights from 10 sustainability experts worldwide,” says Forsman. “With this knowledge, they are able to go and innovate new radical solutions in the field.”

The partnership also produced a pitching event earlier this summer for Moroccan entrepreneurs looking to introduce solutions to climate change issues. The aim of the event was to inspire further ventures in a relatively new entrepreneurial ecosystem.

We’re also looking forward to an upcoming event that focuses on African and Nordic universities. “This year’s projects are all about unlocking the youth dividend, and our young national teams lead all the individual projects they have come up with and decide over,” says Forsman.

 

A strong partnership for a completely renewable future

Ambitious.Africa supports and encourages young people to be active participants in working for a better future. It aims to increase wellbeing in African and Nordic countries through sustainable and local entrepreneurship. Like Wärtsilä, it supports initiatives that strive to develop knowledge, skills and products designed to bring us closer to a future that works for everyone.

“We were critical of how development was run mainly by top-down initiatives that were ridiculously expensive without any real sustainability,” says Forsman. “This is why we dedicated ourselves to establish Ambitious.Africa, grow it to involve teams in 30 countries with 300 volunteers, host over 50 events, and run it for 10 months without any funding at all.”

With established links in Africa, Wärtsilä is an ideal partner for Ambitious.Africa. These links allow Wärtsilä to provide opportunities and resources to local youth, who can then use their professional experience to help to further balance and redistribute resources.

“Through our partnership with Ambitious.Africa, we seek to engage student and entrepreneur communities to muster the true strength of a digitally native generation whose ideas are not limited by geography or politics,” says Ullbro. “My hope is that we untap the magic of boundless creativity, and my dream is that many future leaders will rise up through this partnership and change the world for the better.”