ZIMBABWE's largest mobile network operator, Econet Wireless, has officially launched its youth empowerment initiative, Elevate, at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST), where students were awarded prizes for their innovations.
Elevate is a youth-oriented empowerment programme, which gives the youth access to valuable resources such as job prospects, mentorship opportunities and admission to youth summits.
Speaking on the sidelines of the launch, Econet head of youth segment, Mr Jonathan Neshana, said the launch of Elevate at Nust was a contribution from Econet to revive the Bulawayo industry through technological innovations and empowering the youth.
"This can be viewed as a contribution from Econet to the revival of the Bulawayo industry through the innovative ideas that students pitch to us," he said.
"We want to make sure that the ideas are good and the students access funding as well as skills. So, the whole idea of this is to make sure that the ideas from these clubs are good and that they get the funding that they require for the idea to come to life and for them to get the skills that they need in order for them to commercialise."
Mr Neshana said the Elevate club was available in some universities and was expanding to other universities.
"So far, we have launched Elevate at Africa University (AU), Solusi University and this one at NUST and we are also going to Bindura University of Science and Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University (ZEGU) ", said Mr Neshana.
A total of 26 student groups showcased projects at the event. The big winners of the day were Bio Plus group who pitched an idea for turning waste into diesel.
They won RTGS$2 000 including gadgets from Kwese for having a great pitch and Gas Pro group came first in the exhibition category.
A representative of the Bio Plus group, Andrew Mupandasekwa, who came first in the sales pitch category, said their idea was motivated by fuel shortages and that they are thankful for the initiative by Elevate.
Gas Pro group representative Meluleki Moyo said their idea was inspired by cutting gas imports into Zimbabwe.
"Our innovative project is that of a device that produces methane biologically using corn stock, municipal waste and wood shavings. Our motivation for this project was to cut the dependency on other countries for products that we can produce using raw materials found locally" said Moyo.