Young Water Fellowship

The Young Water Fellowship provides training, mentorship and seed funding to young people with project ideas to solve local water issues.

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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Young Water Solutions

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $100k - $250k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 5,000 - 10,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Belgium

Headquarters location: City

Ixelles, Brussels

Location(s) of impact

Burkina Faso:Ouara Nigeria:Labata Uganda:Hakibale Bangladesh:Shontola +Rwanda,Kenya,Tanzania,Congo,Morocco,Pakistan,India, Guatemala,Peru,El Salva


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Lack of access to drinking water and sanitation, water pollution, and water scarcity are main drivers of health problems, poverty, gender inequality, food scarcity, local, regional and international conflict, etc. Young people can be drivers for local development through implementing projects that tackle local water issues, but for that they need to overcome significant technical, administrative and financial obstacles. This initiative provides the support young people need in order to become water solutions providers.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

After successfully supporting youth-led projects in Africa and Asia, this year we launched the Young Water Fellowship (YWF): a model of training+mentorship+funding for young people with project ideas to solve local water issues in low and middle income countries. We received 800 applications from 95 countries, evidencing the huge demand for support. Selected fellows (10 for this first edition) are invited to a one-week training in Brussels in different water-related topics relevant for their projects, they are assigned mentors and given €5000 as seed funding for project implementation. An example of how empowerment opportunities can make a difference: Our first project supported young leader Ilias (Burkina Faso) to implement a €3000 project to repair a borehole in his former High School. He then implemented a €4.500 project in his village. After that, he significantly scaled up and implemented a €120,000 project to build 4 boreholes and 100 latrines for an entire village.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We have tested this training+mentorship+funding model ad-hoc, supporting 6 youth-led projects upon demand in Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Uganda in the past 2 years. Outcomes include: -Access to WaSH: Projects have benefited 5000 people. -We have built capacity in local youth, by training them in practical WASH skills such as latrine building -We have provided the tools (training, funding) for the youth to be drivers of SDG#6 in their communities -Funding: We have leveraged more than €180,000 only for youth-led projects. At this moment we are implementing the first Global edition of the YWF Program. After receiving 800 applications from 95 countries, 14 young people will attend a one-week training in Brussels (November 2017), where organizations such as Action Contre la Faim, UNESCO, and others will train the Fellows in WASH, IWRM, project management, problem solving, monitoring, etc. Fellows will implement their projects in 2018, which expect to benefit 10,000 people

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

For the first editions, both global and regional ones, we do rely on philanthropic donations. By 2019, we want to achieve financial self-sustainability by the following hybrid approach: From our global budget we will only fund projects that are based on a social business model. Our initial seed-funding will be reimbursed by the beneficiaries when they start making profit. We will only provide grants that are not to be reimbursed by the beneficiaries when the budget for these grants is paid by national governments (or regional institutions) in the framework of national programs. The ROI for the sponsoring government will be the marginal increase in economic development (and employment), achieved through the project. This means that the operation for the government will be a break-even.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

This is the only fellowship of its kind. There are some organizations offering just academic training to young people on water, others giving prizes to their innovative projects or to a smaller extent funding opportunities. But there is no organization focused on the full model (hands-on training, mentorship and funding for youth-led water initiatives), nor with a special focus on the local youth that have leadership potential but that don’t have other opportunities.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

For years, we have been advocating for youth empowerment, representing the youth in lots of conferences, and even if youth is a ‘’trend’’ now, little has changed in terms of their empowerment on the field. We created YWS to address this gap. For two years we supported upon demand young people with funding and training, but we realized 1) we were doing it without a sustainable and scalable strategy; 2) we were mainly reaching young people who already were part of youth networks and not the local ones without other opportunities and 3) most youth projects were dealing with the same technical challenges. Inspired in my experience as a Youth Action Net Fellow, we realized we could tackle all those challenges by organizing a call for applications to massively reach young people, bring them together in a one-week workshop and get them mentors and funding at once. That’s how we started.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact


Join the conversation:


Young entrepreneurs need financial, intellectual, and managerial capitals to realize their visions. It is heartening that you have thought of all three capitals. Youth must love you for hand-holding throughout their journey.

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