Meet the Finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2015

Meet the Finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2015

Last year, we published the call for application for the prestigious Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work. The awards recognize outstanding young people under 30 whose development projects and programmes have had significant impact on their communities, countries and across the globe

On February 10, 2015, the Commonwealth Youth Programme shortlisted the Sixteen extraordinary young people from across the Commonwealth. The regional finalists from countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, were chosen for their work in diverse fields such as the environment, gender equality, education and youth entrepreneurship and empowerment.

The Award

In addition to a cash prize, trophy and a trip to London to meet Commonwealth leaders, winners will be given the opportunity to develop valuable networks and contacts. Regional winners will be announced on 10 March in London during Commonwealth Week, when the pan-Commonwealth winner will also be revealed.

The finalists for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work are:


  1. Nakitende Catherine (Uganda, age 24) started Kingfire Energy Solutions in November 2013, to provide a cleaner and cheaper alternative to coal and tackle problems such as deforestation, waste management, limited access to energy and respiratory diseases.
  2. Ijeoma Idika-Chima (Nigeria, age 23), a 2014 Young Leader and a Mandela Washington Fellow, founded Teenz Global Foundation – an NGO that works to promote education among young people and support at-risk youth.
  3. Esther Kalenzi (Uganda, age 26) has been improving access to education for orphans and children from poor families, through her youth-led charity 40 Days Over 40 Smiles Foundation.
  4. Julius Shirima (Tanzania, age 25) founded Darecha, a youth entrepreneurship organisation and micro-venture capital fund to tackle youth unemployment, while still in high school.


  1. Mr Madhav Datt (India, age 18) founded ‘Green the Gene’ at the age of eight. A Youth Ambassador for the United Nation Environment Programme TUNZA EcoGeneration for the Asia-Pacific region, Madhav has since overseen its expansion into a 4,800 strong youth-led environmental NGO with active projects in 45 countries.
  2. Mr David Teck Chye Hoe (Singapore, age 27) Head of the Education Committee on the Commonwealth Youth Council, has spearheaded a package of measures to improve education and literacy for children in Singapore – including an innovative I Am Talented programme to motivate students.
  3. Ms Gulalai Ismail (Pakistan, age 28), at 16, established Aware Girls – an empowering, women-led organisation in North West Pakistan to educate girls about their human rights.
  4. Mr Ravi Theja Muthu (India, age 23) is a youth leader and environmentalist, whose Climate Leaders India Network NGO raises awareness of climate change and identifies strategies – such as solar cookers and biogas digesters – to address the problem.

Caribbean and Canada

  1. Mr Marcus Kissoon, (Trinidad and Tobago, age 27) is 2012 National Award for Volunteerism winner. The activist, who has been campaigning for gender equality and an end to gender based violence, is one of the founding members of the Organisation for Abused and Battered Individuals.
  2. Ms Nolana Lynch (Trinidad and Tobago, age 27) is a climate change and environmental sustainability advocate, whose work has impacted 15-20 non-profit organisation.
  3. Mr Nevar Smith (The Bahamas, 27) established the Bahamas Youth Movement – an advocacy organisation geared towards encouraging young people to find creative ways to make positive contributions to their country.
  4. Ms Priya Verma (Canada, age 22) has pioneered an innovative, cost-effective technology to preserve and increase precious underground water by harvesting rainwater.


  1. Tabotabo Auatabu (Kiribati, age 27) campaigns to end violence against children and improve access to education. He is a member of the Eliminating Sexual and Gender Based Violence Education Committee and delivers motivational and inspirational messages to young people.
  2. Brianna Fruean (Samoa age 16), who has represented the youth voice in multiple global climate change forums, is a Young Environmentalist Activist 2013 awardee and a member of the Pacific Youth Environment network.
  3. Sam Johnson (New Zealand, age 25) is part of the Asia/Pacific Alliance for Volunteer Action for Peace and Development. Following the devastating Christchurch earthquakes, Sam used social media to mobilise over 11,000 students in New Zealand to act on disaster risk reduction.
  4. Jamie Moore (Australia, age 28) is Vice-Chair of the Australian Youth Forum and General Manager of Hello Sunday Morning – an online youth-led initiative that encourages young people to take a thoughtful and responsible attitude toward alcohol use.

Source: The Commonwealth