2019 IFC Sustainability Exchange Contest for Youth Innovations

Are you an innovator between the ages of 18 and 35 who develops solutions to enhance your community, city, region, country?

Are you committed to private sector improvements in transportation, mining, energy, or water?

Take part in our contest for an opportunity to attend the 2019 IFC Sustainability Exchange to share your ideas with over 300 innovators, entrepreneurs, business executives, government officials, and youth and gender advocates.

This contest aims to inspire and facilitate dialogue on innovative ways to engage young people in infrastructure and natural resources, while addressing some of the problems and needs of communities and companies. We are calling young social entrepreneurs to submit a project proposal that contributes to some of the core themes of the 2019 IFC Sustainability Exchange: harnessing technology, inclusion, and benefit sharing across energy, transport, water, and mining.

The prize for the top three proposals will be a trip to Dakar, Senegal, to attend and present your proposal for final judging at the IFC Sustainability Exchange between June 17-19, 2019.


Contest Launch:

17 April 2019

Deadline for Submission:

5 May 2019

Winners Announced:

22 May 2019

Eligibility Criteria

  • Innovators between the ages of 18-35 years (as of May 5, 2019) from around the world are invited to participate.
  • The competition is open to nationals of ALL countries. Participation is encouraged from eligible individuals with the drive to innovate, regardless of their occupation (e.g. students, NGO leaders, government officials, start-up creators, technical experts, or any other).
  • The applicant’s project proposal can be any new, original innovation, product, technology, or service, based on catalyzing growth through infrastructure, harnessing technology, inclusion and shared benefits (for private sector and communities).
  • Only one submission per contestant will be allowed. Subsequent submissions will be disqualified.

Application Procedure

The application portal will ask for the following:

  1. Title, name, age, and photo
  2. Short abstract (200 word limit)
  3. Explanation of problem and context (200 word limit)
  4. Explanation of your solution (1000 word limit)
    (answers can be shared through 1000 word text response, short video* or audio clip (3 minute limit), poster, charts, or well-captioned presentation
    • Why is it relevant and how will it bring social and/or environmental benefits to a community/country/region?
    • What is new about it?
    • By who, how, and when would it be implemented?
    • What is the expected impact?
    • Does it have strong potential to be replicated and scaled up?
    • What are challenges you might face and how will they be mitigated?

*Any non-English video must contain English subtitles.


Formatting Guidelines

  • All appropriate information must be cited.
  • English or French is preferred, but submissions will be accepted in one of the following languages: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian or Portuguese. All submissions completed in a language not listed above will be disqualified.
  • Proposals must be submitted via the survey monkey link.

Evaluation Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated on how well the following four attributes are demonstrated

  • Significance: proposed idea should be specific enough to reflect some level of depth related to the themes and significant enough to impact a large number of people and/or private sector companies or countries.
  • Originality and creativity: submissions should present ideas that are either undeveloped or severely underdeveloped in international development research and literature, therefore showing originality and creativity.
  • Feasibility: proposal should include a brief ‘roadmap to adoption’ on the feasibility of the solution and addresses any roadblocks; all submissions should be actionable and measurable; they should also be based on practicality rather than theory. Regional or country focus is encouraged.
  • Clarity: proposal should be submitted in a clear and concise manner.


The Judging Panel will be composed of World Bank Group staff and external experts. The exact composition of the Judging Panel will be determined by IFC.

Finalists will present their proposals in front of the Judging Panel (“Presentations”) during the IFC Sustainability Exchange in Dakar. The presentations will be delivered in front of an audience and one Winner will be selected by the Judging Panel.


The top three Applicants* of the competition will have the opportunity to:

  • Present their ideas at an event during the IFC Sustainability Exchange in Dakar, Senegal.
  • IFC will cover travel expenses (economy flight and hotel accommodations) if traveling from outside of Dakar.
  • Benefit from unique capacity development and networking opportunities with experts from international development, academia, and the private sector. Potential one-on-one meetings with selected attendees.
  • IFC will feature and promote Finalists’ and Winners’ ideas on the commdev.org website and on IFC’s social media channels.

*In the event the proposal involves more than one person, only the lead would receive support for travel or accommodation.

Permissions and Releases

By submitting an Entry, Participants certify they own or have obtained the necessary permission for any images, charts, statistics, or any other information or material used and submitted to IFC. Any violation may result in disqualification of the Entry. Participants are responsible for protecting their proprietary and other rights under applicable laws.

Intellectual Property

By submitting an Entry, Participants retain the individual right to their work and any derivative, but give the World Bank Group the permission to:

  • Share Entries, Proposals, revised versions of Proposals and/or videos free of charge with third parties, only for the purpose of those third parties to screen and judge Entries, Proposals, revised versions of Proposals and/or videos;
  • Publish summaries of (revised) Proposals prepared by Participants, Participants’ short biographies and/or videos on the Sustainability Exchange Contest event page and any other World Bank Group webpages;
  • Share summaries of (revised) Proposals prepared by Participants, Participants’ short biographies and/or videos, as well as derived content, through blogposts, newsletters, articles, social media platforms and any other communication channels and public display.
  • Share summaries of (revised) Proposals prepared by Participants, Participants’ short biographies and/or videos free of charge with IFC Sustainability Exchange partners and partner organizations only for the purpose of those individuals and organizations to publicly display and broadcast this information/content, one or multiple times, in order to increase exposure of Participants’ proposed solutions and their subject matter.

Forward inquiries about the contest to thay@ifc.org.


IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in the toughest areas of the world. For more information, visit www.ifc.org