20 finalists announced for Commonwealth Youth Awards 2022

01 March 2022
Commonwealth Youth Awards

Twenty extraordinary young people, including inventors, activists and entrepreneurs, from 17 countries have been announced as finalists for this year’s Commonwealth Youth Awards.

Organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, the awards recognise outstanding Commonwealth young people (aged 15-29), whose projects are transforming lives in their communities; providing practical solutions to complex problems and helping to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals and 2030 Agenda.

More than 1000 entries were received this year – the highest ever recorded. The finalists were selected across each of the award’s regional categories (Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe & Canada, and the Pacific) following a rigorous judging process.

The awards

The top finalist from each region will be announced as the regional winner at the official awards ceremony on 16 March. The ceremony will be held virtually for the second time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be live-streamed on the Commonwealth’s social platforms.

Of these five regional winners, one outstanding young person will become the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2022.

All 20 finalists will each receive a trophy, certificate and £1,000 to expand the impact of their projects. Each regional winner will receive £3,000 and the overall pan-Commonwealth winner will take home a total of £5,000.

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Commonwealth Secretariat has partnered with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) to offer an additional prize of £40,000 in funding to one project, delivered over the course of two years.

The selected winner will also be announced at the official awards ceremony. They will be enrolled onto QCT’s Platinum Jubilee Fund programme and given access to coaching and development opportunities to help their project flourish.

A global spotlight on young people

Speaking ahead of the announcement, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “Every year I am blown away by our youth award winners' talent, resilience, dedication, and tenacity. This year, we recognise the skill, imagination and dedication of young people in the face of the immense challenges created during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And at COP26 in Glasgow, I was very impressed to see former youth awards finalists such as Brianna Fruean and Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti leading vital conversations about climate change. It reminded me of the importance of continuing to put the efforts of our amazing young people in the global spotlight.  

“Sixty per cent of the 2.5 billion people in the Commonwealth are under the age of 30 and the Commonwealth Charter makes clear the active role and contributions of young people in advancing the values that bind our family of nations together. I am delighted to recognise a new cohort of young innovators and changemakers as we pull together to realise the Commonwealth’s shared goal of a peaceful and prosperous future for all.”

The call for nominations was announced on International Youth Day on 12 August 2021. The judging panel included high commissioners, development experts and youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.

The finalists

The 2022 finalists, in alphabetical order by region and individual surname, are:


Achare Elvis Ayamba (Cameroon)

Achare Ayamba headshot
Achare Elvis Ayamba

Focus: SDG 14 – Life Below Water

Achare is the founder of the ‘Environment and Food Foundation’ which promotes sustainable conservation, protection and restoration management of marine and freshwater ecosystems, mangroves, and oceans. The foundation has held clean-up events which have removed 60,000kg of plastic waste and 50,000kg of invasive Salvinia plant. Over 2000 students and community member have also been educated on marine preservation and 5500 fishermen and fish-smokers have been supported to maintain eco-friendly livelihoods.

Joy Egbe (Nigeria)

Joy Egbe headshot
Joy Egbe

Focus: SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy

As the co-founder of ‘Newdigit’ Joy runs a cleantech start-up providing zero emissions energy to low-income households in Nigeria. Their “Just Add Water” device uses electrolysis to produce hydrogen gas from water which is then used for cooking and electricity. Units have been provided to 47 households and five small businesses, and over 300 young people have been trained in solar panel tech and installation.

Franc Kamugyisha (Uganda)

Franc Kamugyisha headshot
Franc Kamugyisha

Focus: SDG 13 – Climate Action

Franc is the founder of ‘EcoPlastile’, an organisation which recycles consumer plastic and glass waste into long-lasting plastic timbers, roofing tiles and biodegradable facemasks and shields. The organisation has created over 180 jobs paying 1.9 times the national wage, recycled 360 tonnes of plastic and runs a microinsurance programme whereby over 100 uninsured households can use plastic waste as a financial resource for medical services.

Sylivia Kyomuhendo (Uganda)

Sylvia Kyomuhendo headshot
Sylivia Kyomuhendo

Focus: SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being

Sylivia is the founder and director of the ‘Infants Health Foundation’, a grassroots organisation breaking down the barrier to access healthcare through free motorcycle mobile clinics and essential maternal treatment and information. IHF runs ten motorcycle ambulances transporting patients to health facilities and has set up 25 one-day monthly outreach clinics each serving approximately 220 patients. Over 150,000 people have also received maternal support and information through community meetings, radio, social media, and workshops.


Abrahim Ali Shah (Pakistan)

Abrahim Ali Shah headshot
Abrahim Ali Shah

Focus: SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being

Abrahim is the founder of ‘Mobiliti’ the first and only indigenous prosthetics manufacturer in Pakistan focused on a holistic approach for the inclusion of differently abled people in society. Launching an international standards compliant prosthetic foot for less than $100 (seven times less than Western competitors), Mobiliti has served over 1250 patients and used over 200kg of carbon fibre waste, bound for landfill sites, in their products. Twenty per cent of the team’s workforce is also differently abled, reflective of the company’s values.

Edward Yee (Singapore)

Edward Yee headshot
Edward Yee

Focus: SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Edward is the co-founder of ‘GivFunds Social Ventures’, a non-profit organisation which provides sustainable and low-cost capital to neglected social enterprises using data from local communities. The organisation has impacted over 45,000 lives directly, over 900,000 lives indirectly and has helped many social enterprises raise major multimillion dollar funding from a range of high-profile funds.

Lilan Dayananda (Sri Lanka)

Lilan Dayananda headshot
Lilan Dayananda

Focus: SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

As the Co-Founder and CEO of ‘Elzian Agro’ Lilan offers rural farmers smart agronomy solutions to increase crop yield organically and helps them respond to significant changes in soil and weather and potential pest threats through data-based prediction reports. The project has reached more than 50,000 farmers and supports government bodies in Sri Lanka to better understand the importance of modern smart agronomy solutions.

Supriya Paul (India)

Supriya Paul headshot
Supriya Paul

Focus: SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth

Supriya is the CEO and co-founder of ‘Josh Talks’, a social-tech organisation creating a physical and digital infrastructure to support the aspirations of Indian youth by teaching them the skills to find decent work. Presented in ten vernacular languages used in India, Josh Talks has over 13 million subscribers across its channels while the e-learning app has over 160,000 young Indians learning critical, technical, and soft skills to advance their careers.


Mickel Alexander (Trinidad and Tobago)

Mickel Alexander headshot
Mickel Alexander

Focus: SDG 4 – Quality Education

Mickel is the co-founder of ‘The 2 Cents Movement’, one of the largest youth-led non-profits in Trinidad and Tobago which works to meet the educational and supportive needs of young people through arts-based tours, campaigns, poetry and spoken word. The non-profit reaches 20,000-30,000 young people annually across the Caribbean, earning mass appeal and has gone on to advocate against the radicalisation of young Caribbeans at risk of joining overseas conflicts.

Sasha Middleton (Antigua and Barbuda)

Sasha Middleton headshot
Sasha Middleton

Focus: SDG 13 - Climate Action

Sasha is the CEO of ‘Antigua and Barbuda Marine Ecosystems Protected Area Trust Inc’, one of ten National Conservation Trust Funds in the Caribbean. The project’s mission is to actively fundraise and work with multi-sectoral partners to support the protection, recovery, and effective management of Antigua and Barbuda’s protected areas. Sasha has helped the trust to fundraise and distribute over $600,000 in recovery efforts in Barbuda, employ over 100 people in various Trust projects, and support over 40 children in after-school programmes.

Rianna Patterson (Dominica)

Rianna Patterson headshot
Rianna Patterson

Focus: SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being

Rianna is the founder of the ‘Dominica Dementia Foundation’, a youth led dementia charity that aims to raise awareness of dementia, provide emotional support to families and caretakers, and facilitate research on dementia. The Foundation has supported communities and families nationwide including over 500 older people in care homes, reached 20,000 people through awareness efforts across the region, and worked alongside the Government of Dominica to include dementia in the National Consensus.

Monique Vernon (Belize)

Monique Vernon headshot
Monique Vernon

Focus: SDG 14 – Life Below Water

Monique is the founder of ‘Mr. Goby and Friends’, a women-led recycling project focused on the proper waste management of plastic pollutants, marine protection, conservation, and restoration. The initiative organises weekly clean-ups, educational videos and supports other eco-friendly businesses to create a circular economy from the trash. They have also collected over 10,000 plastic bottles and caps which have been donated to the Belize Cancer Centre in exchange for free chemotherapy treatment for children.

Europe and Canada

Asha Hollis (Canada)

Asha Hollis headshot
Asha Hollis

Focus: SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being

Asha is the creator of the ‘SOLVE Mystery Toolkit’ which is a free, ready-to-use programme for middle school teachers to educate their students on the risks of vaping and to help students make safer choices. The toolkit has been used by over 3000 students across North America and has been licensed to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, with an updated version (HeartSmartSOLVE) for Canadian students launched in January 2022. Asha has also led the development and adoption of the University of Calgary’s ‘Global Access to Medicines Guidelines’, enabling access to more affordable medicine in low-income countries.

Maria Kramvi (Cyprus)

Maria Kramvi headshot
Maria Kramvi

Focus: SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

As the co-founder of ‘Rhythm of Cyprus’ Maria runs an education programme which uses music as a peacebuilding tool to connect Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot children, and build sustainable communities based on inclusion and understanding. As the team lead of ‘Sistema Cyprus’, Maria also provides free music education to migrants, refugees and underprivileged children. Over 2000 children have benefited from the initiative, supporting social sustainability and peacebuilding in the region.

Jemima Lovatt (United Kingdom)

Jemima Lovatt headshot
Jemima Lovatt

Focus: SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Jemima is the founder of ‘Thrive Future’, an initiative which partners with businesses to address taboo gender inequality topics such as domestic abuse, sexual harassment and unequal pay. Thrive Future has trained over 1200 delegates and launched a digital gender equality platform featuring specialist expertise, thought leadership, awareness, and training videos.

Kasha Sequoia Slavner (Canada)

Kasha Sequoia Slavner headshot
Kasha Sequoia Slavner

Focus: SDG 13 - Climate Action

Kasha is the founder of the ‘Global Sunrise Project’, a youth-led social enterprise which creates positive-impact media content and youth workshops to empower students to make positive impacts in their local and global communities. The workshops have helped reached over 500 students and its first feature-length documentary ‘The Sunrise Storyteller’ has screened internationally at 60+ festivals, been seen by over 25,000 people and won 30 awards to date.


Thompson Auri (Papua New Guinea)

Thompson Auri headshot
Thompson Auri

Focus: SDG 1 – No Poverty

Thompson is an Information Specialist & Airstrip Surveyor for the Rural Airstrip Agency in PNG. This Agency works to restore closed airstrips in PNG, and in doing so, allow formally isolated communities to access vital treatment and services. Thompson’s work conducting group consultations to assess local needs has helped see over 20 airstrips set up, giving thousands of people in rural communities access to better healthcare, education, income generation and a better standard of living.

Madeleine Buchner (Australia)

Madeleine Buchner headshot
Madeleine Buchner

Focus: SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-being

As founder and CEO of ‘Little Dreamers Australia’, Madeleine is working towards an equal world for young carers, providing internationally recognised best practice programmes focusing on health, wellbeing, social connectedness, financial capabilities, and education and employment opportunities. Little Dreamers supports thousands of young carers each year through online and in-person peer support, holiday programmes, mentoring, tutoring and in-school education and training.

Naomi Longa (Papua New Guinea)

Naomi Longa headshot
Naomi Longa

Focus: SDG 14 – Life Below Water

Naomi is the Director and Team Leader of ‘Sea Women of Melanesia’, an organisation empowering indigenous women with the skills and resources they need to take the lead in building marine protected areas in their own coral reefs and raise community awareness to enhance fisheries and biodiversity in the region. The project has given marine resource management advice to thousands of women across over 25 coastal communities, directly trained over 30 indigenous women, and helped deliver humanitarian aid into partner villages and hospitals, benefiting hundreds of lives.

Lavetanalagi Seruiraduvatu (Fiji)

Lavetanalagi Seru headshot
Lavetanalagi Seru

Focus: SDG 13 - Climate Action

Lavetanalagi is the Coordinator of Fiji’s ‘Alliance for Future Generations’ which works to build a generation wide movement of young leaders who meaningfully contribute to sustainable efforts in Fiji. The initiative has provided educational materials to over 300 underprivileged children; trained hundreds of young leaders in areas such as climate action and food security; and supported the fostering of peace and understanding between youth in the region across different racial and ethnic backgrounds.


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Media contact

  • Amy Coles  Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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