With a strong international presence, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is proud to help young people all over the world discover their potential and have the confidence to pursue their goals. The Award fosters entrepreneurial skills in young people which is non-negotiable as technological advances continue to change the workforce and the critical role of small businesses in the economy.
Below are stories of our Awardees from around the globe,who have been inspired by the experiences and skills they have acquired through their Award.
Duncan Vanniekerk – South Africa
Having seen the everyday lives of people living in disadvantaged communities, Duncan Vanniekerk was frustrated by corporations offering to help for one day and then leaving the next.
Seeking a long term solution to the problems they face, this Gold Awardee set out to create a project that would encourage companies to make a lasting impact on communities. The SPONSORME initiative was established as an online platform to support and sponsor social change initiatives.
“The Award influenced the way I saw an issue I was not happy with. It gave me the confidence to put myself out there and try to do something about it. It made me understand that if you are committed to something, you cannot let anything else get you down – you have just got to focus and work harder than everyone else around you, until you achieve your goals.”
Duncan is providing communities with added support, connecting disadvantaged sports men and women to individuals and corporates who can help them achieve their dreams.
Comfort Banda – Ghana
Bronze Awardee, Comfort Banda, was able to fund her own education through enterprising.
During her Skill section, Comfort was given the opportunity to be a part of a career development program called ‘Reach your Dream” that would equip vulnerable young people with the skills to start their own business.
Comfort started two businesses running alongside her schooling which has impacted her future employability and ignited an ambition to become an accountant.
“During the programme, I learnt and gained knowledge in business start-up, budgeting, saving and spending.”
“I am particularly indebted to the Award and hope to inspire other troubled young people like my former self to participate in the Award. I am excited I took the bold decision to be part of this great family called the Award and wholeheartedly encourage other young people to do the same.”
Farhana Meghami – Bangladesh
Gold Award Participant, Farhana Meghami, discovered a problem within her community that needed to be solved during her Service activity at a Bangladeshi aged care facility.
She found that many female residents did not need to be there but had nowhere else to turn as their families could no longer support them. Women were becoming economically disempowered and experienced many hardships with no income. Through getting to know these women, she found that some had amazing handicraft talents that could be put to use.
At the same time, Farhana recognised an environmental issue with natural waste from large factories being dumped in nearby lakes and rivers causing enormous pollution problems. Her creativity and entrepreneurial thinking resulted in a project that would see these women teach other women to craft beautiful baskets, bed covers, table mats and bags from recycling local waste which could be sold as merchandise.
“Heeding the success stories of people, especially women, in developed and less developed countries has inspired me beyond measure into believing that even though Bangladesh is an under-developed country, the women of its land can have an optimistic future with the help of those triumphant women entrepreneurs who are willing to help the less fortunate to help themselves.”
Robbie Gillies – Australia
During his Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards, Robbie discovered a passion for social enterprise which has lead him to make a difference to some of Melbourne’s most vulnerable citizens.
Robbie became aware of the negative attitudes towards people experiencing homelessness and wanted to make a change. As Co-founder of a charity clothing store ‘Homeless of Melbourne’, Robbie is creating waves and opening society’s eyes to untold stories and removing the stigma.
“The Award taught me to structure time, realise important priorities and get physically fit – all great things to learn at a young age. This is in addition to the social aspects, like breeding compassion and fostering community outreach.”
At Duke of Ed Victoria we recognise that a vibrant entrepreneurial environment is a key solution to youth unemployment and believe all young Australians should be empowered to create their own opportunities rather than wait for these opportunities to find them!
CEO of Duke of Ed Victoria Anoushka Gungadin says “through The Duke of Ed Award we see our Awardees build confidence, self-esteem, maturity, leadership and resilience. Young people develop skills for life and work, fulfil their potential and have a brighter future.”