Successful applicants to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme(UN-Habitat_ youth mentorship programme, launched in the beginning of the year, have been paired with their respective mentors and begun their discussions. The aim of the youth mentorship programme is to increase the capacity of the youth-led agencies supported by UN-Habitat’s Urban Youth Fund.

Twenty-four organizations were selected this year to receive both a grant and training. These youth-led groups span various sectors, from technology and agriculture to governance, education and poverty reduction.

The programme pairs the mentors to projects, based on their interest areas and expertise to assist participating organizations to reach their full potential. The mentorship programme allows UN-Habitat to provide deeper and better support to those receiving grants from the Youth Fund, by strengthening the sustainability of the projects through capacity development tailored for young social entrepreneurs.

The call for applications received an overwhelming response from potential mentors, with ultimately eleven applicants chosen for the initial mentor program to work with specific youth-led organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The mentors are extraordinary people from the private, academia, and NGO sectors who are dedicating their time to support the project coordinators. UN-Habitat is excited to work with this group of professional people and is grateful for their dedication towards youth empowerment.We worked with refine+focus to develop and implement Youth Fund Strategic Planning supporting and enabling this success,  The following people have been selected in the first round:

Alexander Meek
Alex’s career has spanned across multiple industries and disciplines. He worked for Deutsche Bank Securities in 2007 after completing his undergraduate degree in 2010. Alex was involved with a global real estate partnership, in addition to successfully launching a consumer packaged goods startup company. Over the last year, Alex has started his own investment capital fund that focuses on private and public investments in the US. Alex is also pursuing his Executive MBA at Babson College.

Alexia Parks
Alexia Parks is a science journalist and impact entrepreneur. As Founder of the Women's Potential Network, she uses the new science of a woman's brain to inspire and motivate all women, everywhere, as leaders. Called "One of 50 people who matter most on the Internet," by Newsweek magazine, she also wrote for The Washington Post, was communications director for publishers of 100 major daily newspapers, founded a US national mentor-training program. Alexia is a Huffington Post blogger and has successfully authored 13 books.

Colette Young
Colette K. Young is a Korean-American entrepreneur working with consumer and technology based start-ups with a deep understanding of brand conception, strategy and growth. Colette has been coined one of the top entrepreneurs by Monster, The Today Show, Empact Summit, Bloomberg and MSNBC’s money and investing. Colette previously worked at First Mark Capital, an early-stage technology venture capital firm, Prada Corporate and with various technology-based start-ups in New York City. Moreover, she is a co-founder to The Happiness Assembly, a non-governmental organization.

Gerardo Porteny
Gerardo is a youth leader and social innovator. He represents the global movement Young Men for Gender Equality, inspiring youth around the world to join him in his life journey of recognizing the vital importance of empowering women in all sectors. Gerardo started the Pink Life Against Breast Cancer, which he founded when he was 16 years old, followed by Pink Life Racing, Green Life, and Life Republic.

Jason Moses
As an Architect major, Jason owns a New York City based Project Management firm managing design & construction projects for international fashion and hospitality companies. Since 2006, Jason has been affiliated with a small town in rural Ghana, creating community-based enterprises and designing low-cost, low-tech and locally sourced building projects. Jason is now expanding the lessons learned into a new global social business, Common, which connects stakeholders building in vulnerable communities with a globally sourced pool of resources, tools, and network.

Kristoffer Sundoy
Kristoffer has a master’s degree in engineering, and is currently working as a project leader in the seismic subsurface imaging industry. He has hands-on experience in strategy development, policy development, chairing and public speaking for several regional volunteer organizations in Europe, and was a member of the first UN-Habitat Youth Advisory Board.

Lokesh Hole
Lokesh is a management consultant with 13+ years of experience in leading and managing a diverse international team. Working with a global strategy consulting firm, he has managed more than 20 strategy consulting projects focused on addressing strategic issues faced by local, regional and global corporations covering range of topics including market entry, growth strategy, post-merger integration, strategic options development, customer and market segmentation strategy, and large scale transformation program governance.

Lucrecia Panizoni
Lucrecia has majored in Architecture with specific interest in urban planning from the Latin American corporate university -CIDEU. During the past years, she has developed her career in the public field by developing, managing and monitoring different projects that have had great impact in the cities and communities. Her job allows her to interact with other professionals, private institutions different social groups.

Maite Arrondo
Maite Arrondo has majored in Political Science at (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) and has a Master degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights). Currently she is conducting a PhD at Maastricht University (The Netherlands). She has been engaged with international and local NGOs for more than a decade and has professional experience as Project Assistant and as a Civil Servant. She has expertise in mainstreaming gender and human rights based approaches to development cooperation and she is currently based in Shanghai.

Taylor Kings:
Taylor has previously worked at the global advertising agency, Arnold Worldwide, and guided advertising strategies and implemented award-winning campaigns for one of the major operating components of the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the largest retail pharmacy company passion driven towards business growth. Taylor is currently a Senior Manager of Client Services at Her Campus Media, the first online community for college women at the United States. Taylor utilizes her marketing, advertising, and management skills to grow Her Campus’s interactive community of female college students, by developing and sustaining client-driven online and on-campus program activations.

Zahra Kassam
Zahra Kassam is the founder of Kuwa. As an urban planner, she is passionate about engaging communities and putting the people in the center of each process. She is a keen advocate for encouraging participation of all stakeholders at all levels of any program to foster empowerment and positive change for all.

For more information, click here or . The mentor program will have a new selection round for mentors in the second quarter of 2014.