Fijian among five people to receive funding from Gates Foundation

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Rinesh Sharma is one of five recipients of a One Young World grant under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Picture: SUPPLIED

Rinesh Sharma of Smart Farms Fiji is one of five people from around the world who will receive funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and United Way to help tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The grant is being provided under a program titled One Young World – a global forum which counts among its counsellors – Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and British actor Emma Watson.

Mr Sharma was earmarked as one of the first beneficiaries of the funding for his work in providing agro-technology which allowed communities to continue growing food in Fiji.

According to One Young World, new statistics from 1000 young leaders has revealed that two out of three or 62 per cent of young people don’t believe their government has adequately addressed their concerns regarding coronavirus or engaged in enough international cooperation to tackle COVID-19.

One Young World’s research also found that 72 per cent of young people have volunteered their time to help others during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they continued to be underfunded.

“The fund has been established to provide the immediate distribution of finance to young leaders on the front lines of the COVID-19 response – with donations distributed widely across countries and sectors,” said One Young World in a statement released this morning.

As the founder of Smart Farms Fiji, Mr Sharma has developed the “Growing Essential Greens Home Kit System” as an innovative solution to the food security and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for Fiji.

UN Special Envoy for Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake said the COVID-19 Young Leaders Fund was the type of bold action required to champion young people who were combating coronavirus in the front lines.

“I commend One Young World for this fantastic initiative and urge others to support this effort to ensure that young people’s work is properly funded and respected,” she said.