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Our Year

Read a summary of the highlights, insights and reflections of the past year at Fondation Botnar.

Working towards a future where every young person has the opportunity to thrive

As we reflect on the journey of Fondation Botnar in 2023, we are filled with deep gratitude for the unwavering support and collaboration of our partners, community, and team. Their commitment has been instrumental in our collective mission to support the wellbeing of young people worldwide.

This year has been a humbling testament to what we can achieve together.

Our work with partners this year highlighted that young people can bring about significant positive change in their communities when given the right opportunities. This was vividly demonstrated in our Fit4Future projects, where young participants led initiatives to improve safety, education, and community wellbeing through innovative technological solutions.

The expansion of the OurCity initiative to five cities globally illustrates the power of collective effort in creating inclusive urban environments where young people are active participants. In December, Stefan had the opportunity to see for himself how young people are actively shaping their city through the OurBarranquilla programme in Colombia. And our first global workshop in Tanga, Tanzania, reinforced the critical success factor of local ownership in innovative city programmes involving young people. We are inspired that through such participatory forms of governance, young people are developing the capacity not only to solve their local challenges and improve their wellbeing as a result but also to contribute to solving some of our global challenges.

In July, at the Women Deliver Conference 2023 in Kigali, we participated in discussions highlighting the vital role of youth in shaping future dialogues and policies on issues that matter to them. Our pop-up radio show at the event, Rising Minds, a platform co-designed by young people and some of our partners, helped ignite and capture critical dialogues on digital rights, mental health, and adolescent health and wellbeing. Flavia participated in the Rising Minds podcast and collaborated with the young people attending the conference. The show lives on in podcast form as a resource for future listening and learning.

2023 also saw the launch of u’GOOD, a programme focused on enhancing research into the relational wellbeing of young people in the Global South. This programme will explore wellbeing through four critical dimensions: livelihoods, mental health, climate change, and digitalisation. Central to u’GOOD is the active involvement of young people in co-creating the research agenda, ensuring their needs and perspectives are at the forefront. We aim to foster a deeper understanding of young people’s wellbeing, addressing their specific needs through a collaborative and inclusive research approach.

We also engaged with global leaders to catalyse action on young people’s wellbeing with Flavia and Stefan in New York in September. We convened partners at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2023 Meeting, mobilising more than 10 organisations to make a collective commitment to improving young people’s wellbeing globally. Key areas of commitment included improving urban environments for youth safety, promoting safe digital spaces, and prioritising mental health . This contributes to the broader goals of the 1.8 Billion Young People For Change campaign and the PMNCH-led Global Forum for Adolescents, where we together secured commitments from 16 governments to ensure policy changes and priorities for adolescent wellbeing.

In 2023, we also embarked on a crucial journey of strategic refinement. Following an external evaluation, we focused our philanthropic strategy on guiding more effective action. This refinement process was not just a strategic realignment but a deeper commitment to listening, learning, and adapting to the evolving needs of young people and our programme collaborators across the globe.

Thank you for being part of this journey. Your support, collaboration, and belief in our mission are invaluable as we continue to strive towards a future where every young person has the opportunity to thrive.

Flavia Bustreo

Vice Board Chair

Stefan Germann

CEO 2017 - 2023

Thank you to Stefan!

After seven years of exemplary leadership, Stefan Germann, who served as the first CEO of Fondation Botnar since establishing its Management Office in 2017, has decided to move on to a new challenge. Under his leadership, the foundation has reached several milestones, including building a dedicated team with a collaborative culture, awarding high-impact grants for the wellbeing of young people, in particular, promoting the meaningful role of young people in determining and shaping issues and responses to their needs, and setting the organisation on an exciting path of innovation. Thank you, Stefan – and all the best for your next endeavour.

*Alexander Schulze, Chief Programme Officer, will serve as interim CEO, leading the organisation together with the management team from 1 January 2024.

Raising youth voices in 2023

Rising Minds is a platform for young people to shape conversations on the issues that impact their wellbeing. First launched as a pop-up radio show at the Women Deliver 2023 conference, the podcast gives space to critical dialogues on topics including digital rights, mental health, and adolescent health and wellbeing, with the potential for covering more subjects in the future. Explore some of the Rising Minds insights from young people on these topics and more.

Sonali Silva


“Get creative with resistance… If [big tech] already know something is bad, and they don’t want to do anything about it, then maybe we can be just a little bit louder.”

Chepkoech Rotich

Amnesty International Kenya

“Any violation of human rights online can have real consequences offline.”

Owe Marri Berizo

Digital rights and gender advocate

“There are so many occurrences online that are actually classified as online gender-based violence, but are often disregarded. Because we are more familiar with gender-based violence that happens offline, in our streets. But the difference is this happens online.”

Agha-Nwi Fru

Mental Health Advocate, Cameroon

"When I founded SEMBE - a civil society organisation enhancing youth development - I had found something that made me feel good about myself, and I kept doing more of it. The more I felt good about myself, the more I realised my self-worth."

Anonymous Activist

“The most pressing issues we encounter in the digital space include red tagging. It’s a term that we use in the Philippines to refer to the government targeting and tagging activists as insurgents or enemies of the state… without the right amount of evidence.”

Safe Sisters Fellow, Zimbabwe

Safe Sisters

“I understand how physical and institutional safety play a big role in my life. So now I can teach younger people and women within my community how to access the internet safely.”

Raashi Saxena


“People should know that when using ChatGPT, they are giving away an aspect of their data without clear rights or privacy protection.”

Roshni Anwar

Civil Society Support Programme

"The digital divide is a real issue. And when half of the population cannot access basic rights, how can the country progress?"

Isaac Olufadewa

Slum and Rural Health Initiative

“We see young people not just as beneficiaries or as recipients of projects or funds, programmes. So the programmes do not just happen to them, they are co-created, they are championed, they are recognised and their voice needs to be actively heard in programmes.”

Nii Noi Kofi Omaboe


“I envision a future where we can better work together, where the intersection between digital rights, advocacy and climate justice is strong and vibrant.”

Natálie Terčová

IGF-Czech Republic

“Access to technology and the internet is not universal, leaving marginalised communities and vulnerable groups at a disadvantage.”

Nadia Tjahja

United Nations University - CRIS

“Transparency is one of the biggest issues. We need internet governance to build that trust.”

Condolizzarice Akumawah

Youth for Change and Empowerment

“Only adolescent girls can share special perspectives and experiences of certain things, and this can lead to better, sustainable, and effective solutions [...] As adolescent girls, we were born ready.”

Deepshikha Ghosh

The YP Foundation

“Trust that we are serious. Wherever we are speaking, [young people] want to be heard, we want to be listened to. But, mostly, trust that we can do this.”

Gabrielle Bailey

Children’s Rights Innovation Fund

“Funding organisations need to get rid of the ‘we’ and allow young people to make the decisions that they think are best for the communities that they live in, and will continue to live in much longer than any of us will.”

LilianMaria Wambui

Y-Act Youth in Action

“Take up space. Be a young person. Take up space.”

Shirlyne Ingolo

Amref Health Africa

“If you do not consult us, if you do not include us, if you do not involve us, the majority of the solutions provided are not necessarily sustainable.”

Oliva Nalwadda

Adolescent & Global Health Advocate

“My advice to other young leaders is: If you feel it is tokenistic, if you feel they’re making you sign something you don’t even understand, it’s okay to say, ‘No’. It’s okay to say, ‘Could you give me more information so I can make an informed decision?’”

Helena Branco

Young feminist activist

“We talk about young people as the future, but we need to invest in the present, so we can actually have a promising future.”

Aditi Sivakumar


“It’s not a matter of bringing adolescents to the table because, if we don’t, they’re going to create their own bigger and stronger table. It’s about including adolescents because we have no choice at this point. It’s a population that we need and has been neglected.”

Yanta Limèy


“I would like to speak in my own voice, with my own people, for my own rights.”

Salew Kadena

Mental Health advocate

“Limiting access to quality education and future prospects can contribute to hopelessness, frustration, and an increased sense of feeling trapped in a cycle of poverty and conflict. This can have long-lasting effects on the mental health of young people living in conflict areas.”

Gary Layn


“Stories are a great medium to explore mental health. People engage with them easily without any judgement because they believe they will have fun. And because they do have fun, they tend to engage with it with an open mind and heart, and they identify with the characters.”

Jihad Bnimoussa


“There is a lot to learn in how teenagers support each other. It’s not linear or directive. It tends to be in the form of sitting with a lot of questions, being okay with uncertainty and not having answers, and being okay with changing every day. That can teach adults a lot.”

Manvi Tiwari


“People with lived experience should also be involved and included. But besides that, they should also be leading mental health research.”

In loving memory: Manvi was one of the brilliant and passionate contributors to the Rising Minds podcast, as well as several projects supported by Fondation Botnar. Her dedicated work, infectious warmth, and kindness will be long remembered and cherished.

Muskan Lamba

Lived experience and neurodivergence advocate

“Young people hold the power to address the global mental health crisis, especially in low and middle income countries. In India, over 50% of our population is young people, below the age of 35. There is a lot of potential in young people to create change and innovation, and to bring a lot of ideas to the table.”

Oriana Ortiz Parrao


“Healthy young people play a key role in building just, equitable, inclusive, and sustainable communities.”

Dorcas Zoogah


“When we talk about gender equality, we are looking at whether people have access to reproductive rights - when women and girls can make informed choices about their reproductive health.”

Felogene Anumo

Girls Globe

“There have been discussions around shifting the understanding of ‘mental health conditions’ and introducing the term ‘invisible disabilities’ and how that can be supported in the workplace, in schools, and at home.”

Marylize Biubwa

Intersectional feminist and activist

“There are high chances for children who have faced trauma to resort to silence as protection.”

Young people’s wellbeing in urban and digital spaces

Learn about our approach to ensuring the wellbeing of young people in urban environments around the world.

A relational approach to wellbeing

Young people’s wellbeing is at the heart of our work and that of our partners.

The current generation of children and young people live in a fast-paced, hyper-digitalised world. The confluence of geopolitical, environmental, socio-economic, technological, and cultural shifts facing the world’s 1.8 billion young people complicates how they live, work, learn, and interact, and how organisations work with young people to ensure their wellbeing.

We recognise that wellbeing encompasses not only individual needs but also the web of connections we make with others and the subjective perceptions that shape our experiences. This has led us to explore a relational understanding of wellbeing, its meaning, and foundations, and how we can work with our partners to put this into practice.

Find out more about what wellbeing means to us.

Stories of change

Explore how our work and partners are helping to improve young people’s lives in cities around the world.

“In our schools, we learn science subjects, but we do not put it into practice, such as solving problems in our communities. The GSTEP programme has given us the opportunity to solve problems in our localities and this can help Ghana as a whole.” Frederick Agyepong, GSTEP Finalist (GasMATT team)
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“I am grateful for the opportunity provided by ThinkZone. It has given me the confidence and desire to make a positive change in my community.” Barsarani Nayak, programme participant from Cuttack, Odisha
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NCD Programme
“When my parents joined me in activities like building a nutrition pyramid or doing exercises together, it wasn't only beneficial for our wellbeing but also strengthened the bonds within our family.” Phung Van Hoai Nam, Grade 12 Student, Tran Phu High School, Danang City
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“We use this application [YEA] to report to the government about locations that we feel are safe, unsafe, or very unsafe… We are very happy to join the AI&Me project and use the YEA application because we look forward to contributing our efforts to ensure the safety of the people of our beloved country.” Dieu Anh, student at Nguyen Du Secondary School, Hanoi
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Cities for Youth by Safetipin
Through the programme, young people are engaged to build their perspective on their right to the city, trained to use digital tools for participatory data collection, and enhance their capacity for designing public campaigns for their rights.” Sonali Vyas, Associate Director, Safetipin
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“We hear from young people in Bali and South Sulawesi that the wikithons are one of the first times where they’ve felt empowered and safe to express their opinions about civic issues and where those opinions will be heard and considered by policymakers and by their peers.” Alissa Stern, Co-Founder BASAibu (formerly BASAbali)
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Transform Health
“In 2023, advocacy efforts by Transform Health Kenya for an enabling legal environment on digital health yielded results with the passage of the Digital Health Act 2023. Section 36 of the Act reiterates the right to access personal health information which is the core of the My Data Our Health campaign. This is an advocacy win and we look forward to ensuring full compliance of this provision through the coalition's work.” Allan Achesa Maleche, KELIN, Transform Health Kenya
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“It matters that highschool students are at the centre of the Youth Data Collective to reimagine education in Romania. We have been part of the project design process and wish to get our voices heard.” Daria Ciufudean, President, Consiliul Județean al Elevilor Cluj
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“If I could change one thing about Koforidua, it would be to increase youth participation in decision-making and development projects in the city.” John Adjepong, Youth representative, STAR-Ghana Foundation
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“Protect children and young peoples’ rights in the digital world... equal rights and privacy protection must extend beyond the borders of Europe and reach all children and young people, no matter where they are. It is both a political and corporate responsibility that we must demand and defend, to ensure that no child or youth is exposed to relationships of disparity in the digital environment.” Abril, Digital Rights Champion
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“Thanks to these initiatives, young people are being heard more. After implementing our initiative, we received invitations to various public spaces that were initially inaccessible to us. Government entities and the community are increasingly interested in youth-led projects that can improve safety and yield positive outcomes.” Estiven Cano, youth partner of the “Flow and Bars” initiative in Envigado, Colombia
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Jamii ni Afya
“Zanzibar is the first country in East Africa to implement a national programme for community health workers supported by a digital system that aligns with the government’s priorities and national plans. We have every reason to be proud of these achievements and serve as a model for others to follow.” Hon. Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, Minister of Health, Zanzibar
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Moments and milestones

Read highlights of launches, engagements, and achievements of our partners and initiatives in 2023.

A new initiative for inclusive food systems

Urban Futures

Together with Hivos, Humanis, the RUAF Global Partnership on Urban Agriculture and Food Systems, and local partners, networks, and experts, we launched the Urban Futures programme. By fostering multi-stakeholder collaborations, this initiative will enable young people to influence urban food policies, shape narratives, and support an increase of financial investment into local food systems in intermediary cities across Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Image by: Tevin Tatenda Chimbwanda


Streets for Kids initiative launches in 10 cities around the world

Global Designing Cities Initiative

The Global Designing Cities Initiative‘s Streets for Kids programme selected 10 cities worldwide to advance projects aimed at making streets safer and more enjoyable for children and their caregivers. This initiative involves cities such as Abuja, Cuenca, Istanbul, Leon, Lima, Lusaka, Recife, Santiago, Solo, and Tyre, each undertaking diverse projects tailored to their unique urban contexts.

APRIL 2023

OurCity expands to Koforidua, Ghana


On Africa Day 2023, OurCity celebrated the expansion to Koforidua, Ghana, fostering youth-centred urban transformations. Following programmes running in Barranquilla, Cluj, Manta, and Tanga, Fondation Botnar is collaborating with the STAR-Ghana Foundation to support Koforidua’s youth in the design and implementation of projects in the city, and in strengthening their participation in city governance mechanisms.

MAY 2023

Healthy Cities for Adolescents expands to Ecuador

Healthy Cities for Adolescents

In 2023, Healthy Cities for Adolescents expanded to Ecuador, broadening its reach to six countries and 12 cities. The initiative aims to improve the health and wellbeing of adolescents in intermediary cities through catalysing changes in city systems. It empowers adolescents to take action on key issues affecting them including mental health, sexual and reproductive health, education, employability, public spaces, and climate change.

MAY 2023
Picture by: KELIN 2022

Launch of the Digital Health and Rights Project

Digital Health and Rights Project

An international consortium hosted by the University of Warwick will study the future of human rights using an innovative participatory approach that puts communities at the centre of research with the Digital Health and Rights Project. Building on its previous study findings on how digital transformation in health is shaping human rights for young people in low- and middle-income countries, the project will conduct research in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Vietnam to further understanding of how young adults experience both empowerment and discrimination online, and what kind of rights-based digital governance is needed for the future.

JUNE 2023

Governing Health Futures 2030 becomes DTH-Lab

Digital Transformations for Health Lab (DTH-Lab)

Following the call by The Lancet and Financial Times Commission on Governing Health Futures 2030 for stronger digital and data governance to improve young people’s wellbeing, we supported the establishment of the Digital Transformations for Health Lab (DTH-Lab) consortium. The DTH-Lab will continue the Commission’s portfolio of research and analysis and establish partnerships with young people, policymakers, technology companies, and other actors to promote digital and data governance.


New projects for research on youth, tech and urban governance


The TYPCities programme of five research consortia will explore the potential of technology for youth participation in the governance of intermediary cities in low- and middle-income countries by generating original research to inform policy, and ensure digital technologies are harnessed for more inclusive urban governance.


Driving new research on relational wellbeing


Launched in partnership with the National Research Foundation and the Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa), the u’GOOD programme seeks to develop effective strategies to enhance young people’s wellbeing in urban and peri-urban environments across the Global South. Research interventions will be undertaken across four critical issues facing young people: livelihoods, mental health, digitalisation, and climate change.


Expanding paediatric digital health research


The Basel Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH), formerly Botnar Research Centre for Child Health, received an additional CHF 50 million in funding to expand its activities. This funding will enable the creation of six new professorships focusing on paediatric digital health at the University of Basel and ETH Zurich. This expansion aligns with Fondation Botnar’s commitment to advancing paediatric health research, particularly in digital health.

August 2023

New venture philanthropy investments in 2023

Venture philanthropy

As part of our approach to support innovative solutions that are sustainable, scalable, and impactful, in 2023 Fondation Botnar made 11 new investments in early-stage start-up companies across seven sectors and six focus countries. Further, we committed to three follow-on investments aimed at fostering environments where social ventures can thrive, leveraging technology and collaboration to address critical challenges faced by young people.

December 2023
Picture by: YOMA

New learning to earning pathways with Yoma


The Youth Marketplace Agency (Yoma) reached significant milestones with the creation of two learning pathways. The digital pathway, backed by, provided tech skills training with 4,000 licences valued at USD 1.2 million. The Green Yoma initiative in South Africa empowered 1,060 NEET youth in environmental protection. These successes attracted new support, reinforcing Yoma’s commitment to supporting African youth.

Image by: YOMA

December 2023

Empowering Young Gamechangers to shape equitable city systems

Young Gamechangers

In 2023, the Young Gamechangers Initiative (YGI), a collaborative initiative by Fondation Botnar and UN-Habitat, launched its innovative programme in three pilot cities: Armenia (Colombia), Jatni (India), and Bargny (Senegal). This initiative employs the popular video game Minecraft as a participatory tool, enabling young people to contribute their ideas and visions for creating healthier, more inclusive urban spaces that prioritise their health, wellbeing, and social equity.

All Year

Supporting youth leadership in shaping digital health policy


In 2023, YET4H supported young people by integrating their perspectives into digital health policy, as evidenced by the development of key documents and a youth-focused research fellowship. In Tanzania, YET4H’s collaboration led to youth-inclusive digital health strategies and technical working groups. Globally, YET4H supported 13 youth-led organisations, enhancing their role in digital health. These initiatives underlined YET4H’s commitment to sustainable, youth-driven advocacy in digital health, highlighting the transformative impact on young people’s involvement in health policy and research.

All Year

Reflecting on our learning

Review our reflections and learnings from 2023, which will help shape our work in the future.

Get to know our team

Our work would not be possible without our dedicated and passionate team. Have you met our mountaineer extraordinaire and coffee connoisseur?

We are incredibly proud of the journey Fondation Botnar has been on this year. To our partners, team, and supporters, thank you!

The Future Now.
For Young People

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74