unctad.org | Harnessing Youth Entrepreneurship: Key to a better Future
Harnessing Youth Entrepreneurship: Key to a better Future
27 June 2017
Entrepreneurship is the key driving tool for most economies. It facilitates effective economic growth and development forenhanced sustainability.

According to the International Labour Organization, the world is facing a worsening youth unemployment crisis. Around 73 million young people are out of work and are three times more likely to be unemployed than adults. With more than 60 per cent of the population of Commonwealth countries under the age of 30, finding quality training and a decent job is a serious challenge.

Many young entrepreneurs from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances face age discrimination by suppliers, customers and institutions; a lack of support and belief from family or friends; limited sources of training in entrepreneurial skills and an unfriendly regulatory environment.

ECOSOC Youth Forum 
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A strong entrepreneurial "ecosystem" would lead to relevant school curricula to support entrepreneurial competencies and a focus on innovation. Building public-private partnerships would also improve the overall business environment, enhance network support and ease access to credit and market information.

"Youth unemployment continues to hit critical levels. It is important for all of leaders to create the right ecosystems for a more conducive environment to youth entrepreneurship,", said UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi, adding "Young people have great solutions and gven the right opportunities and support, they have huge potential to drive economic growth."

UNCTAD in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat developed a Youth Entrepreneurship Policy Guide, aiming to advance youth entrepreneurship, to support the creation and strengthening of national systems that provide young people with the entrepreneurial skills, resources as well as the networks they need to start and develop new businesses.

The guide includes recommended actions for policymakers and contains around 90 cases of policy measures that have had a positive impact. It encourages governments to develop comprehensive strategies that include policies, programmes and institutions while taking into account national socio-economic factors and development challenges.

It builds on the Commonwealth Guiding Framework for Youth Enterprise – a resource tool designed to assist governments with implementing youth enterprise development programmes – and UNCTAD’s Entrepreneurship Policy Framework, which supports policymakers in developing countries to design initiatives, measures and institutions to promote entrepreneurship.

In partnership, UNCTAD and the Commonwealth Secretariat offer technical assistance and capacity building based on the guide’s framework to countries that wish to develop their youth entrepreneurship ecosystem.

In the quest to find solution to the youth unemployment matters, UNCTAD also developed a new training session for youth (called "VISION"),within the Empretec programme, to help youth develop new skills that can be applied to other challenges in life.

Non-cognitive skills, such as opportunity recognition, innovation, critical thinking, resilience, decision-making, teamwork, and leadership will benefit all youth whether or not they intend to become or continue as entrepreneurs.

Cameroon is the first country implementing the VISION program at national level. The pilot phase in Colleges and Universities was conducted through 2016 and 2017 and the national launch is expected to take place early 2018.

To give access to the broader public worldwide, UNCTAD and the University Politecnico di Milano developed in 2016 the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) called "Entrepreneurship without Borders", addressed to young people, particularly to students and young graduates willing to learn about new business development.

The first Start-Up for SDGs event will take place in Kigali, Rwanda, on 20 July 2017and is organized in partnership with the Commonwealth and ITC, within the Youth Connekt Africa Summit.

Young entrepreneurs from the Gambia, Uganda and Tanzania will share their experiences and exchange with the audience on how new products and policies can be introduced for young entrepreneurs, taking advantage of information and communication technologies (ICT).


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