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How are young entrepreneurs responding to global challenges?

Today is UN International Youth Day (IYD) and this year’s theme, Youth Engagement for Global Action, celebrates the leading role of young people in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through Youth Business International’s global network of expert organisations who are local engines of youth entrepreneurship, YBI and our partners have been supporting young people to respond to the global pandemic through digital technology driven solutions to address the societal challenges posed by COVID-19.

At Youth Business International, we see youth entrepreneurship as a critical lever for recovery, resilience and growth. It creates decent work for young people, drives inclusive economic growth, and strengthens communities.

Through funding from, YBI are delivering a rapid response and recovery programme in response to COVID-19 that backs MSMEs, sustains livelihoods and supports communities.  

Chan Kai Ho, a young entrepreneur and mental health specialist from Hong Kong is receiving support through our 1-year Rapid Response and Recovery programme with, delivered by our member Youth Business Hong Kong.

Chan has identified the increased need for mental health support post-COVID-19.  Particularly, as many mental health services have had to suspend their activities as a result of the pandemic.

“High medical costs and social stigmas of mental disorders have deterred people in need from seeking professional help,” he says. “My clients always told me my service has been a life-saver for them mentally. So I asked myself, why don’t I make my service accessible to everyone in an easier manner with the help of technology?”

Chan Kai Ho has been receiving support from YBHK to develop a brand-new digital mental health app, Void. Via the app, he hopes to make mindfulness and meditation available to everyone, no matter their social or financial status.

A three-year partnership between IKEA Foundation and Youth Business International (YBI) is also building the digital capacities of our members B’YEAH in Bangladesh and BYST in India.  Our Digital Accelerator Approach (DAA) facilitates the application of appropriate digital delivery methodologies to build young entrepreneurs’ digital capacities.

Mr. Jagadeesh Palraj is a BYST supported rural entrepreneur from Chengalpattu district, which is 60km away from Chennai. When the pandemic hit, his company Jaga Enterprises switched from making organic soaps from locally sourced ingredients, to manufacturing hand sanitisers and hand washes. Through the programme we have provided advice to help him market his products on his website, through social media and other digital platforms.

Already we are seeing that young people are feeling the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic more than most as opportunities for youth employment shrink. Young innovators are already responding to the virus through social impact innovation. Entrepreneurship is a transformative tool to unlock income generation, job creation and economic growth, and is an under-recognised route to decent work for young people, post COVID-19.

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