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The network effect across Europe

Anita Tiessen
Anita Tiessen Chief Executive Officer Youth Business International

As the Youth Business Europe (YBE) programme supported by Citi Foundation has come to a close, reflecting on the achievements of the last five years makes me incredibly proud of YBI and what the network and our partners can achieve together.

Over the course of the programme 11 of our members supported more than 38,000 young people to start or strengthen 11,000 businesses through training, networking, mentorship, and in some cases, financial assistance. This has also created over 8,000 new jobs helping to drive economic improvements well into the future.

A real highlight of the programme has been seeing the power of the network effect in action. Collaboration across members fostered innovation for new ideas and led to tangible country-level improvements through sharing best practice. Meanwhile a strong focus on digital spurred new technologies and approaches, such as digitising work materials and creating new online platforms. In essence each member was enabled to multiply their impact thanks to the network.

At YBI we are particularly focused on supporting marginalised young people to start their own businesses and an important aspect of the programme was the focus on engaging youth populations that are harder to reach or face particular challenges.

For example, with regards to migrant and refugee entrepreneurs the programme’s work triggered the creation of a regional network for migrant entrepreneurs (M-UP), which supported young people like Walid a young entrepreneur from Algeria running his business in The Netherlands.

As only one in three businesses across Europe are run by women another highlight for me was the Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Europe Award 2020 where we celebrated the talented, passionate and resilient young women the YBE programme supported. It was impressive and motivating to hear from so many talented female business leaders and entrepreneurs. Women like Mariia, who won the award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year.

The wide variety of businesses that have been supported through Youth Business Europe shows the crucial contribution of young entrepreneurs to societies and economies. It demonstrates the continued value of the network to remove barriers and support young entrepreneurs from all walks of life to turn their great ideas into successful businesses.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Citi Foundation and our participating members Adie (France), Positive Planet (France),  KIZ (Germany),  Nyföretagar Centrum (Sweden),  microStart (Belgium), Inner City Enterprise (Ireland), MicroLab (Italy),  Qredits (Netherlands),  Youth Business Spain, Youth Business Russia with support from Impact Hub Moscow (Russia) and MOST (Kazakhstan) for their commitment and hard work during the programme. Now, as the COVID-19 crisis makes starting or sustaining a new business harder than ever we must continue to support young people and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship faced by so many, to encourage a diverse, rich and varied economic recovery.

To read more about the success of the YBE programme and read more of the stories of the young people supported please see our end of programme report here or watch the video below.

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