On Thursday, 19 October, YBI’s CEO Anita Tiessen joined a panel at the World Investment Forum: Investing In Youth Entrepreneurship, Millennials & Gen Z as business trailblazers alongside RT Hon Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations; Hasan Haider, Founder and Managing Partner at Plus Venture Capital Ltd; Marina Bianca Kälin, Senior Associate at Korn Ferry; Sanya Rajpal, CEO at Adagio VR; Jovia Kisakye, Founder of Sparkle Agro; and Jessica Anuna, Founder and CEO of Klasha.
The conversation highlighted the importance of increased investment in youth entrepreneurship because many barriers remain in place that prevent millions of young people around the world from realising their entrepreneurial potential. This means that we are missing out on their ideas, innovations and solutions and new businesses that can create new jobs, shape local communities, and drive economic growth.
To make entrepreneurship more accessible to all young people and harness their contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, it is crucial that structural barriers are removed and accessible and impactful support is provided to youth-led micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Youth Business International (YBI) advocates for:
- Inclusive and accessible entrepreneurship support programmes: different young people have different barriers to overcome and specific support needs. A one-size-fits-all approach is not effective in supporting all groups of young people, particularly those who are underrepresented in entrepreneurship. Tailored support that addresses specific needs is key. Some measures that can improve the accessibility of support programmes include making them free of charge, offering online courses, conducting targeted outreach to underserved groups, and making accommodations for people with disabilities.
- Offering specialised support for young green and social entrepreneurs: the support needs of young green and social entrepreneurs who put purpose over profit are different. They need specialist support to integrate passions with a business purpose; build a market for new and innovative ideas, measure and prove the social and/or environmental impact of their business, and access finance. This support is key in harnessing the potential of young entrepreneurs and MSMEs to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Enhancing Entrepreneurship Education and Skills Development: YBI uses an integrated approach to youth entrepreneurship support that encompasses personal development, business development, and facilitating an enabling environment. Personal development refers to the development of soft skills and an entrepreneurial mindset, business development requires the provision of technical training, and facilitating an enabling environment focusses on access to finance, markets and networks. All three components are equally important to achieving entrepreneurial success.
- Creating better access to finance and financial health: Lack of access to finance is a key barrier holding many young people back from starting or growing their business. This is particularly true for young people from underserved groups and those running informal businesses. Many are also unaware of the financial products and services that are available to them. New businesses run by young people have shorter credit or financial histories, meaning the benchmarks many financial institutions rely on are not applicable to them. To remove those barriers, it is crucial to create simplified policy frameworks for young entrepreneurs to access finance, offer alternative credit scores or guarantor arrangements for young entrepreneurs and support them to develop financial literacy and resilience.
- Promoting decent work principles: Decent work is essential for business growth and sustainability, employee retention, motivation and productivity. Decent work for all is also one of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is vital that we support young entrepreneurs to contribute to this goal and become responsible employers through decent work skills training. This includes being able to assess workplace health and safety, calculate fair wages and benefits, develop ways to present employee contracts, and practice anti-discrimination.