YBI launches new programme in Korea to support young social entrepreneurs hit by the economic impact of COVID-19

YBI is delighted to be supported by a $2 million grant from Google.org, Google’s philanthropic arm, to lead a COVID-19 recovery programme in Korea.

The programme aims to provide access to entrepreneurial resources and content, training and support to 20,000 underserved social enterprises and small, medium enterprises (SMEs) in Korea. YBI is working with two delivery partners to deliver the programme: WT Foundation and Impact Square Inc.

This initiative follows the success of YBI's 2020-21 COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery programme, also supported by Google.org, which worked with entrepreneurs to sustain their businesses and overcome the initial impacts of the pandemic. This programme reached over 400,000 entrepreneurs in 32 countries across EMEA and APAC, including Korea, maintaining 95,628 jobs and with over 100,000 supported businesses still trading by the programme’s end.

To ensure the most vulnerable enterprises get the support they need, the program will deliver in-depth training and support with a focus on underserved groups in Korea including women and refugee social entrepreneurs, to help them build skills, confidence, and adaptability. 85.1% of social enterprises in Korea have reported reduced cash flows and 83.7% reported a drop in sales (ILO). Many social enterprises continue to lack sufficient knowledge and skills in business planning, innovation and operation. Moreover, last year the Korea Economic Research Institute reported that the sales of independent merchants (SMEs) were down 78.5% in the first half of the year alone and with business curfews recently being reintroduced to manage rising numbers of COVID cases, SMEs need support to pivot and adapt.

Over the next two years, YBI’s Korean delivery partners Work Together Foundation and Impact Square Inc will provide the following support to these SMEs and social enterprises:

  • Forums for social enterprises to share insights and knowledge on how social entrepreneurs have navigated COVID-19 successfully 

  • Online and offline intensive training courses for early-stage social enterprises on key topics including business model development, digital transformation and marketing with a specialised track for women-led social enterprises dealing with gender specific business challenges 

  • Peer networking events for social enterprises to receive in-depth business consulting and technical advice from business mentors 

  • A mobile-friendly online platform that will provide access to support resources for SMEs, start-ups and social enterprises 

YBI will support both Work Together Foundation and Impact Square Inc to deliver a high quality and impactful partnership and programme. Work Together Foundation will focus its efforts on in-depth training and support to build the skills, confidence and adaptability of social entrepreneurs, while Impact Square Inc will provide access to broad-based entrepreneurial resources for SMEs, start-ups and social enterprises through the development of an online platform.

YBI's CEO Anita Tiessen:

"We are delighted to receive continued support from Google.org following the huge success of our COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery programme. We are particularly pleased to be focusing on supporting young entrepreneurs whose businesses will create positive and lasting social impact, and we look forward to reaching as many as possible with our two new delivery partners in Korea."

Harrison Kim, Country Director of Google Korea:

“The aftermath of the pandemic continues to impact many small businesses in Korea, especially those from underserved and underrepresented communities. With continued economic challenges and a demand for new digital skills, we’re incredibly proud to support Youth Business International through grant funding from Google.org to ensure local businesses have the tools and knowledge to recover and succeed in the long term.”

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