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Celebrating innovation across the YBI network

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In today’s fast changing world, entrepreneurs that want to stay competitive must constantly innovate their products and services. The same is true for the organisations supporting them. 

Fostering innovation is a key focus for YBI. At our recent Global Summit, members presented examples of the innovative ways they are evolving their support for young entrepreneurs. From mobile mentoring in India to coding hackathons in Turkey - there was much to learn from and celebrate. Here are some of the highlights.

Building skills starts early

A number of our members are exploring ways to inspire young people to explore entrepreneurship and build skills at an early age.

In Turkey, YBI member Habitat worked in partnership with Vodafone to train young children in basic coding skills and older children in electronics, three-dimensional modeling, project creation and prototyping. As part of Coders of tomorrow, children participated in hackathon competitions, identifying problems and proposing solutions. Winning ideas were taken into development. This included an automated food dispenser for stray animals positioned on the street and activated via Twitter using the hashtag  #BuMamaBenden. The Twitter campaign rapidly went viral, becoming Turkey’s most successful ever.

In the Netherlands, YBI member Qredits is supporting schools to introduce entrepreneurship through their regular lessons. Be your own boss is an interactive programme which helps students to develop entrepreneurial skills through lectures, mentoring and e-learning. A special Student Loan Product is available for students who complete the programme with a good business idea and successful pitch. So far, the programme has been completed by over 5,000 students in more than 85 schools across the country.

With projects in Colombia and Bolivia, YBI member Manq'a is driving a movement of cooking schools that trains vulnerable unemployed young people to become chefs. These schools specialise in cooking with locally produced ingredients which boosts market demand for local farm products and promotes healthy eating habits. Their sustainable business model includes restaurants, catering and gastro-tourism – a truly holistic model.

Taking innovations to scale

Innovation often starts by addressing a local need but for real impact there must be potential for scale through adapting to different contexts - members highlighted the challenges and opportunities of doing just this. 

In Europe every year thousands of jobs are lost due to inefficiencies in the process of transferring businesses between owners. In Spain, Autooccupació has developed Reempresa to tackle this issue. Reempresa is a marketplace for small and medium enterprises where expert advisors connect business owners developing a succession plan to entrepreneurs interested in running a small business. Buyers and sellers can find advice and training. Reempresa has scaled over recent years. To date it has facilitated over 2,100 transfers, generated over €96 million and saved over 7,000 jobs. Read more about the programme here.

In Chile, YBI member Acción Emprendedora is leveraging technology to scale their services. Their digital platforms offer a range of support for young entrepreneurs, from mentoring to e-learning, access to funding and access to markets. Municipalities can access these services through a subscription model which offers highly customised platforms to support local government to implement their economic development strategies.

Navigating barriers to access 

Technology can be a great enabler of innovation, however a number of members highlighted that barriers to access still persist and must be carefully navigated. 

In India, YBI member Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust has tested and developed a mobile mentor clinic model to reach entrepreneurs in remote locations who often have very limited access to technology. Mentors travel in a van to different villages in rural India, where they each support eight to ten entrepreneurs over two years. Visiting entrepreneurs in their own village has proved to be a much more effective solution than remote mentoring services.

Youth Business Mongolia also tested remote mentoring to reach young entrepreneurs in sparsely populated rural areas. However, they found that it didn’t build the personal connections required for successful mentoring. Recognising this, they shifted to a new model based on building and supporting a network of local and regional mentors. This has proved much more successful. Read more about their story here.

This snapshot highlights the great potential for innovation across our global network. We look forward to continuing to support members to develop, test and scale new ways of working with young entrepreneurs, including through this year’s Innovation Challenge.  

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