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Five ways to support young entrepreneurs and their businesses during the COVID-19 crisis

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With entire countries in lockdown, the impact of COVID-19 on economies and businesses will be significant and long-lasting. According to a recent assessment by the ILO, almost 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide as a result of the pandemic. Micro and small businesses, with limited savings and access to financing, will be hit particularly hard.

At Youth Business International (YBI) we are working tirelessly with our members around the world to ensure young entrepreneurs have the support they need to manage the current crisis. The scale of the challenge means that a collective effort is required, bringing together actors across the entrepreneurship ecosystem. We can all play our part, here are five ways:

  1. Are you an enterprise support organisation? Reassess needs and adapt your services. Many YBI members have shifted services online. In Israel Keren Shemesh has developed an online platform connecting entrepreneurs and expert mentors in crisis management and in Sweden NyföretagarCentrum is piloting a ‘virtual fair’ connecting entrepreneurs across the country. In France Adie has extended deadlines for loan repayments and released one million euros to finance an emergency cash credit facility.
  2. Are you a funder or investor? Keep the cash going and agree realistic targets. These early months will be critical to the survival of many small businesses and it is vital that funding continues – even in the face of broader concerns about market performance. Open discussion between funders and investors and (prospective) grantees and clients on the rapidly changing situation and required response will be critical, enabling setting and revision of realistic targets now and over the months to come.
  3. Are you a policy maker? Deliver targeted support that addresses specific needs of young entrepreneurs. From cash grants and loan schemes to tax payment extensions and temporary unemployment measures, many governments around the world are introducing measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on small businesses. However, these support packages must address the specific needs of young entrepreneurs, who are particularly vulnerable during economic downturn.
  4. Are you a consumer? Buy products and services from small businesses where possible. Whether it’s groceries or classes, you can often choose to buy directly from young entrepreneurs in your community. For example, SOMO, one of YBI’s members in Kenya, has launched a new campaign #SupportSmallBusinesses to encourage people to buy products from the small, local businesses which drive Kenya’s economy – including marketing a new care package of essential supplies that can be bought or donated.
  5. Are you a young entrepreneur? Take stock and reach out for support. Young entrepreneurs are grappling with multiple challenges – from ensuring the safety of employees to managing cashflow to revisiting business models and identifying new market opportunities. Reaching out to peer networks and support organisations is critical. Many of YBI’s members have developed new resources, such as FATE Foundation’s guide for small businesses in Nigeria. 

With the situation changing so rapidly there is much to learn – across our network we will generate and share insights as we support young entrepreneurs through the current crisis. Read more about the different initiatives we have launched to support entrepreneurs during the COVID-19 crisis.

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