This week, global business leaders are coming together in Davos for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) to discuss pressing challenges and opportunities in the global economy. One of the key questions this year is: How can government, business, and civil society collaboratively construct a new economic framework that not only averts a decade of low growth but places people at the forefront of a more prosperous trajectory? Youth Business International (YBI), the only global organisation dedicated to youth entrepreneurship, knows the answer to this question lies in part with young entrepreneurs.
Across our global network, we see young entrepreneurs emerge as leaders of positive change within their communities, acting as catalysts for economic growth while also addressing pressing environmental and social challenges. They have the potential to redefine the very fabric of our economy, ensuring that prosperity is not only measured in economic terms but also in the well-being of our societies and the health of our planet.
Young entrepreneurs truly have the potential to build a more equitable and sustainable economic future for us all. Research commissioned by YBI in 2022 found that in the UK alone, entrepreneurs under 35 years old were twice as likely to say their business’s primary aim is to solve a social or environmental problem, compared to entrepreneurs over 35. They were also almost twice as likely to say they have an important role in helping employees live fulfilling lives outside of work, even if that comes at the expense of their work life. This approach to business that values the protection of people and the planet is also reflected in the stories of other young entrepreneurs supported by our global network spanning 45 countries.
However, systemic barriers remain in place that exclude many young people from entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial gender gap in particular means that we are missing out on the unique perspectives, skills, and potential of millions of young female entrepreneurs. Women and girls make up half of the world’s population, yet they only contribute to about 37 per cent of the global GDP and only one in three businesses globally is owned by women. It’s encouraging that several sessions at the WEF are addressing the systemic barriers causing these economic gender gaps and issues facing other marginalised groups, but meaningful change comes from action, not rhetoric.
Prioritising and investing in inclusive entrepreneurship support can see the solutions for the challenges realised with the next generation. YBI’s expert support focusses on helping young people develop personal and business skills, improve their financial health and together with our members we ensure there is specialist provision for companies addressing green and social challenges.
The path to a more prosperous and sustainable economic future lies in increased investment in inclusive youth entrepreneurship. Governments, businesses, and civil society must recognise the transformative power of young entrepreneurs and actively support initiatives that break down barriers, foster inclusivity, and prioritise the creation of green and social jobs. Only through a collaborative and intentional effort can we build an economic framework where growth is not merely measured in numbers but in the empowerment and well-being of our communities. The time is now to invest in the leaders of tomorrow who will shape a future that is prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable.