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    Saturday, July 25, 2020

    Youth social entrepreneurship can help solve the youth unemployment crisis and deliver on SDGs, according to new UN report

    "Youth in Landscapes workshop - Day 2" by YPARDGlobal is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    Youth social entrepreneurship is key to solving the youth unemployment crisis, according to the United Nation’s 2020 World Youth Report released this month.

    Estimates show that 600 million jobs need to be created globally in the next 15 years to meet youth employment needs, while youth employment figures have dropped in recent years.

    Data from 2018 shows that global youth employment has fallen from 21 to 15 percent since 2000, and a staggering 96.8 percent of all young workers in developing countries are employed in informal labour. 

    “The evidence is quite clear, traditional job creation will not be enough to resolve the long-standing youth unemployment crisis,” says Elliot Harris, UN Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development, during the official launch of the 2020 World Youth Report.

    The report, released by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, shows that youth social entrepreneurship will contribute to the achievement of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goal eight, which calls for ‘decent work and economic growth.’

    Youth social entrepreneurship will also contribute to poverty reduction, education, health, industry, innovation and equality, all of which fall within the SDG framework.

    The report highlights that young people have the ‘creativity, flexibility, positivity, daring and action’ that is needed to develop a successful social enterprise.

    A social enterprise is a business that aims to benefit the community. These enterprises are a hybrid construction of business and charity, which means that they are able to generate enough money to be financially sustainable while maintaining a charitable ethos.

    For example, Tiwale, a social enterprise set up by Ellen Chilemba at age 18, is a for-profit business that helps women in Malawi with grants, loans and entrepreneurship training so they can achieve independence and empowerment.

    “Social entrepreneurship is the only mechanism that brings collaboration, equality and love to the people that they are working [with],” says Albania-based social entrepreneur Pezana Rexha during the launch.

    Young people are often excluded from policy and political decisions, and many turn to social entrepreneurship to make a difference in their community. 

    The report demonstrates that young people must be consulted on policy that can streamline the creation of new social enterprises.

    “The young people don’t just stop at sharing information about an issue that they are faced with, says Harris. “They also offer solutions and describe actions that they are taking already to help to address these issues.” 

    The challenges faced by young social entrepreneurs

    Young people are particularly affected by a lack of start-up funding, considered the ‘most pressing challenge for young social entrepreneurs’ in the UN report.

    Legal restrictions, administrative burdens, unsupportive tax regimes, business registration costs, regulatory changes and complex bureaucratic procedures are also major concerns for young entrepreneurs in any economy.

    But in the least developed countries, young entrepreneurs also face inequality in the global exchange and the role of large corporations fulfilling sustainable development needs. 

    “The UN is not going to be able to go out and take over the job of entrepreneurship,” says Harris, “But it can call attention to regulations that ... make it difficult for a young person to come in and transfer an idea into a viable economic concern.”

    Solutions

    Studies show that there is a strong bond between institutional support and successful social entrepreneurship, and the UN World Youth Report recommends assistance that is tailored to young entrepreneur’s needs and situations.

    There is a desperate need for increased support of young entrepreneurs. Policy that engages with funding-support, skill-building and business development education will help young people translate intent into action. 

    The UN World Youth Report recommends building strong ‘entrepreneurship ecosystems,’ and it gives an outline of what an entrepreneurship ecosystem should have, which includes:

    A solid business regulatory environment
    Entrepreneurial education and training
    Support networks such as peer connections and mentoring systems
    Financial literacy education
    Financial products and services
    Public information and advocacy of youth social entrepreneurship

    The report also highlights the opportunity that young people have to harness new technology. 

    Frontier technologies can be used to tackle social issues with innovation, and young people are generally the earliest adopters of new innovations such as cryptocurrency, robotics, gadgets and online marketing tools.

    A good example is social enterprise Zipline, which helps deliver urgent medical supplies to remote medical centres in Rwanda using drones. 

    A battery-powered Zip drone is loaded with a parcel and flies to areas that would normally take hours to reach, saving medical practitioners precious time.

    Another social enterprise called Tykn helps people obtain a tamper-proof digital credential using blockchain technology.

    Tykn is collaborating with Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help employers issue work permits to Syrian Refugees, ensuring that their digital identity remains safe, accessible and verifiable.

    Both companies are set up by young entrepreneurs, demonstrating the powerful effect that youth social entrepreneurship has.

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