By Gururaj Rao:
Changes in ideologies, ever-increasing economic liberalization, new and innovative technologies, and growing international interdependence and globalization have been the various key factors responsible for the global growth of business and the market sector over the past few decades. Why has this growth become possible? The answer to this question lies hidden in the fact that growth has been driven by the belief of many that the market and social entrepreneurs can provide solutions more readily to problems such as poverty and unemployment, to name a few, than the government. Obviously, people are starting to believe that business can help address seemingly intractable social problems and this is why global growths in business have been observed.
Another alarming prediction of critics that business-led development would increase the gap between a few winners and many losers is coming true. Effective and innovative ways for business to become engaged in youth employment and livelihood issues are gradually emerging. Since recent years, the pace of experimentation and development of new approaches has grown quickly in response to globalization, growth in the importance of the business sector and mainly due to reframing of many youth employment and livelihood problems as opportunities. One of the principal motivations for engaging youth in business is philanthropic perspective based in empowering the youth i.e. engaging them in something useful. Another perspective is that it is our responsibility to give back something to the society and countrymen because of what they have done to make us what we are i.e. cultural norms of obligations and expectations. Thinking from the corporate point of view, business adopts a broader understanding at the grass root levels and appropriate actions can influence social structures enabling positive business environment and helps address human resource, market and product development which of course is the mutual gain perspective.
Successful business engagement is based on the understanding that only one or some of these perspectives fits well with particular business leaders and particular businesses.
Youth employment and livelihood initiatives which prioritize business engagement must try to ensure that business plays a key leadership role and that business alone can take the role of an initiator, rather than waiting for an outsider to make some proposal or provide opportunities. On the contrary, business cannot accomplish all the work by itself. The government and civil society in play a critical role in the success of such initiatives. The government creates the proper environment and provides proper encouragement to such entrepreneurs; by providing modest funding, creating new policies which enable the youth and business to work together in new ways and infrastructural support through roads as well as good education systems. The role of the civil society is developed through business member non-profit organizations and also through non-governmental organizations that work together enabling youth development. Key business roles include providing jobs and work opportunities, making the provisions for providing expertise to develop new entrepreneurs, advocating new approaches and last but not the least, financing. Business-government-civil society interactions can be particularly powerful ways to generate creativity, which is the hallmark of success, when diverse points of view are mutually integrated into innovative strategies.
Most of these innovative strategies will be in their early stages of development and are bound to meet with failure. Successful strategies must be developed and scaled up through expansion, adaptation, and replication. Most of the times, what is needed is just modest expert and financial support which should be based on a demand-driven approach where a group of organizations and individuals committed to working together are present.
The scope and potential in today’s world for business engagement and impact on youth employment and livelihood issues has far reaching consequences and is highly substantial. This presents before us all a very optimistic picture for the future of business engagement in youth employment.
Image courtesy: http://ordsunshinepumpers.wordpress.com/2009/01/27/anonymous-donor-gives-1650-for-youth-entrepreneurship/