By Adedoyin Adedeji and Ravi Karkara:
Entrepreneurship means different things to different people; some imagine tech geniuses with Silicon Valley startups, while others picture small business owners opening up their shop doors on Main Street. Ultimately, entrepreneurship encompasses these and many other business ventures that share a commitment to turning an idea into a profitable business. Entrepreneurship is much broader than the creation of a new business venture, it is about imagining new ways to solve problems and create added value. Enabling youth to enterprise is an employment strategy that leads to economic self-sufficiency and stability. It is a powerful instrument to create jobs and new value by designing and implementing a new process or creating new products or market. Investing in youth entrepreneurship can advance and find innovative solutions to realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Youth Entrepreneurship has gained prominence in the UN system, the UN Secretary General’s five-year Action Agenda includes focus on youth. On doing so, the Secretary-General called for the development of a United Nations System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) to help bolster the work of UN entities on youth development issues. He also proclaimed on World Youth Skills Day,
“Skills development reduces poverty and better equips young people to find decent jobs. It triggers a process of empowerment and self-esteem that benefits everyone. And it strengthens youth capacity to help address the many challenges facing society, moving us closer to ending poverty hunger, injustice and environmental degradation.”
This shows the urgent importance of involving youths in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Below are examples of how youth entrepreneurship can lead to the achievement the Sustainable Development Goals.
To end poverty everywhere in all its forms, youths need to enterprise, especially with the next youth bulge in Africa and Asia, using all available human resources especially young men and women will lead to creation of more jobs as well as creating added value (creating new work from old work). For instance, Daniel Serres started D.A. Socks because he realised the kind of socks his peers were wearing and figured he could enterprise with it; proving that his immediate environment had enterprise potentials. Given this scenario, creating awareness of entrepreneurial potentials in the society, organising activities and providing resources for young people to become entrepreneurs all play a vital role in achieving the SDGs.
Young men and women entrepreneurs can get involved in their local communities by raising awareness, creating food programmes and involving in volunteer activities to ensure nutrition and food security hence greatly minimising or completely eradicating hunger. Enterprising can also reduce the Dutch diseases in affected countries; a typical example being agricultural enterprises run by youths. Certain programmes in some African countries support this; such as the Youth in Agricultural Trade and Enterprise (YATE) in Kenya which provides business models for agriculture-business. For example, four smart entrepreneurs in the process of solving the tomato problem in Africa.
Young entrepreneurs learn more on health and sanitation and the use of modern methods to develop instructional sessions focused on individual and community health. Consequently, the acquired knowledge can be used to educate the community on health tips, to minimise and possibly avoid an outbreak of diseases. Having this form of knowledge can lead to innovations that will impact the community. For instance; Wang Shirui cofounded Medlinkers at the age of 28. He said, given the shortage of doctors in China, he decided to help existing doctors be more efficient. GlobalMed at Columbia University, a group of young girls that goes to Uganda to engage, educate and empower women on health and wellness.
To achieve education for all (both informal and formal education) young students can create informal classes for their peers who are unable to attend schools; this peer-teaching and learning approach may become a type of school or learning institution in itself, thereby spreading the awareness of the importance of education. The IamtheCODE is an Africa-Led global movement that teaches adolescent girls to code as a way to building their creativity capacity and helping children and youths to realise their potential. These girls then become entrepreneurs and teach other young girls how to code and also develop applications for firms to be effective and efficient.
Mogul is an award-winning technology platform led by young women Tiffany Pham, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, that enables women worldwide to share ideas, solicit advice and access consent based on their personal interest, it’s a hub that reaches out to 18.6 million women per week from 196 countries and 30,470 cities. NextGenMen is a product of three young individuals that came together to educate and conduct men’s health and wellbeing innovation. These are good examples of how empowered young men and women can advance health programmes, and continuously improve training involving not just health safety tips but signs of common and serious diseases (especially the contagious ones) will ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all.
Youths studying health care, environmental science, and other sciences can develop programmes like the University of New Hampshire student initiative that recycled 57,000 pounds of trash into treasure worth $11,750. They also develop educative classes to teach fellow youths on health and environmental care.
To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all:
Youth-Led Sustainable Building Project based on the island of Molokai, they focus developing indigenous educational system by revitalising natural and cultural resources, also to perpetuate traditional knowledge and stewardship while evolving with modern technology. Having youth led projects in indigenous communities is the first step in ensuring sustainable and modern energy for all.
To promote economic growth, there needs to be a creation of jobs: Stefanie Botelho founder of Fitzroy Toys in 2014 crafted finger puppets out of felt, glitter, and glue, and sold them to her classmates when she was in fourth grade and now is creating employment via enterprising. The International Campaign for Youth Employment Decade is a public-private initiative launched in June 2013, from the civil society, with an objective to generate an international movement of reflection, thought, debate and action, that provides ideas, content and solutions for the unemployment situation or the situation of no decent employment that millions of youths are experiencing in hundreds of places across the world.
1M1B is another good initiative that focuses on innovation frameworks aimed at enhancing employment, problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, teamwork and effective communications skills. The innovation camp is conducted face to face over a period of three to five days on site and helps participants first identify a purpose and then solve problems that are important to their immediate environment and society.
Infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation: Bhumiputra Architecture owned by Alok Shetty is focused on improving the quality of life in the slums. After returning to India in 2012, he worked with Bangalore residents to overhaul their homes. His designs were unusual, made from recycled and readily available materials and built with a jack that could prop up the house to avoid floods and rat infestations. Some 50 homes were built for 200 people. Now, Shetty is onto his next project: building 600 homes for 2,400 people in the city of Belgaum.
Inequality – Reduce inequality within and among countries: Twenty-eight-year-old Maddie Bradshaw founded M3 Girls Design. She designs and sells thousands of snap caps, colourful bottle caps that can be worn as charms and necklaces, a clear example of youth enterprising as a way for more young entrepreneurs to reduce inequality among countries.
Habitation – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable: 31-year-old Simbarashe Mhuriro founded Oxygen Africa in 2009 as an investment advisory company to help facilitate foreign investors in Zimbabwe. In 2013, Oxygen Africa partnered with Swiss-based Meeco Group, a renewable energy company, to establish Oursun Energy Zimbabwe – a joint venture Independent Power Producer that specialises in the development, building, owning, and operating of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) energy projects in Zimbabwe; this project has certainly contributed to the city and the country being safer, given the importance of energy and power in the society.
Consumption – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns: An example found in ‘The Agricpreneur‘ – a new breed of young entrepreneurs combining their love of farming and agriculture with acquired professional business approach. Donald Byamugisha focuses on sustainable consumption and production patterns using agriculture and farming.
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts: Raquel Rosenberg from Brazil uses dance to make climate change policy Raquel knows how to make climate policy interesting for young people. Frustration with the lack of progress on climate change prompted Raquel to start her own civil society organisation Engajamundo to inform, empower and engage Brazilian youth in international climate, social development, and gender forums. She has helped to bring Brazil’s flash mob trend to the UN climate negotiations.
Marine-ecosystems – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development: The business times records Brayden Kelley who won a local competition for young entrepreneurs in pitching his product and qualified for a national event but also hope to peddle some more in tackling a potentially lucrative market for fishing gear and look for better ways to reduce over fishing and pollution of water, a typical example of ways to conserve the ecosystem.
Ecosystems – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss: Charles Batte founded Tree Adoption Uganda (TAU) to help young entrepreneurs set up businesses. Charles got a young entrepreneur award from Unilever because of his focus on tackling unemployment and deforestation. TAU aims to empower 150 women and 50 men enabling them to start their own business, however, planting 200 trees in the communities.
Institutions – Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all level: Timothy Hwang is 23 years of age. He is the co-founder of FiscalNote, they analyse data gleaned from state statutes and Congressional regulations to court rulings to discern likely outcomes for pending legislation and rulings. He and his two fellow co-founders pooled together $25,000 and started FiscalNote from a motel.
Sustainability – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development: Youth Challenge International is a youth-led initiative that patterns with local communities to encourage youth innovation that in turn drives positive change and develop creative, market-ready solutions that catapult youth around the world to succeed and prosper. Youth Ki Awaaz is an Indian English-language social enterprise blog founded in 2008. An emerging online news and views platform, and a pioneer in collaborative journalism, it has emerged as one of India’s most read youth opinion websites.