The adoption of Sustainable Development Goals: Agenda 2030 has globally generated momentum in working towards inclusive development for a sustainable tomorrow. Across the spectrum, extending from the public to the private sector, conversations centered on the 5Ps – people, prosperity, peace, partnership and planet that form the foundations of the 17 Goals are in focus to create impact.
These goals include 169 defined targets cutting across sectors to achieve zero poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy, decent work and economic growth; among others.
An important part of this global vision is the role of youth for realization of these goals. An UNDP report in 2017, Youth as Partners for the Implementation of the SDGs, estimated that over one third of the 169 SDG targets highlight the role of young people and the importance of their empowerment, participation, and well-being. 20 targets across six SDGs are strongly focused on youth: Zero Hunger, Quality Education, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Reduced Inequalities, and Climate Action. Further, the YouthSpeak global survey of 180,000 young people showed 68% believe the world will be a better place by 2030.
With changing aspirations, young people are optimistic and increasingly willing to come forward and contribute to social transformation. Young minds in governance, entrepreneurship, investing circles, corporate world understand the need to proactively engage and involve themselves with the accomplishment of this ambitious agenda. A recent report by Ernst and Young,”Sustainable investing – the millennial investor”, suggests that the demand for sustainable investments is being driven, in part, by millennials who prefer to invest in alignment with personal values. At the same time, responsible global citizenship has extended into business solutions that are aimed at tackling development challenges.
Social entrepreneurship among the youth is also seeing a powerful positive trend. Current demographic trends, coupled with the challenge of unemployment in the traditional job market, are pushing the youth to explore alternative avenues and tap into their entrepreneurial skills. There is a renewed commitment to influence impact and a willingness to take risks. Harnessing this energy, young entrepreneurs are looking to balance and optimize the profit and purpose equation.
Several initiatives globally, and in India are encouraging young minds to ideate and innovate. Business federations, large corporations, accelerators, incubators, management schools and governments are some key stakeholders in this ecosystem, who through their multiple programs are pushing for cutting edge business solutions. The NITI Ayog’s Atal Tinkering Labs, Villgro’s iPitch, TATA Social Enterprise challenge are some notable ones to name a few. State governments across the country are also encouraging innovation with dedicated support to such entrepreneurs.
Whether it is competitions, mentorship programs, or awards – the recognition that there is a need to reinvent the wheel by endorsing innovative thinking is widely accepted. It is at the heart of all such initiatives that celebrate and support businesses contributing to driving social change.
While in recent years, there has been an enormous upsurge in using business to create social impact, there also remain many stories of failed attempts. This also needs to be addressed. It necessitates a deepening of the discourse around youth entrepreneurship to understand what can be done to make these ideas, innovations and solutions sustainable and viable. It is imperative to approach the problem holistically, and see to it that the stories of impact are not short term successes riding the wave. An ecosystem facilitating good mentorship, upskilling, collateral specialized support services is fundamental to sustainable business building. It is only through such sustainability that long lasting impact is created that shall eventually lead to the accomplishment of the 17 SDG Goals set out.
The Sankalp Global Summit, as one of India’s largest inclusive development and impact investing platforms, recognizes that the ecosystem approach lies at the core of celebrating entrepreneurship. It aims to build consensus and facilitate dialogue with some of the most relevant stakeholders for solving emerging challenges across high impact sectors.
The Sankalp Awards, as a part of the Summit convening seeks to support, engage, and recognize high potential enterprises tackling development challenges. The program is designed to support emerging social enterprises by strengthening their business strategies, providing fund raising opportunities and access to a global network of investors
Established as one of India’s most prestigious social enterprise awards, since 2009, Sankalp Awards has recognized more than 1500 social enterprises, facilitated 500 + mentoring connections and raised more than USD $250 million equity investment.
Written by Trina Roy. Trina is an Associate at Intellecap Advisory Limited.