Business Magazine

How To Support Youth Entrepreneurship

Posted on the 17 April 2013 by Center For International Private Enterprise @CIPEglobal


Around the world, youth unemployment represents a significant challenge to countries’ economic and social prosperity. According to the World Economic Forum, youth comprise 40 percent of the world’s unemployed. Globally, the youth unemployment rate is more than double that of adult unemployment: 12.6 percent for youth compared to 4.5 percent for adults. On a personal level, the story of Mohammed Bouazizi—the Tunisian fruit vendor whose tragic death sparked the Arab spring—continues to resonate with people around the world struggling to find economic opportunity.

Many factors contribute to the challenging economic landscape confronting young jobseekers, including lack of quality education, the global economic crisis, resource shortages, and more. One underlying factor, however, is that the public sector—traditionally a primary engine of employment in many countries—is unable to keep up with demand. Instead, young people endure chronic unemployment or underemployment, often trapped in temporary or low-productivity jobs.

One important solution to these complex issues is to build young people’s entrepreneurial capacity. Entrepreneurship provides much needed alternatives for those in need of work, while also reinvigorating countries’ economies through job creation. Entrepreneurship can lead young people to become more active members of their communities, invested in creating a better and more innovative environment for their business.

An increasing number of organizations around the world are engaging in youth entrepreneurship, from large foundations like the Kauffman Foundation, which runs a program that brings aspiring entrepreneurs from around the world to the United States, to private sector companies like Caterpillar, which partners with non-profits to support youth-led small businesses in India and Indonesia. While entrepreneurial support from all types of organizations contributes to building a better entrepreneurship ecosystem, support from local chambers of commerce and business associations can be particularly meaningful.

Chambers of commerce and business associations are uniquely positioned to support entrepreneurship. By working closely between governments looking to create economic growth and the private sector desire to develop a new generation of employees, chambers and associations are able advocate for the reforms necessary to encourage job creation and support a healthier business environment for all.

Through youth entrepreneurship programs, chambers and associations can further their membership base, support the business community, and foster the next generation of business leaders and democratic stakeholders. Chamber- and association-led youth entrepreneurship programs provide the private sector a way to invest in economic sustainability, youth capacity development, and a new generation of entrepreneurs. They help train youth to more easily access the workforce, whether by starting a new business or joining the existing business community. And they also serve as a way for chambers and business associations to engage in corporate citizenship.

To read more about how chambers of commerce and business associations can support youth in your community, download a copy of the newly released Guide to Youth Entrepreneurship Programs for Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations.

Molly Brister is a Program Assistant for Global Programs at CIPE.

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