Discussion
20 May - 9 Jun 2021

Youth Economic Empowerment (Keeping People out of Poverty)

SparkBlue • 12 April 2021

Welcome to discussion room 1: Youth skills development, employment and entrepreneurship (keeping people out of poverty)!

Poverty is multidimensional and encompasses much more than income, including different deprivations people face in different aspects of their lives. Through the ‘keeping people out of poverty’ set of reflections papers, the IEO explores what worked regarding UNDP’s response in select areas.


This is a space to further discuss the lessons identified, their applicability to different settings and to garner insights for upcoming thematic evaluations. The first discussion is on youth skills development, employment and entrepreneurship.

Developing Youth Skills

  1. Have you come across similar lessons in your work on youth economic empowerment? Do you want to share any other lessons learnt from UNDP support in this area? 
  2. What are the main barriers to youth economic empowerment that UNDP is trying to address?
  3. To what extent have youth been involved in planning of UNDP youth economic empowerment programmes? How can UNDP make sure that the needs of the most vulnerable are accounted for?
  4. How has UNDP worked with the with private sector and other stakeholders on job creation and policies that promote youth economic empowerment?
  5. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of work and youth employment perspective around the globe. How has UNDP supported the emerging livelihood needs of youth?
  6. How can we at UNDP overcome the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects to promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable results?

 

Comments (31)

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

Welcome everyone! My name is Xiaoling. I'm from the Independent Evaluation Office at UNDP HQ and I will be one of the moderators of this consultation. We really appreciate your participation and insights to enrich the understanding of UNDP’s role in youth economic empowerment. This is also the space where we can continue our conversations from the Reflection Webinar.

We know that across countries, a sizable share of young people are still prevented from accessing education and job opportunities, with potential rippling effects on their current and future wellbeing, economic empowerment, and livelihood perspectives, thus reinforcing inequality patterns. One in six youth had to stop work since the onset of the pandemic. Young workers are likely to be employed in highly affected occupations, such as support, services and sales-related work, making them more vulnerable to the economic consequences of COVID-19.

In this context, how can UNDP contribute to enhancing youth economic empowerment and creating an enabling environment for poverty reduction and livelihood improvement?

More specifically, the questions that we would kindly invite you to discuss are the following:

  1. Have you come across similar lessons in your work on youth economic empowerment? Do you want to share any other lessons learnt from UNDP support in this area? 
  2. What are the main barriers to youth economic empowerment that UNDP is trying to address?
  3. To what extent have youth been involved in planning of UNDP youth economic empowerment programmes? How can UNDP make sure that the needs of the most vulnerable are accounted for?
  4. How has UNDP worked with the with private sector and other stakeholders on job creation and policies that promote youth economic empowerment?
  5. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of work and youth employment perspective around the globe. How has UNDP supported the emerging livelihood needs of youth?
  6. How can we at UNDP overcome the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects to promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable results?

Please note that the consultation will also inform the ongoing IEO Thematic Evaluation on UNDP Support to Youth Economic Empowerment, which will be present to the Executive Board in 2022. The consultation here will start from today and be open for the next two weeks (till June 9, 2021).

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Rishi Chakraborty

The economic empowerment of youth is a multifaceted and cross-cutting issue that forms the backbone of sustainable and intergenerational development. From reducing poverty and inequality, ensuring quality education and decent job prospects, as well as tackling climate change, the value of youth economic empowerment impacts the achievement of all SDGs. As a result, I will highlight some notable examples from UNDP initiatives that help facilitate the economic empowerment of youth and augment their role as vehicles of change in their local communities.

            The Youth Co:Lab, which was launched by UNDP and the Citi Foundation in 2017, aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Youth Co:Lab has been implemented in 25 countries and territories across Asia-Pacific. In addition to directly supporting youth entrepreneurship, Youth Co:Lab works closely with multiple stakeholders across the region, including governments, civil society, and the private sector, to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem and policy environment to better enable young people to take the lead on new solutions that will help meet the SDGs. For instance, its research and publications page includes insights on diverse topics from Addressing Gender Barriers to Entrepreneurship and Leadership among Girls and Women in South East Asia to Young Entrepreneurs Engaging in the Digital Economy: The Next Generation. Youth:Co Lab startups are also at the forefront of cross-cutting development challenges, such as climate change, gender equality, mental health, COVID-19 recovery, as well as collaborating with indigenous communities and people with disabilities to develop integrated solutions that leave no one behind.

            Chapter 4 of the Youth Solutions Report 2020, 'Solutions from Young Social Entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific to the COVID-19 Pandemic', has been contributed by the Youth Co:Lab and it showcases the innovative responses from a wide range of young social entrepreneurs in Youth Co:Lab’s network in Asia-Pacific to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some examples highlighted in the report include:

  • Himalayan Innovations is a social enterprise that provides affordable solar energy in remote areas of Nepal. Currently, Himalayan Innovations is manufacturing 31,000 face shields using 3D printers. In addition, Himalayan Innovations is making its solar generators available to rural health facilities to ensure uninterrupted power supply. 
  • iFarmer in Bangladesh is an agri-fintech startup that has developed an innovative online platform that enables anyone in the world to invest in farming and livestock. Since the crisis hit and supply chains broke down, iFarmer started a B2B supply of vegetables to e-commerce platforms in Dhaka, so that farmer families can sell their produce at a fair price and not remain reliant on relief. 
  • Foodmario is an award-winning platform from Nepal that connects home cooks with customers. During COVID-19, Foodmario developed FoodPlus by Foodmario, to help households in Kathmandu with their daily needs by offering a grocery delivery service. 
  • Kepul is a waste management company that digitizes waste collection and recycling processes in Indonesia. To support individuals who have lost their livelihoods due to COVID-19, Kepul created a bank where people could exchange plastic waste in order to support access to daily basic needs. 
  • DOCHAA produces footwear that celebrates and conserves traditional Nepali art and artisanship. DOCHAA has now set up their own cloth masks manufacturing unit in Thimni where it is working with rural women’s groups. 
  • Shop.141 is a tech-based social enterprise in Indonesia that offers a platform to provide nutrition rehabilitation to children suffering from stunting and parallel support for their caregivers. They have leveraged their trusted position on health with the community they serve to share public health information on COVID-19 and to work in hospitals to support families impacted by the virus. 
  • DeafTawk has empowered over 9,000 deaf people in Pakistan through quality online sign language interpretation. During the crisis, DeafTawk is providing sign language interpretation services available 24/7 to enable deaf people to navigate hospitals and embassies. 

In addition, several initiatives of UNDP’s Accelerator Labs prioritize youth economic empowerment across diverse countries and territories. In 2020, UNDP Ethiopia, through its Goh Accelerator lab, partnered with ICE Addis, a leading innovation lab in Ethiopia, to provide a platform for university students from across Ethiopia to come together for a bootcamp and brainstorm on possible solutions to tackle the issue of youth unemployment. The Goh Lab Team is equipping the youth with different support packages - from access to finance to market linkages, from startup kits to growth strategies, and from business plans to sound business models to help them establish and grow their businesses. Similarly, in Cambodia, the UNDP Accelerator Lab is preparing the youth for automation and the 4th industrial revolution through mobilizing resources and expertise with the private sector to foster an environment that enables the youth to access knowledge and employment in tech and other high-skilled jobs.

In Eswatini, the Accelerator Lab has established an Entrepreneurship Policy Lab that brings together entrepreneurs, policymakers, financiers, service-providers and development partners to co-design and prototype interventions that would promote the establishment and scaling up of successful Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). In Nepal, UNDP’s Accelerator Lab has partnered with Kathmandu Municipal Corporation to create the Kathmandu Business Hub (K-Hub) that provides technical assistance to young entrepreneurs through incubation facilities, business creation and registration services, access to legal and regulatory information services, knowledge transfer and promotional opportunities, co-working space services, linking start-ups to investors, and a role in coordinating efforts towards the growth of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kathmandu. In Iraq, the UNDP Accelerator Lab team is exploring blended learning approaches through digitalization to foster effective online education for the youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. In Pakistan, UNDP’s Innovation Portfolio and the Youth Employment Programme partnered with DEMO (an impact-focused enterprise) to organize entrepreneurship bootcamps for young social entrepreneurs, focused on addressing critical development challenges embodied by the SDGs. The bootcamps have supported 41 social ventures, worked with 25 local partners, reached 1.2 million people on social media, and collaborated with 100 Pakistani changemakers at the bootcamp summit.

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

Thank you Rishi Chakraborty! Really interesting to learn about these youth innovation initiatives. I'm wondering ...  have there been any lessons learned from them in light of promoting youth economic empowerment? 

Maria Stage Moderator

Thank you for this contribution, Rishi Chakraborty ! The examples from Youth Co:Lab and Accelerator Labs are showing the importance of partnerships with youth for social innovation towards locally-led solutions to complex development challenges, also in context of crisis. Furthermore, the examples are highlighting the co-creation of policy initiatives between youth, decision-makers, stakeholders and other partners. From my perspective, this is indicating the importance of the promotion of safe, gender-responsive and enabling spaces for youth and the prioritization and nurturing of networks with young people. Considering these examples, how do you, Rishi, think UNDP can further improve our support towards increasing the sustainability of results? Thank you!

Nathalie Bouche Moderator

Dear all, delighted to moderate this consultation.

Dear Rishi, fantastic kick-off contribution!

In a context where youth employment opportunities are increasingly limited, the promotion of youth entrepreneurship, including social entrepreneurship is indeed and should remain an important focus area for UNDP country offices around the globe and in various country contexts. Your contribution highlights the breath of UNDP’s on-going support to the creation of enabling ecosystems for youth entrepreneurship, including through its network of Accelerator labs, and how youth entrepreneurs can be empowered to be become agents of change and support inclusive and green recovery processes in the context of COVID-19 and the SDGs.

As part of this consultation, it would be great to get your and colleagues’ additional insights on these experiences.

Whilst support to youth entrepreneurship (like any other support) needs to be ‘context specific’,  do we have for instance an idea of the ‘support packages’ (training, mentoring, coaching, financial and business development support) as well as partnerships that are most effective/conducive to sustainable ventures?

How do we balance efforts to address structural, including policy barriers to youth entrepreneurship with efforts to address more behavioral barriers (e.g risk aversion, cultural factors, social/family pressures, lack of confidence) that may confront young people, and in particularly young women and marginalized youth in becoming successful entrepreneurs?

Are there specific lessons learned from our support to youth entrepreneurship, and in particular social entrepreneurship in fragile/crisis affected contexts?  Are issues such as risk-sensitive approach to programming of special significance?

Thanks in advance for your contributions!

Maria Stage Moderator

Dear Nathalie, these are interesting questions!

As for training and support packages, it would be interesting to learn from the experience of regional programmes Qamer Uddin Jatoi Savinda Ranathunga Beniam Gebrezghi Linda Haddad Pauline Deneufbourg 

Some relevant resources on youth employment in crisis and conflict affected societies are the case studies on youth employment in fragile situations; the Youth, Peace and Security Programming Handbook has a chapter on strategic priorities and Theories of Change with examples of considerations for youth economic empowerment projects; and the report on COVID-19: working with and for young people in humanitarian action has some insights on economic impact. 

Thank you!

Rita Sciarra Moderator

Dear all, welcome to this exciting discussion. I will be one of the moderator of the group! Big thanks for all your contributions. Best. R

Anna Guerraggio

Thanks so much for your insights, @Rishi Chakraborty, and the many examples of support to entrepreneurial activities. I wonder if there is any study on the success of these initiatives in the medium-long term?

Do you also have any data about participation, and who is mostly involved? It almost seems there are two levels of interventions when it's about youth economic empowerment, and the activities by the Lab mostly function with youth that have already had a certain exposure to education and technology. What do you think?  

Ricardo Isea

The COVID-19 shock has produced long-lasting effects on the lives and livelihoods of young people globally. In the area of education, for instance, lockdown measures and the closing of schools, universities, and training spaces have left millions without access to learning opportunities. School closures have affected at least 1.4 billion children and youth in 147 countries — 86 percent of the world’s student population (UNDP 2020). According to a study published by the International Labour Organization (ILO 2020), “65 percent of young people reported having learned less since the beginning of the pandemic because of the transition from classroom to online and distance learning during lockdown”. For youth living in low-income countries, who often lack access to the internet, the results have been particularly adverse: while 65 percent of youth in high-income countries received classes through video lectures, only 18 percent of young people in low-income countries managed to keep up with their education activities (ILO 2020). Within countries, widening digital gaps between youth groups – for example, between men and women, urban and rural, and rich and poor – have exacerbated inequalities in education but also in employability and livelihood opportunities.

Before this scenario, bridging the digital divide and ensuring sustained access to digital tools and virtual training and learning programs for all must be a top priority in any youth economic empowerment strategy. In Zimbabwe, UNDP has provided IT equipment and software to facilitate the transition of public education institutions to a virtual operating environment as part of the “Youth Connekt” initiative – which seeks to support youth in skills development, enterprise, career guidance, and networks, empowering them to actively contribute to COVID-19 socioeconomic recovery. In Pakistan, UNDP is working with partners to provide professional online and offline training to thousands of young people in digital marketing and supply chain management. The program includes the provision of internet dongles to all trainees to ensure participation for all. In Georgia, UNDP is helping rural youth find new education opportunities and develop new skills through access to digital technologies and e-learning modules.

At the same time, interrupted education combined with family stress, risk of domestic violence, social isolation, and uncertainty is having huge effects on youth’s mental health, particularly young women. A recent survey by the ILO finds that 1 in 2 young people aged 18-29 are possibly subject to anxiety or depression, while an additional 17 percent are probably affected by it (ILO 2020). Young people whose education or work has been disrupted are almost twice as likely to be affected by anxiety or depression than those who have continued employed or attending classes. On that front, UNDP has backed several initiatives aimed at boosting mental wellbeing among youth. One example is Moner Bondhu (Bangladesh), a platform that provides psychological support via a helpline number, workshops, and counseling services; since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has offered 24/7 free video and tele-counseling services to people -including youth- across the country (SDSN 2020).

The effectiveness of these responses, however, will largely depend on the extent to which the voices of young people themselves are heard and included in policy design and implementation. In that sense, UNDP should continue leading the development of cutting-edge, innovative frameworks and platforms to promote youth engagement and leadership to address the world’s most pressing issues. Initiatives such as the COVID-19 design challenge, which aims to encourage innovative ideas and solutions from Ethiopian youth on COVID-19 response and recovery, should be leveraged, expanded, and escalated.

Rita Sciarra Moderator

Thank you so much Ricardo for this contribution. Indeed the situation is very worrying, especially because all the challenges that you are describing could have a huge impact in terms of intergenerational poverty. The interrupted education combined with family stress of today, can have a real impact on this young population and their families in 5/10/15 years, when they will be less competitive in the job market if this gap is not filled. We need to fill the gap, support policies that can take into consideration all those who are and will lagging behind today because of digital and socio-economic inequalities of today.This means taking into account the ones who are structural excluded, and shape ad hoc policies for them with special attention to girls (who maybe will never get back to school) or young people living in rural areas with a tremendous lack of access to basic needs. Looking forwards to listen to example and experiences of the colleagues, to understand how collectively we can support better this effort towards an inclusive economic recovery for young people. 

Maria Stage Moderator

Thank you for this insightful contribution Ricardo Isea , bringing together youth employment, the digital divide, access to quality education and mental health and wellbeing. I think this also relates to the findings of the HDR2019 on how inequalities accumulate through life and persist across generations and how the climate crisis is further exacerbating existing inequalities, which impact the lives of young people and their agency. Which again, is exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.

I agree with you that the meaningful engagement of young people is critical for the effectiveness of projects. Young people also have the right to participate, and they should be meaningfully engaged throughout the programme cycle, from design to evaluation. From your experience, how do you think UNDP can better promote a whole-of-society approach to tackle inequalities and what are main barriers to the promotion of meaningful youth engagement in projects?

Samantha Happ

Thanks very much to the moderators and to IEO for this opportunity to participate!

The Reflections Paper on Youth Economic Empowerment highlights Lesson 7:"Entrepreneurship is not a silver bullet for youth unemployment." While we know that economic empowerment (for any demographic!) is a complex system of enabling factors, it's important to consider the unique barriers to economic empowerment and entrepreneurship that young people face, and remember that entrepreneurship alone (or even predominantly) is not the solution to youth unemployment. And, perhaps troublingly, it is the inability to find gainful employment that pushes young people to take up self-employment and entrepreneurship (UNDP Study on Informality and Social Protections).

Conversations with colleagues in UNDP Country Offices have recognized the immense opportunity that economic empowerment for young people holds to transform economies and promote social inclusion and cohesion in the decades to come - however, if the opportunity is neglected (especially in the wake of COVID-19), we'll be responding to unemployment, underutilized talent, and effects of a fragmented society for years to come. In countries making the transition from agrarian-based economies to service industries, emphasis and programming (whether in education, or in targeted national outreach schemes) should be placed on preparing young people for the transition and equipping them with the necessary skills to be marketable candidates for these roles. The unique challenges for rural youth and exclusionary factors of these transitions should be noted and accounted for through sensitive program design, including gender and mobility.

In addition to these considerations, programming emphasis should certainly be placed on emerging and in-demand sectors, including digital sector work, as my colleague Ricardo has mentioned above. While these sectors are often context-specific (that tools such as Skills Forecasting/Anticipation exercises can help identify), there are also global “emerging sectors” that will have relevance in all regions, and will produce transferable skills, in the years ahead. One such sector is related to green, clean, and renewable energy and engineering. As cities evolve and expand to hold more of the global population, engineering degrees are anticipated to become more valuable. And as the digital revolution has indicated, tech, software, and IT roles are also forecasted to become dominant. The ILO 2020 Report on “Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs” provides more insights on what to watch in the years ahead.

Preparing young people to enter these fields and empower them towards entrepreneurship takes immense resources, training, and investment. Partnerships with local colleges and universities (or secondary schools through Departments of Education) can help integrate curriculum that provides necessary skills trainings and relevant degree programs – with these programmes, special attention should be given to ensure to the enrollment of young women and girls, as well as persons with disabilities. It’s also imperative that with curriculum and skills development, career support from counselors (or the equivalent resources when young people are no longer in school) is also offered to help connect youth to opportunities. Without it, eligible workers miss opportunities because of a lack of access to information, which disproportionately impacts the most marginalized groups.

In addition to identifying relevant training for emerging sectors, we must also steer our work to anticipate the looming impacts of COVID-19. Young people have already and will continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 economic consequences. An ILO study finds that the “impact of the pandemic on young people to be systematic, deep and disproportionate,” especially on young women and youth from lower-income countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 85-90% of young workers are also informal workers – a sector that experienced devastating losses in income and livelihoods as a result of COVID-19. These vulnerabilities demand innovative and social protection systems now and in the future that include young people and informal workers explicitly in their design.

Agenda 2030 cannot be achieved without the intentional inclusion of young people into all aspects of development planning – ensuring that their livelihoods are resilient and secure by ensuring that jobs and trainings are available to them is a good place to start.

Nathalie Bouche Moderator

Dear Samantha,

Thanks for your contribution!

You are rightly reminding us that youth entrepreneurship alone indeed is not THE solution to youth unemployment. However, the focus of this consultation is on youth economic empowerment and from that perspective, it can be argued the promotion of youth entrepreneurship can be more ‘empowering’ than merely jobs, through wider skill development, including leadership, risk management etc., and as evidenced by Ricardo and other colleagues, greater opportunities to innovate!

Another important point you (and other colleagues) raised relates to the need for context-specific, participatory, holistic/‘systems’ approaches to youth economic empowerment, including through entrepreneurship, acknowledging that the multiple structural and behavioral barriers facing young women and men, and in particular the most vulnerable cannot be fixed through single point solutions. In this regard and considering the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the youth ( and likely dramatic impact this may have on intergenerational poverty as stressed by my colleagues Rita Sciarra and Maria Stage), there is indeed a need to further reflect on the nexus between social protection and youth economic empowerment.

The Covid-19 crisis has been challenging all young men and women’s transition pathways, be it to education, employment and economic-financial autonomy, as well as establishing families. Youth’s overrepresentation in the informal labor sector, as you noted, also precludes them for participation in contributory benefits while it shortens their formal work histories, affecting their benefits during their working life and beyond. Moreover, cash and other social transfer programs for children and families often elude young people, either because of their age (benefits are typically cut off after age 18) or because they no longer live with their parents.

In this context, it would also be great to have your and colleagues’ insights on how our support in the area social protection is being/can be leveraged as part of our support to youth economic empowerment !

Looking forward!

Elena Danilova-Cross

It is important to highlight that the key target of youth economic empowerment is the youth themselves. And examples from various regions of ECIS show that the process of ensuring a positive shift in local communities holds great potential. The impact of such UNDP programmes and support mechanisms is manifested first of all through the creation of jobs and temporary employment opportunities, especially in regions where work-away jobs are commonplace.

One of the major problem is that there are Youth economic empowerment programmes that have not been systematized but are nonetheless implemented by different institutions, which often work with the same people inside the same communities. This sometimes results in a decrease of interest and waste of resources. Programme systematization, will greatly contribute to raising the effectiveness of youth economic empowerment programmes. The above-mentioned examples suggest that principal policies and programmes are supposed to be concentrated not on the creation of more jobs for young people, but on the preparation and support of such young people who will create a lot of jobs themselves.

Some international organizations have a limited number of “their beneficiaries”, which in turn are a very small percentage of region-based young people. All in all, the main bulk of youth policies, programmes and work tools is not modified for working with diverse groups of young people. Therefore, new mechanisms, inclusive methods and work tools need to be developed. Only then will it become possible to implement gradual work focused on including the resources of the youth’s most diverse groups. The youth policy and programme sector does not cover all types of young people. The main UNDP interventions were aimed at the so-called “organized” youth (those who, for one reason or another, were involved in student, social or political organizations), as well as those young people who communicated with them, yet their number was not great, either. Therefore, the above-mentioned group constituted a very small part of the entire youth sector.

UNDP’s  ImpactAim project, implemented in Armenia, for example, is a unique platform supporting impact investment ecosystem development - helping channel private sector action towards the SDGs. The Platform brings together multiple stakeholders, including investors, tech community, academia, the Government and Donor Organizations, to develop solutions for development challenges with sustainable and scalable business model behind. Comprised of three pillars – the Accelerator, Impact Finance and Impact Measurement & Management, the platform uses a comprehensive approach to leverage collective intelligence and expertise and produce solutions for systemic change.

 

 

Rita Sciarra Moderator

Dear Elena, 

thank you so much for bringing such a great examples from Armenia. You are also raising very important points:

1) In order to maximize the impact of our interventions it's fundamental to work on structure policies for youth that can really prepare for them a real path to develop their jobs but also lives, in terms of opportunities. This requires a vision, and a long term support to the governments

2) The involvement of the private sector is key. I have experienced many times, the implementation of programs/project which not included the private sector, whose results where very poor since there was huge lack of vision, and a real mismatch in terms in labour demand-supply

3) Working on the entire ecosystem is key if we really want to have impact, and I think in this sense, the example from Armenia is a great one, especially in a post - covid era where we need now more than ever, we need to connect different sectors, actors, and find new solutions.

 

Considering also the great impact that covid had on women, I really think that in order to be inclusive, when we elaborate policies, create and implement projects for youth economic empower, is going to be crucial having ad hoc policies for women that can include them, protect them, and support them in a path that offer them a job, but also provide them with all the possible tools to give them the possibility to explore their full potential. If we don't consider this aspect as a central one, we will always have just a partial impact of our interventions.

 

Thanks for the great contribution Elena. 

R

 

 

 

Elena Danilova-Cross

How can we at UNDP overcome the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects to promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable results?

 

Together with interested representatives and other beneficiaries from the private sector, it is necessary  for UNDP to implement programmes for studying development approaches and modern-day transformation processes in the labour market and education systems (including IT possibilities such as Big Data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc.), and then, on the basis of those, generate programmes for applicable strategic reforms.

Serious reforms must be carried out in the professional orientation system: these should not only take into account the problematic state of the sector (i.e. be reactive), but also be based on the analysed material regarding the probable transformation scenarios for the labour market of the next few decades, as well as on a general vision regarding the country’s development.

Taking into consideration that young women and men experience several challenges in personal, family and public life, in education, in transition to labour market, special attention should be given to connection of their everyday needs and Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA). Youth initiatives, based on HRBA and gender transformative approach, should be mainstreamed into all national strategic documents; similarly, the principle of gender equality and non-discrimination should be mainstreamed into all public policies and programs related to youth issues.

It is necessary for UNDP to contribute to the formation of platforms for independent strategic thinking and planning in the sector of youth studies and programmes, as well as developing and applying long-term strategic guidelines (at least with the prospect of 25-50 years).

Nathalie Bouche Moderator

Dear Elena, thanks again for the great contributions.

 Echoing insights from other colleagues, it clearly underscores the need to find both holistic (somehow ‘whole of society’ ) and innovative approaches to fully take into account young women and men’ needs, demands and rights in youth economic empowerment policy making and programming, keeping the ‘youth’ at the center. In the first place this means genuinely engaging them, and in their diversity, in the design of policy and programs.

In this regard, I would like to get back to one of my earlier comment/inquiry regarding UNDP’s experience in  addressing behavioral barriers in youth entrepreneurship programming, as part of a more holistic, eco-systemic approach This is I think of particular significance in the context of COVID-19, where policy makers and practitioners, including UNDP have to deal with an additional layer of challenges and paradoxes, in promoting youth entrepreneurship.

For instance, do we know the extent to which  ‘standard support packages’ (e.g entrepreneurship education and skills training) actually result in tangible youth entrepreneurship (whereby beneficiary youth actually start and successfully grow their business? Are skills training programs that more actively engage the youth in personal action-oriented learning by doing processes more effective?

Elena, you also pointed to the criticality of networking initiatives and platforms to address the lack of entrepreneurship-business conducive social networks among young entrepreneurs or ‘would be’ entrepreneurs (and the Armenia platform is of particular significance), do we have early evidence that these can effectively contribute to entrepreneurship development?

In the context of COVID19, the promotion of digital skills is seen as a key enabler, providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs/would be entrepreneurs to access information, services, finance, markets and networks that they may otherwise not have had access to. However,  do we have early evidence of the impact of our digital initiatives on youth entrepreneurship outcomes?

Many of you also stressed the need to address social norms, in particular when it comes to the economic empowerment of young women. Whilst disrupting social norms, especially those that perpetuate gender inequality, requires comprehensive set of policy and institutional actions, do we have example of youth economic empowerment programs or initiatives which have embedded specific action upon social norms in their design, or helped shifting social norms?

It would be great to hear more from all of you, including from our Innovation Team colleagues in the Arab region Arab States who are working on a a multi-country project which aims to better understand the behavioral enablers of youth entrepreneurship.

Thanks !

NB

Elena Danilova-Cross

Dear Natalie, many thanks for your feedback, reflections and follow-up questions. The one related to early evidence that network platforms can effectively contribute to entrepreneurship development, let me respond based on my example from Armenia. The ImpactAim Accelerator, a platform which was established by the UNDP in partnership with several implementing partners like Enterprise Incubator Foundation, Innovative Solutions and Technologies Centre, Founder Institute Armenia, Impact Hub Yerevan and the Catalyst Foundation. ImpactAim is designed to drive the scaling up of local and international impact ventures. Through tailored mentorship and programmes and a specially designed curriculum, new initiatives strengthen market presence, scale up, and increase investment absorption capacity. With the launch of the ImpactAim accelerator, UNDP in Armenia created a broader impact investment catalysing facility to support the expansion of impact ventures. The facility is comprised of three elements: impact venture incubation and acceleration, impact measurement and management, and partnership with fund managers to attract investor financing to impact ventures. Five Accelerator Programs have been implemented, with over 24 impact ventures in the pipeline touching several SDGs with defined impact (see the link to the platform from my original message). While not specifically geared towards engaging the private sector on the SDGs, there are several innovation labs that touch upon the subject. One is the UNDP-led Kolba Innovation Lab, which has incubated more than 40 start-ups within the government, public and private sectors. In the public sector, Kolba organized an innovation challenge for civil servants. As a result, a team comprised of staff from the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Prime Minister piloted a tool that applies machine learning to the government’s open data resources in order to provide free legal advice to citizens.

Warm regards,

Elena

Roxani Roushas

Dear Nathalie, Thank you for raising these interesting questions and for mentioning the work we are doing as the regional innovation team in the Arab States to experiment with behavioural enablers of youth entrepreneurship that can complement more traditional, structural approaches. 10 of our Country Offices are involved, namely Djibouti, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Tunisia. You can find out more at an event we will be hosting during UN Behavioural Science Week on the 22 of June. You are all welcome to join us by registering here: 

https://undp.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYkdeigpzsvEtVJjWhyITsMptpMV_Xx2…

At the outset of the project, our partners, The Behavioural Insights Team, carried out a review of existing evidence on the behavioural barriers facing entrepreneurs, and what works and what doesn't when it comes to possible solutions. We will be publishing this in the next days, but to give you a flavour of some of the behavioural barriers covered:

- Lack of business experience and skills

- Intention-action gap (possible solution: planning prompts)

- Scarcity mindsets and cognitive overload (possible solution: prompts that are salient, simple, and timely)

- Lack of business-relevant networks (possible solution: networking and mentorship programmes)

- Lack of access to finance (which comes with a whole sub-set of interconnected barriers)

- Negative stereotypes, discrimination, and social and cultural normative pressures (possible solution: correcting misperceived social norms, esp. gender-related)

- Difficult and costly registration procedures

 

Among the facilitators:

- Entrepreneurial self-efficacy (growth mindset interventions)

- Personal initiative training

- Support from family and friends

 

Following experimentation at country level we'll be publishing a set of knowledge products at the end of this year featuring lessons learned and practical tools on carrying out behavioural interventions specific to youth entrepreneurship challenges.

Seher Alacaci

Dear Colleagues, let me join the discussion and share UNDP Turkey experience below: 

  1. Have you come across similar lessons in your work on youth economic empowerment? Do you want to share any other lessons learnt from UNDP support in this area? 

In youth economic empowerment field, UNDP brings together especially the private sector, public and civil society organizations, and leads short, medium and long-term programs for the economic empowerment of youth. Within these programs UNDP has supported young people's leadership, learning and dissemination skills. In this direction, UNDP has supported the training of over two thousands young volunteers as trainers and provided skills building trainings to over 2 million young men and women through ToT programmes with peer learning model. The topics covered financial literacy and inclusion, digital literacy and advanced level talent development on ToT programming for SDGs achievement.

Supporting the development of entrepreneurship ecosystem is also another focus area of UNDP Turkey (through SDG Impact Accelerator Programme; Accelerate2030, International Entrepreneurship Center), which positively contributed to youth economic empowerment for self-employment and job creation through social entrepreneurship practices.

 

UNDP Turkey had a specific dedication on economic empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities. Through a public-private partnership model, disabled young men and women were provided with skills building workshops and supported for the foundation of social enterprise models, which employed disabled persons in catering, music and arts sectors.

  1. What are the main barriers to youth economic empowerment that UNDP is trying to address?


The most prominent barriers are the lack of job opportunities in a long lasting economic crises environment and low quality education lack of entrepreneurial knowledge and experience, as well as area and gender based inequalities. There is a widening gap between the skills needed and available, in other words, a mis-match between the labor supply and demand in terms of skills. COVID-19 significantly accelerated digitalization which needs to be addressed by provision of skills development training at every level of education from schools to university and vocational trainings, to fill this gap. However, access and availability of such education and training is limited. UNDP Turkey has been implementing various projects to make such training opportunities more widely available for less cost.

  1. To what extent have youth been involved in planning of UNDP youth economic empowerment programmes? How can UNDP make sure that the needs of the most vulnerable are accounted for?

UNDP Turkey works with private sector and Ministry of Industry to develop curriculum that fits to the needs of industries and offers, especially for the fragile sectors that are the most affected from pandemic crises. In addition to that, within the projects, coordination and consultation meetings have been organized to increase the participation of youth into the planning phase of the programmes with the support of local youth organizations.

  1. How has UNDP worked with the with private sector and other stakeholders on job creation and policies that promote youth economic empowerment?

Within “Together We Can” project; which is running with the support of Vodafone Turkey, the career planning trainings and digital skills development trainings are disseminated. At the end of the trainings; the participant CV's will be shared with ''Kariyer.net'' a vacancy portal to match the job seekers with businesses. Innovation Campus project, a partnership with Samsung, is a talent development programme which offers intense IOT coding trainings to young men and women, who apply their knowledge in the projects that address SDGs. Another UNDP Project “I Can Manage My Money” capacitates youth in terms of financial management and enables their abilities to startup businesses with better financial management capacities. UNDP also activated a platform named Business for Goals, together with 2 major business networks in Turkey, TUSIAD and TURKONFED, which facilitated the training of 3,000 young men and women on digital skills, that are in imminent need by 5 fragile sectors and in transformation to survive at the aftermath of COVID-19 crises.

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of work and youth employment perspective around the globe. How has UNDP supported the emerging livelihood needs of youth?

Youth unemployment, which is experienced a result of the structural problems in Turkey, has deepened the problem of access to decent jobs due to the pandemic. However, not only youth unemployment is increasing; also the group that gives up looking for a job by losing hope of working is growing (discouraged unemployment). One of the factors of low youth employment and education is the lack of vocational training in Turkey. The unemployment rate of the young population between the ages of 15-24 is 26.1% and the rate of young people who are neither in education nor in employment is 29%.

Young people work in precarious and informal jobs more than the adults and therefore hit by COVID-19 Pandemic the hardest: The risk of losing jobs is three times higher for young people than adults. The adverse effects of the COVID-19 are felt more in certain sectors where decent work deficits were already at concerning levels. Turkey's structural employment problems such as high informality, limited access to social protection, commonly applied non-standard forms of employment, and lack of social dialogue mechanisms encountered in creative industries have reached alarming levels.

UNDP and ILO Turkey Offices have united their forces to raise awareness on the impact of Covid-19 on youth, and to 'Build Back Better', ultimately. The two UN agencies have already organized a number of online workshops, live stream events that attracted high interested and reached thousands of youth in a limited time. These events served as tools for better understanding and assessing the Pandemic's impact on unemployment, understanding the NEETs' expectations beyond the Pandemic, and integrating NEET youth into employment policy-making processes. The public institutions heard the NEETs' voice for responsive policies, private sector for responsive job opportunities and NGOs for better representation.

UNDP accelerated and intensified its efforts to increase availability and accessibility of skills development opportunities for youth on emerging sectors and transforming labour market needs, first and foremost on digital skills. In this context, e-learning, e-commerce and freelance work e-infrastructure were developed and supported, capacity building support was provided to the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) Directorate General of Lifelong Learning, Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) Directorate General of Youth Centers and National Employment Agency (İŞKUR), and joint e-learning programmes were developed and launched in cooperation with MoNE, MoYS and Turkish Red Crescent.   

 

UNDP has supported youth for their employability with well-designed trainings and special certificate programmes that have been implemented to develop the skills of young people, especially to meet the needs of the sectors. Development of e-trade channels, development of digital skills, development of digital financial awareness and meetings with private sector representatives can be general examples of UNDP’s efforts.

  1. How can we at UNDP overcome the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects to promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable results?

Ideally, multi-year funding for multi-year projects would ensure maximum impact and sustainability but in the absence of such resources, UNDP designs its projects to complement and reinforce each other to the extent possible and compounding the impact with each subsequent project to partially compensate for the short-term duration and limited funding. UNDP also considers the projects implemented by other UN agencies and/or I/NGOs to ensure synergies are not missed.

Joint systems thinking and action platforms are useful in terms of mobilizing the interest and contributions of a variety of development actors. Building sustainable mechanisms and networks with the participation of actors from private sector, public authorities, academia and civil society is important to overcome the challenges.

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

Thank you Seher for sharing the examples of UNDP Turkey! I'm particularly interested in CO experience related to 1) cascade skills training through ToT reaching a large scale of youth, 2) equipping youth with digital skills and 3) cooperation with the private sector (perhaps also benefitting from the work of the Istanbul Centre?). 

I'm wondering if you could share some of the lessons learned working in these areas, as well as good practices in monitoring and assessing results and contributions of such interventions/programmes to improved livelihood and better working conditions for youth. 

Elena Danilova-Cross

Posted on behalf of Amra Zorlak, UNDP Country office in Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Have you come across similar lessons in your work on youth economic empowerment? Do you want to share any other lessons learnt from UNDP support in this area? 

  • Engagement of key stakeholders (e.g., local, cantonal, entity, state governments, relevant line ministries, employment bureaus, universities, private sector, NGO sector, etc.) has proved to be very effective in terms of planning, implementation and maintaining sustainability of implemented employment support measures and interventions.
  • Diaspora played an important role, mainly through diaspora-engaged mentoring activities and supports toward entrepreneurship interventions. Innovating models of interventions, including long and short-term mentoring programs, connecting areas of studies with diaspora expertise, integrating research with applied solutions – all with diaspora support, plays an important role in stimulating engagement of youth within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • In the agri-food sector, UNDP encouraged companies employing youth and women to apply for financial support needed to increase competitiveness of their operations.
  • Promoting UNV modalities in programming improves youth employability.

What are the main barriers to youth economic empowerment that UNDP is trying to address?

  • Youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina face challenges in accessing the labor market. Unemployed youth (low-skilled youth in particular) are often pushed into informality, which is typically linked to poor working conditions or to labor migration.
  • Significant gaps between labor market needs and skills/educational attainments further contribute to lengthy and difficult school-to-formal-work-transition phases. One of the key barriers to youth economic empowerment is mitigating skills and knowledge gap in school/education supply side and needs of the labor market.
  • Young entrepreneurs face multiple problems when it comes to establishing new startup companies, such as the lack of seed funds, the lack of adequate entrepreneurial competences and skills.
  • Agriculture remains troubled with poor efficiency rates and low wages, both of which are targeted by UNDP projects.

To what extent have youth been involved in planning of UNDP youth economic empowerment programmes? How can UNDP make sure that the needs of the most vulnerable are accounted for?

  • UNDP works with different levels of governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina on design and implementation of development strategies which integrate youth perspectives and priorities. NGO sector is involved in the consultative planning processes, ensuring that voices of youth are adequately represented.
  • SDGs Framework for Bosnia and Herzegovina (supported by UNDP) as well as the UNDP Country Programme for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2021-2025 consider youth from various perspectives including those on gaining 21st century skills enabling them to get decent jobs.  Entrepreneurship and other funding schemes supported by UNDP focus on youth.
  • Youth remains among the most vulnerable groups of society. From our experience, integrating them within policy dialog processes (for example, involving 3rd diaspora generation with youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina to work on specific thematic policy intervention and activity) is beneficial. To support such efforts, more work is need to understand the needs and provide support in timely, systemic manner.

How has UNDP worked with the with private sector and other stakeholders on job creation and policies that promote youth economic empowerment?

  • UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina has launched a comprehensive entrepreneurial development programme for more than 100 young entrepreneurs from Canton Sarajevo. The programme consisted of 3 main components: a) organization and delivery of a specialized modular entrepreneurial training programme, b) provision of grant support to the most innovative and feasible business ideas, c) provision of mentoring and advisory support to the newly created startup companies during the first year of their operation.
  • In cooperation with 6 IT companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNDP supports creation of new employments for youth, applying the programmes of retraining, additional training, and professional development of young people. The support aims to ensure that the 45 best of the youngsters will get employed in these companies.
  • In cooperation with diaspora, many initiatives were implemented that promote youth economic empowerment, involving private sector, public institutions, diaspora experts from different fields, CSOs and young entrepreneurs. One of such initiative is D4Startups realized with the assistance of INTERA Technology Park, non-profit and non-governmental organizations from Mostar. The D4Startups involved five Bosnia and Herzegovina companies which presented challenges of their business, and ten young startups teams who offered IT solutions for problems companies have, in a form of competition (Hackathon). Five chosen startup teams were given the support of initial capital and mentoring from diaspora experts to develop their final products. The mentorship came from internationally recognized IT expert from Bosnia and Herzegovina living and working abroad, who assisted in product development, but also giving financial and business advice for supported startups. It proven to be very successful initiative since it resulted in registration of all five startups as a private company in Bosnia and Herzegovina creating new jobs for these young ambitions people. More info presented in short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMZmH_ZVkrY&feature=emb_title.
  • UNDP supports agri-food MSMEs and encourages companies employing young people to apply for funding, through award of additional points in the public call application processes.
  • In cooperation with Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Education and other line ministries, UNDP supported design of the entrepreneurship curriculum for two secondary vocational schools. The introduction of entrepreneurship curriculum will help secondary school graduates better cope with the demands of the market, enabling them to either set up their businesses or better meet the demands of their new employers. Some of the implemented activities include mapping of the country’s and regional efforts in introducing entrepreneurship in elementary and secondary schools; convening Working Group on introduction of entrepreneurship curriculum in Sarajevo Canton; Guiding and supporting the process of drafting curriculum through the Working Group forum; Support operationalisation of entrepreneurship curriculum in the two pilot schools.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of work and youth employment perspective around the globe. How has UNDP supported the emerging livelihood needs of youth?

  • UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina helped secure income streams for young agri- cooperants, enabling their access to livelihoods, through COVID-19 mitigation measures implemented in the summer of 2020;
  • During COVID-19, the need for mentoring support, including that within technology field and digital competitiveness became very much needed. UDNP supported young entrepreneurs via mentorship from diaspora expert – one example being support with mentoring within Sarajevo Business Forum Start-up Challenge organized by Bosna Bank International (BBI) – where diaspora mentoring support was provided to the winning entrepreneurs. Another example is the support provided towards the 12th Annual Days of Bosnian Herzegovinian American Academy of Arts and Sciences (BHAAS) Conference in Mostar during the ‘2021 Bosnia & Herzegovina three-minute thesis (3MT) competition challenge’ event. This initiative supports connecting established and emerging Bosnia and Herzegovina scholars from around the world in an effort to exchange ideas and create new initiatives and promote networking opportunities to inspire future connections and transfer of expert knowledge between young professionals and diaspora experts. It emphasizes the linkages between Bosnia and Herzegovina students locally and internationally and linking the knowledge transfer within academia and development. The activity will result in networking of more than 250 young persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina and diaspora inspiring collaboration and exchange of their expertise with a goal of creating new initiatives and benefits for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • In cooperation with the Ministry of Economy and Employment Office of Canton Sarajevo, in March 2020 over 60 new startups were supported out of which 95% survived challenges of the pandemic and local partners committed to secure sustainability.
  • Through various employment or income generation support interventions implemented in 2020, UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina supported creation of 107 new jobs for youth.

How can we at UNDP overcome the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects to promote initiatives that lead to more sustainable results? Through development of tailor-made entrepreneurship support schemes, the project will address the most pressing challenges when it comes to the entry barriers for the young entrepreneurs.

  • Overcoming the challenges related to limited funding and short-term duration in youth employment and entrepreneurship projects can be done through implementing initiatives in cooperation with public institutions, academia and CSOs focused on youth needs. What we have seen through our experiences is that if the intervention is well planned and demand-driven, the financial support provided by the project is always matched by other stakeholders – such as governments, private sector, SCOs etc.

 

Warmest regards from Sarajevo,

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

Thank you for sharing the experience of Bosnia and Herzegovina! The examples on engaging diaspora in mentoring and building capacities of young people are particularly interesting. Maybe the country office could share with the colleagues more information on how these partnerships have been established and which types/sources of resources have been leveraged to operationalize the initiatives?

Elena Danilova-Cross

Xiaoling Zhang , here is the reply from BiH Country Office:

UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina placed particular importance towards engaging diaspora in building competencies of youth. One such initiative was D4Startups, through which five new business ideas/investments were generated through cooperation with the private sector and tailored diaspora-involved mentoring and training assistance.

Through engagement of diaspora mentors, the project directly contributed to developing entrepreneurship opportunities and competitiveness in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Specifically, five youth start-ups were established in order to develop identified industry challenges represented by five big companies. All start-ups improved their knowledge through cooperation with diaspora mentors and strengthened their capacities by developing new products for renowned BIH companies. Diaspora engagement provided opportunities for creation of partnerships and access to social capital that are very beneficial for start-ups. Besides extensive support provided to five select start-ups, the project offered training to a broader group of 20 start-ups with over 80 team members.

This intervention was carried out in partnership with INTERA Technology Park – they provided special insight towards industry challenges that were addressed by youth and their diaspora mentors. The relationship between start ups and diaspora mentors resulted in long term relationships in several instances (this activity lasted for one year).

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

Elena Danilova-Cross Thank you Elena and CO BiH for sharing your experience! Perhaps colleagues from other country offices would also like to share your experience in this and other areas? 

Rita Sciarra Moderator

Dear Seher Alacaci what an amazing initiative! Very interesting to read about the partnership with Samsung to create the portal. It would be great to know a bit better how you were able to build such a partnership, involving Samsung but also the universities and other partners of the private sector. Thanks,

R

Tina Tordjman-Nebe Moderator

Dear colleagues, as this consultation draws to a close, I wanted to alert you that the questions that couldn't be addressed (due to time constraints) during our Reflections webinar on this topic have been answered here. This includes Sneha's great question about how best to maneuver in a saturated entrepreneurship space. Sneha Pathak would you like to share anything further on how the India CO is incorporating 21st century skills for youth economic empowerment?

 

Gabriela Elgegren

Hello everybody. Below you can find some ideas from UNDP Peru concerning the proposed questions:

 

  1. Have you come across similar lessons in your work on youth economic empowerment? Do you want to share any other lessons learnt from UNDP support in this area? 

UNDP Peru is taking advantage of rural community tourism’s good practices as an economical alternative to generate more employment opportunities and contribute to young people from rural areas skill development.

On the other hand, the program “Guerrero Emprendedor” (Warrior Entrepreneur) is a training program accompanying, training, and encouraging microentrepreneurs in our country through a flexible educational model. With a gender-marked approach, in this program our participants are advised and guided by personalized support from professional volunteers. In the coming months we will carry out a special edition of this program for young Peruvian people with the support of the Accelerators Lab. This edition will create a sustainability-social impact module to align their initiatives and organizations with the SDGs. In addition, this program will contribute to the National Program of Employment of the Ministry of Labor. This Ministry will be a crucial partner to connect with the most vulnerable youth all around Peru. We firmly believe in the power of Peruvian youth to address the current global challenges through their innovation and creative capacity.

  1. What are the main barriers to youth economic empowerment that UNDP is trying to address?

In many countries, one of the pivotal aspects that has influenced young people’s economic empowerment is the strengthening of their capacities through trainings and skill development. Both are crucial to access a decent job or to develop their businesses. Although, in the case of Peru the young population has better education levels than the previous generation, they still need to build more skills to respond to the new market needs (careers of the future) and to help them achieve economic empowerment.

However, young Peruvian - mainly rural - women also face other challenges. Parents continue preferring to invest in education for their sons instead of their daughters. Rural young women concentrate the highest teenage pregnancy rates because it becomes the only mechanism to run away from poverty. They hope to be supported economically by their partners. Without higher education they can't access decent jobs and money, preventing them from being financially independent and developing their dreams.

Another reason behind this rural family decision is the lack of money. It will be essential to provide incentives to rural families and their daughters to finish school and higher education, coming from delivering social protection financial mechanisms, technical education and university scholarships.

Another  aspect is related to the job offers themselves, often being very limited or precarious for young people mainly (women) living in rural areas. Informal labor in rural areas reaches 95%. In Peru, being "rural" equals being an informal worker. We need to leverage productive social programs in rural areas with a young-people-centered and gender approach that enhances their ventures and connects them with their regional value chains. More importantly, financial sustainability is needed, such as low-interest credits and loans, which can be achieved through multistakeholder partnerships contributions from the private sector (along the supply chain) and across sectors and ministries.

  1. To what extent have youth been involved in planning of UNDP youth economic empowerment programmes? How can UNDP make sure that the needs of the most vulnerable are accounted for?

The proposals mentioned before are being designed or implemented to include young people’s participation and to prioritize the reinforcement of their capacities in response to the context and the challenges of the future. For example, in the rural community tourism proposal they young will be part of the mapping solutions stage which will later be implemented in rural areas. In the “Guerrero Emprendedor” program, young people will identify and select the topics needed to improve their business and to adapt their business model. With the “Informality Lab” planning to be launched soon, the focus will be put on identifying the challenges of informal employment and in economic sector prioritizing entrepreneurship in order to reduce formalization barriers, especially for young people.

Young people’s participation is oriented to seek economic empowerment. Still, it also works to search for solutions to tackle the emergent development challenges in terms of poverty, climate change, and employment. For example, the “Acceleration Lab” of Peru held "Future Now" event in March with several young change-makers gathered forming a national community to co-create disruptive solutions..

  1. How has UNDP worked with the with private sector and other stakeholders on job creation and policies that promote youth economic empowerment?

For UNDP Peru the understanding is that the only way to achieve young people’s economic empowerment means to work hand in hand with them as well as multistakeholder partnerships, like the public and private sectors. Our projects count on the participation of private sector companies, civil society and public institutions.

Private companies participate actively by convening their interest groups to be part of the training projects and programs. Likewise, they are interested in contributing to initiatives that promote young people’s economic empowerment. Similarly, public institutions and governments have also shown their interest in in collaborating on employment and business development issues.

  1. The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world of work and youth employment perspective around the globe. How has UNDP supported the emerging livelihood needs of youth?

COVID-19 has affected young people in Peru, reducing employment opportunities in mainly urban areas. It caused job loss for many young people who came from rural areas, most of them daily-wagers, forcing them to return to their native villages —a process called “reverse migration,” like what happened in India.

All the government’s support, such as money transfers or loans to MSMES, did not includ young people as their target audience, hence their situation has worsened. The UNDP projects seek to improve young people’s skills, networking, and financing access tools to help them to develop sustainable livelihoods, in both urban and rural areas.

Xiaoling Zhang Moderator

thank you Gabriela for sharing the experience of UNDP Peru and highlighting among other important points the needs and challenges of rural youth and the engagement of youth not just as beneficiaries but also as creators of development solutions. 

Tina Tordjman-Nebe Moderator

Hello everyone! We are keeping the discussion space open until tomorrow (Friday) night to accommodate those of you who are still working on their contributions. We look forward to hearing from you!


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