What Can Be Done to Empower Youth Through Economic Inclusion?

At the Seventh Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Lima, Peru, Youngstars Foundation and Instituto Invertir organized a workshop on October 15 to ask, “What can be done to empower youth through economic inclusion?”

A well-rounded set of recommendations emerged from the workshop:

  • Promote entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship (nonprofit sector).
  • Include youth in planning processes on economic issues at all levels. Reach out to youth to listen and build trust. Help them to articulate their issues and give them platforms.
  • Provide access to information on how to start a business, how to find a job, and what opportunities and resources are available.
  • Provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs, especially through civil society. Give them tools such as leadership, teamwork, and conflict resolution, as well as technical, management, and vocational skills.
  • Connect entrepreneurs with each other and connect different sectors that support entrepreneurs (universities, financial entities, businesses, NGOs, etc.). Share best practices.
  • Improve education policy and address structural challenges so young people will have the right skills for the job market.
  • Do not stop with training, but track the progress of participants in youth programs.
  • Support youth initiatives at the local level.

Sergio Balladares of Movimiento Puente in Nicaragua described the challenges facing youth in Nicaragua: underemployment, shortage of human capital, and difficulty in finding employment that matches one’s specialization. Also, there are few incentives to start a company. Movimiento Puente advocates in schools for democratic values and assists the socioeconomic development of youth. It conducts workshops on job search skills, such as how to write curriculum vitae or how to act at a job interview. It works with organized private enterprise on internship and employment programs.

Emmanuel Kitamirike presented how Uganda Youth Network engages young people in mainstream political processes. It discovered that youth participation was not meaningful because they were not economically empowered. The challenges are that education does not provide youth with the skills to do something for themselves, and that economic growth is not creating jobs. There is a need to attract people to the agricultural sector. Young people especially need platforms to participate in decisions that affect them.

Claudia Bustamante introduced Instituto Invertir’s EmprendeAhora program. EmprendeAhora focuses on leadership, democracy, market economy, and entrepreneurship to give opportunities to university students in the Peruvian provinces outside the capital. It has a competitive selection process that identifies applicants with a leadership profile. Thanks to the program, 40 companies have been formed in the last four years.

Kingsley Bangwell related the challenges confronting Nigerian youth: unemployment exceeding 30%, the absence of youth involvement in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of city grants to start businesses, and a lack of trust in government. The government needs private sector cooperation to provide an enabling environment for young people, and young people need platforms for others to know what they are going through.

The discussion covered issues such as opportunities in technical and vocational work; agriculture; the informal economy; discrimination on the basis of sexual diversity; citizenship; mentorship; access to capital; access to information; and education.

Thanks to moderators Claudia and Kingsley for a stimulating discussion.

Kim Bettcher

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