Archive for Global Youth Enterprise Conference



Microfinace for Youth – Are We Beyond Age Discrimination?

Zara Khan, the Beyond Profit DC representative, reports from the 2009 Global Youth Enterprise Conference.

According to ILO estimates, in 2020 1 billion more youth will enter the work force, yet only 300 million jobs will be created. The role of microfinance in bridging this gap was a main theme at this year’s Global Youth Enterprise Conference.

To turn this “deficit into a dividend,” Alan Fleischmann, Managing Director of ImagineNations Group urges us to invest in our youth to promote entrepreneurial activity. He calls for a demand-driven approach, for investors and donors to listen to demand for capital from youth. With only 0.25% of major commercial banks and MFIs dedicating financial services to youth, there is no doubt that youth are marginalized.

Many cite youth as “too risky,” despite evidence that youth-led microfinance portfolios may have equal, if not higher, repayment rates than adult-led enterprises. Others cannot see beyond the threat of predatory lending when introducing financial services targeted to youth. The arguments for denying youth access to financial capital are reminiscent of arguments denying the poor access to microcredit. Are we again imposing stereotypes upon individuals?

Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup offered an alternative perspective to the issue of 700 million jobless youth in 2020. He does not see youth financial services as the main factor in promoting entrepreneurship. “Money is easy,” he said, “individuals are an energy unit which we have to learn to harness.” Clifton’s sees entrepreneurship to be the result of the perfect mix of optimism and determination. It’s not just optimism – “optimism on it’s own can be annoying.” When you overlay it with determination, then you have something.

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Technology: Findings New Ways to Get More for Less

Zara Khan, the Beyond Profit DC representative, reports from 2009 Global Youth Enterprise Conference.

The role of technology for social change in developing countries is limitless. And everyone is catching on.

It was clear at the 2009 Global Youth Enterprise Conference that the actors involved in technological innovation are no longer limited to the private sector. Many NGOs are now at the forefront of harnessing technology for alternative solutions. Organizations like Kiva have revolutionized the connection between beneficiary and donor. Social networking has become an effective, less expensive marketing and communication mechanism. Governments are also very powerful actors and they’re now getting involved in , partaking in public-private partnerships such as like Microsoft’s Elevate America, which provides national-level programs that certify IT skills.

Private sector technological innovation is now being targeted to meet the needs of consumers in developing countries as international sales are becoming an increasingly important source of business. The private sector is cooperating in finding new means to face everyday challenges in developing countries now more than ever by rolling out products specifically designed for conditions. Examples include more energy-efficient laptops and software that enables you to reduce internet costs by working offline.

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Youth Enterprise – Lessons from the Field

Zara Khan, the Beyond Profit DC representative, reports from 2009 Global Youth Enterprise Conference.

Interview with Chandula Abeywickrema, Deputy General Manager of Hatton National Bank

Chandula Abeywickrema speaks about his experience in Sri Lanka partnering with youth who have saved nearly $60 million through student bank branches and microbanks in rural villages. Abeywickrema highlights the importance of patient capital, participation in community development, and non-financial interests.

Interview with Adil Sadoq, Field Project Manager with MEDA

Adil Sadoq discusses the lessons learned from his work with Youth Invest to create inclusive financial services and education for youth in Morocco and Egypt. Sadoq brings to light the importance of reaching the right audience and using accurate measures of success for nurturing youth entrepreneurship.

Interview with Gary Barois, IDEJEN Graduate

Gary Barois, 20, relates his experience as Hatian youth launching a successful local business to sell pre-paid phone cards. Except for his training and seed money from IDEJEN, “there was no faith” in youth being able to start a business.

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On language: goodbye SME, hello pathological collaboration

Emily Davila, our Beyond Profit Guest Blogger, reports from the Clinton Global Initiative.

Part of the fun of being a part of a cutting edge sector is defining the terms for what we are doing as we do it!  This morning’s CGI session on “deepening financial inclusion” created some new terms and deleted some common ones:

Ones you can delete from your vocabulary:

Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid –  Sorry guys, there is no fortune here.  Building up services for the bottom billion will take a lot of work over a long time and subsidies will be necessary.   We need to be honest about the work ahead of us.  We need to name the partners that need to work together.  For instance, the government’s

social ministry needs to talk to its financial ministry when they are doing cash transfers to the ultra poor.  And the NGOs who can implement financial literacy programs need to talk to the banks that can invest in them.  By the way– this fortune will be measured by more than the money in the bank.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) – There is a big difference between a small micro-entrepreneur – say a food stand employing three people in rural Kenya — and medium enterprise like a factory employing 200 people in a peri-urban area.   While both need greater access to capitol, lumping them together isn’t helping anyone.  However: “community banking is ideal place to make funding available to both,” said Mary Houghton, President, Shore Bank Corporation.

Social Entrepreneurship —  “We need to erase dichotomy between where we make our money and where we do good. There is going to come a day is where every business entrepreneur should be social entrepreneur…” ironically this was said by Sally Osberg, President of the Skoll Foundation,  a funder of social entrepreneurs.

Here’s a word combo to add:

Pathological Collaboration:  This one is about getting everyone to work together – banks to fund organizations that can do the deep hard work of reaching the bottom billion, governments who can reinforce
with policies.   It was coined by my new favorite public speaker William Foote, the CEO of Root Capital. “We need to create a social movement for finance like the civil rights movement that has the vision to unlock financial for one billion people.  We need to think seriously about legislation that reinvents foreign assistant, not dead aid but vitally live aid.  We need pathological collaboration.” President Clinton repeated the phrase in his closing remarks, so I think its safe to say we just coined a new term!

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