Different strokes for different folks: Why young entrepreneurs need customized assistance

Different strokes for different folks: Why young entrepreneurs need customized assistance

A woman from the Konso district of Ethiopia makes shoes. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mercycorps/5512259779/in/photostream">Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps(flickr)</a>
A woman from the Konso district of Ethiopia makes shoes. Photo: Joni Kabana for Mercy Corps(flickr)

One size doesn't fit all: Facing a youth unemployment crisis, a new report offers NGOs guidance on tailoring entrepreneurship programs to the specific needs of aspiring youth business owners.

Young people aged 15 to 24 make up a quarter of the global working population. But according to the OECD, in the EU, one in six young workers is looking for a job. In developing countries, most youth work by force of necessity, but the nature of this employment is precarious. Eighty-three percent are self-employed, primarily in the informal sector, with scant hope of a secure, meaningful career.

If the development community is going to help spread the spark of opportunity among these millions, it must think clearly about the different reasons people choose to start businesses—and the different obstacles that can hold back success.

With this in mind, the Overseas Development Institute (commissioned by Youth Business International, Restless Development and War Child) have produced a research report which sets out to help development organizations decide on the most effective ways of assisting young entrepreneurs in different country contexts.

The research compares cross-country data relating to entrepreneurship 'drivers' (factors motivating young people to set up their own business) and 'enablers' (strengths and resources available to self-employed youth) in order to assess what interventions are likely to have most impact in different country settings and for different types of entrepreneurs.

The toolkit uses a 'decision making tree' to enable policy makers and program staff to determine their specific 'context scenario' and then refer to the analysis and recommendations applicable to them.

Decision tree from 'Maximising impact of youth entrepreneurship support in different contexts'
Decision tree from 'Maximising impact of youth entrepreneurship support in different contexts'

The next stage of the research will involve consulting practitioners in the field to test and refine the toolkit.

To find out more, or to participate in the research go to www.yecontexts.org.

Via Karen Ellis and Helen Gale's Business Fights Poverty blog post.

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