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Maximising the impact of youth entrepreneurship support in different contexts

The global youth population is the largest in history. Of the world’s 3 billion people estimated to be under the age of 25, approximately 1.3 billion young people are between the ages of 15 and 24, making up a quarter of the world’s working population, but representing half of the world’s unemployed. Just under half live on less than $2 a day, as estimated by the United Nations.

Most young people in the developing world face little prospect of obtaining a job in the formal sector; for many, self-employment is the only option. Helping young people to earn a living through entrepreneurship can make a crucial contribution to poverty reduction

In addition, future innovation and economic growth will depend on future leaders with entrepreneurial skills and attitudes. Youth entrepreneurship is a key tool to develop the human capital necessary for the future, unleash the economic potential of youth, and promote sustainable growth.

Many different initiatives exist to promote youth entrepreneurship, from providing training to young people who want to start their own business to venture capital funds helping to promote these businesses, yet little is known about what works best – and in particular what works best in different contexts. Operating context is critical to impact, yet there exists very little understanding or guidance about how context affects impact in practice, or how interventions should be adapted to maximise impact, especially in the youth entrepreneurship sector.

Given this global context, ODI was commissioned by Youth Business International (YBI), Restless Development and War Child to conduct a study about ‘maximising the impact of youth entrepreneurship support in different contexts’.

Our goal is to engage and review a broad range of sector evidence and experience in order to produce a user-friendly youth-entrepreneurship contexts framework. The framework and toolkit are intended to guide key audiences as follows.

  • Policy-makers and donors: to be informed how to allocate resources to support youth entrepreneurship most effectively in different contexts.
  • Programme decision-makers: to understand how to design and prioritise youth entrepreneurship interventions most effectively in different contexts.
  • Programme implementers: to understand how to adapt delivery of interventions most effectively in different contexts.
  • Evaluation specialists: to be informed how to compare impact results from one context against another.

We have developed a provisional framework and toolkit, and are now consulting experts and practitioners in the field, to help develop and refine the toolkit. The consultation process will run from July to November 2012.

For more information about our consultation, or to contribute, please go to www.yecontexts.org, where you will find the full consultation document, be able to answer some of the questions mentioned above, and find out more about our consultation activities. You can read the underlying research here.


Carolin Williams; Claudia Pompa

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