Enterprise Development


Enterprise development programs help entrepreneurs to start and run profitable businesses through training, technical assistance, and inclusive market development activities. While the dynamism and innovation that entrepreneurs bring to an economy are one reason to implement activities in this area, the inability of the formal sector to produce enough jobs for the growing youth population makes self-employment an important option for youth as well.

Where We Are Now?

Similar to the general enterprise and market development field, youth enterprise development has moved from a focus solely on the enterprise itself to a more holistic approach. While providing training or technical assistance to an entrepreneur is still important, practitioners are complementing these types of assistance with activities to strengthen an enterprise’s overall ecosystem. For example, projects now include initiatives to strengthen entrepreneurs’ networks, so that they can gain business or mentoring assistance as necessary, or focus on strengthening the overall value chain specific to youth enterprises.

Trends and Best Practices:

  • Not all entrepreneurs are created equal. Many youth start businesses out of necessity and are unlikely to grow their business beyond the micro-stage. A smaller subset are more entrepreneurial minded and given the right set of circumstances, have a greater chance to develop a successful small enterprise. Practitioners and donors are distinguishing between these types of individuals and providing different types of support to each.
  • Successful young entrepreneurs capitalize on their passion and market opportunities. Successful programs recognize this and help develop opportunities in areas that are naturally interesting to youth, or work to educate youth that more traditional activities, such as agriculture, can be both inspiring and remunerative.
  • Successful capacity building initiatives help entrepreneurs obtain the information they need and have the skills to manipulate it for business success.
  • Entrepreneurs require the skills to both run a profitable business and a financially stable household.
  • USAID and other donors have begun incorporating youth inclusion activities to value chain projects in a more robust way. By integrating a “youth lens” in value chain assessments, implementers are able to identify constraints and opportunities specific to youth and beyond those that apply to value chain actors more broadly.


Enterprise Development: Blogs

Agriculture as a Business for Youth in Africa

Originally published by The Young Africa Works Summit

Agriculture is the single largest source of income for rural Africans and contributes to a quarter of the continent’s GDP. The sector occupies more than 70 percent of the labor force in Africa’s low-income countries and contributes to food security and poverty reduction.

Mixed Livelihoods: A Reality for Youth in Africa

Originally published by The Young Africa Works Summit

Africa has 600 million young people under the age of 25. These youth have aspirations and dreams of who they want to be, how they will contribute to their communities and the work they would like to do.

What Youths Could Teach World Leaders on Development Targets

Originally published by the Huffington Post on September 25, 2015. 

At the United Nations in New York today, world leaders are gathering to finalize the Global Goals -- the targets that will replace the Millennium Development Goals and shape trillions of dollars of spending over the next 15 years. There is much high-minded rhetoric here at the United Nations that development is all about people.

Accelerating Pathways Youth Economic Strategy Index 2015

The Youth Economic Strategy (YES) Index seeks to provide policymakers, business leaders and other stakeholders with comprehensive and comparative data on the economic situation of youth in the 35 cities it covers. The index aims to inspire policymakers, the private sector and civil society to improve opportunities for youth aged 13 to 25. Are cities providing the enabling environment that supports the economic aspirations of youth? Are they making the proper investments and policy decisions to support youth and enable them to reap youth-driven dividends in the future?

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Cities of Opportunity: Rapid Urbanization and Implications for Youth

The world is becoming more urban, and residents of cities are becoming younger. By 2030, it is predicted that 60% of the world’s population will live in cities, of which up to 60% will be under the age of 18. But are cities ready for the challenges and opportunities associated with this rapid growth? In particular, are cities building the infrastructure and environment to provide economic opportunities for this growing youth population?

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Africa Agriculture Status Report 2015: Youth in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

On September 25-27, 2015, the United Nations is holding a summit at which the Sustainable Development Goals and their associated targets for the next fifteen years are to be adopted. The Goals are fully integrated and indivisible, but the first three (of 17) have a direct bearing on the central theme addressed in this year’s Africa Agriculture Status Report: Youth in Agriculture.

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