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

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.

From Silicon Valley to Sarajevo: Putting Innovation Tournaments in the Development Toolbox

Representing over half of the global population, youth are a driving force in today’s economy and will lead tomorrow’s. Each day, new businesses and innovative ideas are brought to life by young people. In the development space, nurturing young entrepreneurs can be a great investment. Many organizations provide business skills training, funding for entrepreneurs with strong business plans, and professional mentorship to help youth around the world overcome the very real barriers to launching an enterprise.

Solutions for Youth Employment: A Unique Way of Fostering Private Sector Involvement

A Good Job means equality. A Good Job means opportunity. A good job means excitement. A Good Job means sustainability. These are just a few of the descriptions of a “Good Job” that we heard from youth and others in attendance at last October’s launch event for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) coalition.

It was at this event that S4YE unveiled a vision for a world where all youth have access to work opportunities that empower them to escape poverty, thus boosting shared prosperity worldwide. An urgent challenge.  A massive opportunity.  

Global Employment Trends for Youth 2015: Scaling Up Investments in Decent Jobs for Youth

The youth employment crisis is easing, at least in terms of global trends…

After the period of rapid increase between 2007 and 2010, the global youth unemployment rate settled at 13.0 per cent for the period 2012 to 2014. At the same time, the number of unemployed youth declined by 3.3 million from the crisis peak: 76.6 million youth were unemployed in 2009 compared to an estimated 73.3 million in 2014.

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Cities of Opportunity: Drivers and Priorities for Urban Youth Economic Inclusion

Throughout history, cities have accelerated economic development and wealth creation around the world. In fact, the road to prosperity, it has been argued, inevitably runs through cities.1Though there is much heterogeneity among cities of various sizes and locales, the concentration of people, business, and services in urban areas generally allows for increased commerce, ideas and innovation.

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EU Youth Report: Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship

The economic crisis in the European Union has dramatically changed the youth labour market to a degree that in almost all European countries, several years since the start of the crisis, young people are still facing unprecedented difficulties in finding a job. While youth unemployment was already quite high in 2011, during the following two years the situation deteriorated even further in most countries, with eleven of these registering their highest youth unemployment rate for the 15-24 age group either in 2012 or in 2013 (60).

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