YBI and consortium partners launch field research to boost understanding of context on youth entrepreneurship success


Re-posted with permission from Youth Business International:

Youth Business International (YBI), together with consortium partners Restless Development and War Child UK, are due to launch field research projects with YBI network members, including India and Uganda, aimed at improving industry understanding of how different contexts affect the success of youth entrepreneurship, and assessing how stakeholder programmes promoting entrepreneurship can be adapted to maximise their impact.

There are approximately 1.3 billion young people between the ages of 15 – 24: they make up a quarter of the world’s working population but represent half the world’s unemployed. For young people in the developing world especially, entrepreneurship is considered their only option. It is also considered a key way globally to reduce poverty, promote sustainable growth, create jobs and develop innovation and leadership skills.

But context plays a key role in understanding the success of youth start-ups, and they must form a critical part of initiatives which promote and support youth entrepreneurship. However, until recently, there has been little knowledge about what works best in different contexts.

YBI, with its focus on youth entrepreneurship, is therefore playing a leading role in the “Contexts Framework” project. This ground-breaking initiative is funded by a consortium of YBI, War Child UK and Restless Development through their Programme Partnership Agreement (PPA) with the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The consultation is chaired by YBI, and the consortium commissioned the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) to conduct research and act as secretariat to the consultation.

The “Contexts Framework” project aims to:

  • develop a Framework which supports greater understanding of what youth entrepreneurship programmes work in which contexts;
  • boost the testing phase of the project by encouraging organisations to apply the framework to their work.

Phase 3 (field research) aims to take the Framework, which was developed in Phase 1 and revised through sector consultation in Phase 2, into a practical testing stage involving all consortium partners. Until September 2014, Phase 3 will test, validate, and enhance the design and content of the Revised Framework document, and develop and refine its recommendations. Findings from Phase 3 will be incorporated into an Updated Framework – the final document in this particular project but it will remain a working document.

YBI’s Director for Strategy and Performance, Helen Gale, said: “The feedback has been invaluable. We are delighted by the level of sector engagement in our consultation and are looking forward to the next all important testing phase. As a global network, it is critical for YBI to be able to compare systematically what works in one context to another, and by working collaboratively with other practitioners and policymakers, we are helping build a much needed global evidence base in youth entrepreneurship”.

YBI will lead the field research in Uganda and India (where consortium partners have existing operations), with further practical testing regions yet to be confirmed. Testing will include a series of practitioner-focused workshops; a pilot workshop in India; wider sector involvement; and a cross-consortium workshop in Uganda.

Phase 2’s sector consultation, which kicked off in April 2012, included the formation of an Advisory Group, online consultation questions, and interviews with stakeholders. The Phase 1 Draft Framework and toolkit were presented in Washington DC at the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference, and high-level roundtable discussions were held with leading multilateral institutions in the sector.

While respondents found the Draft Framework to be interesting and solid, there were also calls to include, among others, a focus on gender, and more specific recommendations to enhance the Framework’s practicality and applicability. The subsequent Revised Diagnostic Model includes a spotlight on, among others, conflict levels, ethnicity, gender, organisational capacity and the economy.

Programme Director Beth Dea of YBI’s Canadian network member, the Canadian Youth Business Federation (CYBF), said, “CYBF looks forward to the consortium’s continuing research and its recommendations on the specific interventions best-suited to the contexts that are relevant to us and other YBI members.  Specifically, we look forward to examining how training and support initiatives can best be adapted for maximum impact and how this research may ultimately influence government policies here and abroad.”

Mattias Lundberg, Senior Economist in the World Bank’s Human Development Network, said: “Understanding context is essential. The constraints facing young people differ enormously across countries, cultures, markets and resources. The needs of a young entrepreneur in rural Sierra Leone are very different from those facing a young person in Freetown, the capital city, and even more different from a young person in Montevideo, Uruguay, or another middle-income country.”

“…One organisation can’t know all of this itself, but working with local agencies and partners we can better understand what we need to do to help young people achieve their goals,” Lundberg added.

For more information, visit www.yecontexts.org.