2.3.1 Understand the context in order to develop effective interventions for entrepreneurship.

Context has a tremendous impact on youth entrepreneurship initiatives. Too frequently, the discussion of context remains anecdotal or the issue is probed in depth only after evaluation. Context, defined as a combination of external environment and demographic profile of target beneficiaries, needs to be considered in a more comprehensive and systematic way during all phases of program design, implementation, and evaluation. A new framework for understanding contexts, and designing appropriate interventions targeted to context, is in the design phase (see below). The framework contemplates various factors that impact context. In terms of external environment, the following factors are considered:

  • Types of market: factor (dominated by subsistence agriculture and extractive economies), efficiency (characterized by industrialization and an increased reliance on economies of scale with capital-intensive large organizations gaining dominance), and innovation driven (knowledge intensive with a large service sector)
  • Violence and conflict: conflict-affected, post-conflict, and peaceful
  • Geographic considerations: rural and urban

For entrepreneurs, the major considerations include the following:

  • Necessity-driven entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs who have few or no other income-generation or employment opportunities, and thus become entrepreneurs to sustain their livelihood by necessity rather than choice
  • Opportunity-driven entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs who pursue a perceived market opportunity and choose to start their own business, despite having the option of generating an income through employment elsewhere at the time of starting a business
  • Growth-oriented entrepreneurs: entrepreneurs who aim or plan to grow, and thus have a relatively higher job creation potential (which may also be an indication of greater international market reach and/or a higher degree of innovation in products and services offered). This is expected to be largely a subset of the opportunity-driven category
New Tools: Youth Business International (YBI) Leads a Consultation on a Contexts Framework

A consortium chaired by YBI that includes War Child UK and Restless Development produced a Contexts Framework in partnership with Overseas Development Institute (ODI). The framework incorporates a toolkit that provides guidance to policy makers, program designers, and implementers on how to prioritize and adapt youth entrepreneurship initiatives to context-specific opportunities and constraints.

Using the above definitions of context, YBI and consortium members identified various scenarios for implementing youth entrepreneurship support and provided recommendations on policy and program interventions that target probable challenges and opportunities unique to each scenario.  An example scenario for a factor-driven, conflict-affected, rural context is presented below:

YBI led a consultation to test and enhance the framework design and its applicability at the 2012 GYEOC. Important feedback included:

  • Context needs to be defined at the local level—national definitions are not practical
  • Cross-cutting definitions of beneficiaries, such as gender and disability, should be taken into account
  • Organizational capacity is an important determinant of impact and should be considered as a dimension of context
  • Without rigorous evaluations, the evidence base is too weak to derive robust recommendations
  • Lack of industry standard metrics for youth entrepreneurship programs constrains cross-organizational, cross-sector learning

Based on the consultation feedback, a revised version of the framework will be produced and further tested and refined by a working group of NGOs. For more information about this initiative, please contact YBI: [email protected].