|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Transforming Unemployed Youth into Entrepreneurs Part of Solution to Global
Crisis, Says Secretary-General at Thematic Debate on Development
Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the “Entrepreneurship for Development” General Assembly Thematic Debate, in New York on 26 June:
I am pleased to address this important debate. We meet in the middle of a global jobs crisis that demands a bold response.
This year, some 73 million young people will be unemployed. An estimated 425 million young women and men will join the labour force between 2016 and 2030. That means the world will need about half a billion jobs by then.
To help meet this challenge, we should encourage, educate and empower young entrepreneurs. My Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, agrees. He says “We need to make a shift from talking about creating jobs for youth to talking about inventing jobs by youth.”
Entrepreneurship can be a part of the solution by transforming unemployed young people into major employers. Let me give you an example. Lorna Rutto is a young woman from the Rift Valley in Kenya. It is a beautiful region, but like many people there, Lorna grew up in a slum.
One of the biggest problems was the sewage and waste. There was no garbage collection so the trash just accumulated. Before she was even a teenager, Lorna saw an opportunity. She melted the plastic into little ornaments that she could sell.
In her twenties, Lorna started a recycling programme. The International Labour Organization helped her shape a business plan. By the time she was 24, she had created 500 jobs. In the process, Lorna has eliminated over 1 million kilos of waste from the environment and saved more than 250 hectares of forest. This is how we create the future we want; by finding solutions to sustainable development challenges ‑ solutions that create jobs and spur growth.
Lorna is very impressive. But she is not alone. There are countless other young people with fresh ideas who can help us to unleash change. We should not waste their potential. And, as Lorna has said, we should see the potential job opportunities in waste.
Entrepreneurship is about innovating, breaking down barriers, taking risks and showing that new business models can tackle longstanding problems. Many large companies started in someone’s kitchen or backyard. A number of those companies are now major corporations giving back to communities. Individuals are also making important contributions. Collectively, these entrepreneurs are helping to advance the Millennium Development Goals.
This generation of youth is the largest in history. If we invest in their education and empowerment, we can transform our world. Too many young people are caught up in conflicts, languishing in poverty or struggling just to eat. We have to provide them with a peaceful, secure environment where they can cultivate their skills and contribute to society.
Let us do everything possible to nurture young people and open their prospects for the future. I call on all partners to support youth entrepreneurship, self-employment and youth-led businesses. The United Nations system will do its part. Our Global Compact initiative will continue mobilizing and supporting young entrepreneurs in advancing a more sustainable future.
The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Labour Organization are collaborating on a Youth Employment Network to help young people to start and run their own enterprises. The United Nations Capital Development Fund is working with the MasterCard Foundation to establish YouthStart. This initiative aims to increase access to financial services for low-income youth in sub-Saharan Africa. It is helping them make sound financial decisions, build a strong asset base, and create sustainable livelihoods.
Now we must build on this progress. There are five steps we can take together: First: Foster an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship. Second: Build the capacities of local institutions. Third: Provide career counselling. Fourth: Facilitate access to finance and youth-friendly financial services. And fifth: Coach young entrepreneurs beyond the start-up phase, so they can maintain success.
Let us also support cooperatives, microcredit initiatives and other drivers of entrepreneurship. I look forward to your ideas to support entrepreneurs to realize our shared vision of a prosperous, safer and more secure world. Thank you.
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