Monday, 13 August 2012

Investing in street youths, incubating bright ideas

Generation Enterprise is an all-volunteer group of young community leaders working on four continents to realise one revolutionary vision:  Investing in street youths, incubating bright ideas, transforming communities. In 2009, it launched a pilot project in Lagos, the world’s fastest-growing megacity. Its business training and incubation programme, YouthBank, equipped homeless and unemployed youth to build viable, sustainable businesses that would allow them to leave gangs, prostitution, odd jobs, and criminal activity.

Developed by Wharton and Oxford business students, McKinsey Consultants and Nigerian youth leaders, the organisation adapts lean start-up methodology from Silicon Valley to Lagos’ bottom-of-the-pyramid markets. The goal is to foster new high-growth businesses, generate sustainable jobs, and get youth off the streets.

More than 80 million of the world’s young people are unemployed. Another 150 million youths are part of the “working poor,” eking out meagre and precarious livelihoods in the informal economy. This figure is the highest of unemployed youth ever measured by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and represents the breeding ground for a global social crisis.

The young social entrepreneurs on Generation Enterprise’s team are fighting to defuse this “ticking time bomb” and help a “lost generation” find its way. They have descended on Lagos, the world’s fastest-growing megacity where population explosion, slum expansion, desperate poverty, but also entrepreneurial drive and a new spirit of civic engagement collide.

The GEN drivers came from Washington DC, Atlanta, Berlin, and New York City are here again to to join their Nigerian teammates in Lagos to follow-up on their Alimosho and Agege project started earlier. They are partnering with the Lagos State Ministry of Special Duties and the Wiseup Foundation to open incubators in Alimosho and Agege. The Elumelu Foundation has joined the partnership.

The partnership is thus getting bigger. This is what Clara Chow want – a robust list of partnership that will make the job of creating jobs and lifting the distressed out of poverty fly high.

Launched in 2009, Generation Enterprise is comprised of a team of all-volunteer young professionals and students in the USA, Nigeria, Germany, Canada, and Singapore, dedicated to transforming slum economies by equipping  the youth to get off the streets and become socially-responsible business owners and community leaders.

Its unique two-phase incubator model targets youths in the urban developing world, a population largely left behind by the microfinance revolution. In 10 years from now, 40 million Nigerians will become job seekers, and most of them will be unskilled hands. What do we do with these job seekers? The GEN once raised this question in Lagos.

How Generation Enterprise works

Generation Enterprise creates a clear path for youth to go from poverty to self-sufficiency to community leadership. Unlike training programmes that prepare youths for jobs they may not find, GEN prepares them to create jobs for themselves and for others. It invests deeply in its fellows, and keeps working with them to realise a return on that investment – one that pays dividends for the whole community.

Full update on generation enterprise will be published next Monday

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