Vondelkerk Amsterdam
Breakaway Sessions - Round One

Peace Child International
                           Joao Scarpelini focused on creating n...
Change Fusion
                                    Sunit Shrethra is Director of Change Fusion based in Bangkok.
Why Youth?
The panel discussion also breached an important topic of why a conscious and focused effort must
be placed on y...

                                        Pamela Wesonga and Nynke Nauta described their program
Research Master Market

                          As an additional component of the conference, Masters
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Youth SEEN Conference Report


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Youth SEEN Conference Report

  1. 1. Conference Vondelkerk Amsterdam 25th May 2009 The Youth SEEN Conference, facilitated by UpToYouToo and Spark was organised for partner NGOs to come into contact, share ideas on how to best approach the problem of youth unemployment, and create a stronger coalition between organisations looking to become further involved in youth entrepreneurship and self employment. Plenary Sessions ! The day began They highlighted the systemic issues the Self with a short video, Employment & Entrepreneurship Network made by YIKE in (SEEN) seeks to address. Namely, the lack of N a i ro b i , K e n y a attention or research devoted to youth featuring stories employment, particularly in unstable and people environments or with vulnerable groups, the affected by the need to coordinate efforts, knowledge and obstacles facing voices to get youth employment on the youth as they look for work in some of the international agenda, providing real ways out of world’s poorest communities. Interviewees poverty, and paving the way for both economic gave insight into the challenges of finding and social stability. regular work, confronting prejudices, and g e t t i n g e x p e r i e n c e n e e d e d t o s e c u re In the plenary employment. Moreover, the film touched on the s e s s i o n , cycle of deprivation and desperation that leads questions were many youth into crime, only perpetuating the also raised prejudices that keep them from being accepted concerning how into the regular workforce. Yet, the film also to define some of had some hopeful messages about the positive the terms that impact that can be made by linking youth would be used in together in joint efforts to build community the following discussions and debates. What is support and start small income generating “entrepreneurship”? And who are “youth at pro jec t s . T h e vi de o was followed by risk”? These questions brought to the fore the introductory speeches given by PJ Van need for more clarity and concordance among Kampen and Marieke Pluk, representing the experts and practitioners when creating the facilitating organizations, UpToYouToo and terminology they collectively use. This also Spark (respectively). highlighted the uncharted nature of the territory being embarked upon.
  2. 2. Breakaway Sessions - Round One Peace Child International Joao Scarpelini focused on creating networks that enable people to mobilize local resources, and challenges of measuring impact. Joao’s presentation described the evolving history of Peace Child and its contemporary mandate to make youth and adults partners in development and peace. Through interactive methodologies Peace Child has, for decades, been generating energy within locally based networks for change. This is usually facilitated through providing feedback and support from the main Headquarters in the UK to locally operating projects all over the world. Branson School of Entrepreneurship James Wanjohi described the work of the Branson School in Johannesburg, South Africa, where Academic and Private Sector Development institutions are focusing on the challenges of the local context and supporting entrepreneurs working within. The program provides basic business management skills and practical training as well as hosts competitions and awards incubator space to exceptional participants. The challenges ahead are avoiding donor-dependence and eventually generating enough revenue to be self-sustaining. Partnering with others could spark new ideas. BSC Kosovo Besa Abrashi described the challenges faced by the divided communities of post-conflict Kosovo, where segregation and unemployment are a threat to social development and progress. By working in enclaves, BSC Kosovo is trying to facilitate integration and build trust. However, political and economic obstacles require patience and long-term approaches. Discussion was initiated about the need for success stories to build momentum in communities, but also the need to share failures with network partners to facilitate learning and encourage problem solving. Biashara Za Vijana Sophie Besnard presented the results of research she conducted in collaboration with the UpToYouToo foundation and as part of her Master thesis International Development Studies. This research focused on the potentials of poor urban youth to set-up a (small) enterprise in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Her main finding was that there was a general lack of knowledge about the opportunities and restrictions amongst the youth themselves but also amongst the stake-holders in their environment, such as the government, financial sector and NGOs/CBOs. Additionally Sophie shared some personal thoughts of the advantages as well as challenges of combining academic research with doing practical research.
  3. 3. Change Fusion Sunit Shrethra is Director of Change Fusion based in Bangkok. His organisation supports young social entrepreneurs in South and South Eastern Asia through helping them with social innovation design and also acting as an investment service providing applicants with grants, loans, equity and arranging job placements. The main things that they offer are knowledge, access to their network, finance and also incubation. Change fusion currently has social enterprise portfolio’s in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, India & Malaysia. Commission for Youth Social Entreprise/ UNLTD Nick Mickinski who is involved in both the Commission for Youth Social Entreprise and UNLTD in the UK provided information on how they aim to encourage and empower young social entrepreneurs. The Commission involves 21 young successful social entrepreneurs helping other young people to become social entrepreneurs themselves through research and mentoring. UNLTD received GBP 100 million from the Millennium Awards Trust to help support over 5000 start up social entrepreneurs from all around the UK. Future research is planned to map the UK sector of support for young social entrepreneurs and to explore the connections between demographics and social action. Panel Discussion Nick McKinski, Michel Boerrigter, Frank Mukama and Pamela Wesonga comprised the panel discussing their experiences of the impact of Youth Business Strategies. Michel described his organization’s (Plakkies) design to build on people’s desire to improve their lives, focusing on economic value, equity and sustainability. Moreover, success in one business inevitably leads to generating more business for partners. Frank iterated the fact that youth must understand that they have a stake in community development in order for them to genuinely contribute to it. Creating a National Action Plan at the government level was a sign of the political commitment that is also needed. Pamela drew attention to the impact of creating youth groups in slums to support each other in entrepreneurship and self-promotion. She described a sanitation project started by participants, which led to jobs and also improved the living conditions in the community. Taking pride in the community as also reduced crime to a point where even police notice the difference.
  4. 4. Why Youth? The panel discussion also breached an important topic of why a conscious and focused effort must be placed on youth specifically. Michel spoke of the optimism, creativity and innovation, and the high amount of energy youth can provide, giving them some important comparative advantages to working exclusively with adults. Pamela also astutely pointed out that in many developing nations, like Kenya, the vast majority of the population was under 30 years old. “If we ignore the youth, we ignore 75% of the country!” Also, challenges of working with youth were brought up. Patience and garnering strong commitment to follow through with projects was the overwhelming obstacle cited by all discussants. However, the tone remained resolute in the vital importance of concentrating on the younger half of society when building for tomorrow. Comments from the audience noted that by inviting youth to be partners in, and not just part of, development prepared future generations to claim their responsibilities for creating the future. As Frank put it, “The future promise of a nation is seen in the present potential of its youth.” Breakaway Sessions - Round Two Child At Venture Founder, Jamy Goewie (left) gave a presentation with videos of projects supported by Child at Venture carried out by youth in The Philippines. The stories illustrated their work “after development but before micro-finance” in building the confidence and resourceful capacities of children for whom formal schooling is not an option. The program also links up with social organizations such as shelters and orphanages to create small groups of entrepreneurs who are able to work together. The program, independent from donors, provides mentoring and vocational training through working with 20 Dutch Corp. Making Cents International Whitney Harrelson described the work of Making Cents International, an organization that focuses on Market Driven Approaches in the Youth Enterprise and Livelihoods Sectors. Making Cents underlines the importance of Market Driven Approaches: “Teach People to Make What They Can Sell, Not Sell What They Can Make”. In this they highlight the importance of involving youth. In a recent program they are linking up youth, youth-serving-organizations and financial institutions in order to build the youth inclusive services field. Every year they organize a global conference the Global Youth Enterprise Conference, where they facilitate networking between different actors in the field of youth entrepreneurship.
  5. 5. YIKE Pamela Wesonga and Nynke Nauta described their program working with youth groups in the slums of Nairobi. The groups create their own employment opportunities through projects in sanitation, performance and retail. Some challenges facing youth are harassment by police and prohibitive levels of prejudice which block them from the job market. However the youth groups build cohesion and internal support in the communities of the slums. The YIKE program gives training in soft business skills, provides grants, and takes on the challenge of changing the mindset of their participants to think and act entrepreneurially. End Debate Sunit Shrestha, James Wanjohi and Whitney Harrelson led the panel debate ending the day. The topic was the question of what added value an international network of Youth Entrepreneurship organizations could provide. Initially the conversation focused on the increased leverage a united coalition could hold in putting the issue of youth employment on national policy agendas. Also several people voiced the need for information sharing, both successes and failures, to avoid “re-inventing the wheel” and speed up the learning curve for this relatively new field of development. In this vein, connecting with Universities was offered as a strategy for collecting not only research and data, but also persuasive incentives for “unlikely partners,” such as private corporations, to get involved. There was also a general consensus for the need to engage youth in the designing of the network itself, and building a large constituency of youth who could work with experienced practitioners in creating programs from the very beginning. Many agreed that making youth accountable was essential to the vitality and legitimacy of the project, providing youth with the opportunity to step-up to the responsibilities that they would shoulder in the future. Most saw this as an idealistic objective but, nonetheless, quite challenging in practice. Thus, a strong coalition of dedicated people and a clear and coherent strategy are undeniably essential. Challenges Ahead Despite the general consistency in goals and objectives among the projects, questions were raised about whether different contexts might make knowledge learned in one country inapplicable to another. This was particularly emphasized in regards to those projects working in post-conflict settings were challenges faced are quite unique and different from other developing or impoverish countries. A second topic arose concerning donor-dependency and thinking up new strategies for sustainability. In mobilizing scarce resources, “Innovation,” as James put it, “is the name of the game.”
  6. 6. Research Master Market As an additional component of the conference, Masters Students and researchers were invited to come explore opportunities for conducting investigations with the attending organizations. An open market for networking and contact information exchange encouraged current students to consider the under-studied topic of youth entrepreneurship as a very current and pressing issue on which they could write a thesis. After party @ Cafe Zouk ! After a long day of discussions, presentations, debates and exchanges, all attendees were invited to relax and mingle together on the terrace of Cafe Zouk. This gave attendees and experts more time to socialize over some drinks and chat with people to build a rapport with their counterparts, creating the foundation for future potential networking. For more information, please visit our site: Conference & report facilitated by UpToYouToo & Spark