Manila A regional program that targets social challenges and unemployment by harnessing youth leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation was launched by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Citi Foundation today.
The global youth unemployment rate is currently over 13 percent*; that is about 71 million young people, aged 15 to 24, are unemployed worldwide, and about half of these live in Asia Pacific.
In addition, the Global Youth Survey 2017: Economic Prospects & Expectations study commissioned by Citi Foundation found that of the 7,000 respondents polled, 69 percent had dreams of starting their own business but only 44 percent were trying to do so, citing a lack of education and skills and concerns of failure.
The survey polled respondents across 45 cities worldwide. A majority of 78 percent also agreed that apprenticeships and internships were critical to future success but 60 percent did not feel that there were enough of such opportunities in their cities.
Targeted at helping young people overcome some of these challenges, the Youth Co:Lab program will convene a series of National Dialogues and Social Innovation Challenges across Asia-Pacific that will culminate in a Regional Summit to be held in Bangkok in March 2018.
The National Dialogues serve as platforms for young people to directly engage policymakers, private sector partners including incubators, youth-led organizations, NGOs and academia, on how to develop and accelerate youth-led entrepreneurship and social innovation.
Alongside the National Dialogues, the Social Innovation Challenges, akin to start-up hackathons, enable participating youth to showcase their proposed ideas and solutions to tackle some of the world's biggest social challenges.
Through these platforms, young entrepreneurs will connect with governments, mentors, incubators and investors who will help equip them with entrepreneurial capabilities and skills. This includes mentoring and networking opportunities as well as support to start and accelerate their social enterprises.
UNDP and Citi Foundation launch their partnership during the Youth Co:Lab National Dialogue: Inspiring Innovators, Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Actors for Development (i2 LEAD), held at Makati City. The two-day Dialogue brings together some 100 delegates including government officials, private sector participants, academia and youth representatives to identify challenges and solutions to improve the support and ecosystem for youth entrepreneurship in the Philippines.
Speaking at the launch, Jim McCue, Citi Shared Services Asia Pacific/Japan Head and Risk Shared Services Manila Head, said: "We are proud to be partnering with UNDP to empower young people to take control of their future. Youth Co:Lab is part of Citi and the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress** initiative to prepare urban youth to thrive in today's economy. We are doing our part by collaborating with municipal and community leaders in cities around the world to tackle youth unemployment. In addition, I firmly believe that empowering young people to lead through entrepreneurship and social innovation is a critical part of the solution."
Statistics show many Asia Pacific countries are experiencing a "youth bulge" with adolescents and young adults making up a third of the population. In the Philippines, the median age of its population is 24.2 years and 32 percent of the 103.5 million population is under 15. It has the third youngest population in the ASEAN after Laos and Cambodia.
"The youth of the Philippines' not only have a stake in the country's development trajectory but can also play a critical role in shaping that trajectory. The challenge is to harness the creativity and dynamism of the young and align these to tackling some of the country's most significant development challenges. UNDP is delighted to work with Citi Foundation in providing a platform to enable youth-led social enterprises to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs in the Philippines," UNDP Philippines Country Director Titon Mitra said
"We hope to catalyse youth innovations, provide young entrepreneurs with better access to market information and business skills, and with government, provide a better enabling environment for youth-led enterprises. With Citi Foundation, we hope to inspire young innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs to become influential and successful actors for development."
UNDP and Citi Foundation, alongside local network partners, are pioneering the National Dialogue & Social Innovation Challenge in various countries in Asia Pacific. In its inaugural year, key countries including Thailand, Philippines and China are being piloted and plans are already underway to scale up the Youth Co:Lab program across the region next year.
For updates, follow #YouthCoLab on social media, and visit the Youth Co:Lab Facebook.
*International Labor Organization
** Pathways to Progress is Citi and the Citi Foundation's response to the persistent issue of youth unemployment globally. Led by the philanthropic efforts of the Citi Foundation, and strengthened by the active involvement of dedicated Citi volunteers, the Pathways to Progress initiative supports programs that help young people, ages 16-24, build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job.
In February 2017, the Citi Foundation announced it would expand its philanthropic commitment to empowering urban youth with an additional $100 million investment to impact the lives of 500,000 young people in cities around the world by 2020. To support these efforts, Citi is mobilizing 10,000 Citi volunteers to serve as mentors, coaches, and provide professional advice to help young people move towards their career goals.
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi.
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.
UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. We help countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. This is a critical time for the world. At UNDP, we see this period as a huge opportunity to advance the global sustainable development agenda. In September 2015, world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. We support countries' efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, which will guide global development priorities through 2030. UNDP focuses on helping countries build and share solutions in three main areas:
Sustainable development; Democratic governance and peacebuilding; and Climate and disaster resilience. In all our activities, we encourage the protection of human rights and the empowerment of women, minorities and the poorest and most vulnerable. The Youth Co:Lab project is run out of the Effective Governance team at UNDP's Bangkok Regional Hub for the Asia-Pacific. Additional information can be found at: http://www.asia-pacific.undp.org/.
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