The last in a four-part series of articles on SOS Children’s Villages YouthCan! program. Links at the bottom of the page will help you navigate to the previous articles.
Hack is a member of the 2023 Youth Advisory Board. The new board members, some young entrepreneurs themselves, want YouthCan! to focus more on entrepreneurship education and support for young people wanting to start a business. In 2020, YouthCan! participants asked for more entrepreneurship training, and it was piloted in 18 countries the following year. Cristina Soreanu, YouthCan! Global Project Manager from SOS Children’s Villages International said: “YouthCan! is now both an employability and entrepreneurship program. This is what young people requested. We have taken this direction in response to their needs and the realities of job markets. In many countries, entrepreneurship is a necessity, not an option. There are no job opportunities, so the only way for young people to make a living and succeed is to start a business.”
During the conference in Bonn, young people explained how difficult it is to turn their ideas into business initiatives without experience, capital, and support networks. They stressed the importance of mentorship and expert guidance. They also called for initiatives to help young people see entrepreneurship as an option for the future, become mentally prepared to take risks, believe in their abilities, and face the business world with resilience.
© Magdalena Sikorska
“Through entrepreneurship, we can combat the rising global issue of youth unemployment,” said 22-year-old Emma from South Africa. “I believe young people and their sustainable business ideas can make the world a better place. If we set the foundation for youth entrepreneurship in our communities, the future will be less intimidating, more secure, and exciting for our peers. Together, we can create a world where being a young entrepreneur is a norm.”
By the end of 2022, more than 270 YouthCan! participants started their own businesses. The number of entrepreneurship activities in the program increased by over 70% last year, with a focus on social entrepreneurship.
Alexander Bernhard, Managing Director of Impact Hub Stuttgart, explained the concept of social entrepreneurship during the conference in Bonn: “We are talking about the development of innovative products and services that tackle social and environmental challenges and address existing needs instead of creating new ones.”
Young people engaged in YouthCan! see themselves as positive change agents in their communities. “Many people tell us that we are the future leaders, but we are not waiting for the future. We are leading today,” said Vanessa from Rwanda, closing the youth-led panel in Bonn.