2020: Highlights from the YBI network

This year has been challenging for all of us, but especially so for the underserved young entrepreneurs we support.  

It has been inspiring, uplifting, impressive and motivating to see how the YBI network has risen to the challenge. All our members have demonstrated innovation, commitment and creativity to pull out all the stops, pivot services, reassess needs and deliver crucial support for young entrepreneurs. 

Check out our highlights from this year below. 

Our response to COVID-19 

In April, YBI began rolling out our COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery Programme funded by Google.org to give vital emergency support to over 200,000 underserved businesses in 32 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. In August, we expanded the programme to Lebanon to give extra support to small businesses affected by the devastating explosion in Beirut. Read our recommendations for a continued response and recovery that meets the needs of young entrepreneurs in our learning paper

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown another important light on mentoring, which has never been more essential to the young people our members are supporting. At a time when critical decisions need to be made alongside moments of huge emotional distress, having a mentor who understands how to support you is incredibly valuable. With this in mind, YBI launched its SOS Mentoring initiative. The aim was to enhance established volunteer business mentoring programmes by directly supporting mentors from around the world to further develop their skills. We worked with over 1,500 mentors across the world. SOS Mentoring 2 launches on 27 January 2021 – more to follow. 

Between May and October, we ran several GPS (Growth & Performance Skills) training sessions (in Spanish and English) for young entrepreneurs to navigate the current crisis with the right soft skills. More to come in 2021 in English, Spanish and Russian. 

Harnessing the power of innovation and digital 

The winners of our second Innovation Challenge, Qredits and ICCO Uganda, further developed their winning entries. Qredits developed their BeYourOwnBoss educational programme offering tools and a curriculum for teaching entrepreneurship skills in school. Meanwhile, ICCO Uganda further developed their credit assessment tool, which links young, high-potential agripreneurs to affordable agricultural loans. 

Six members participated in our Digital Accelerator programme this year: Faten Palestine, Spark Rwanda, FATE Foundation, Youth Business Spain, BYST and B’YEAH. All have explored how to use digital solutions to innovate their operations and help small businesses embrace digital transformation

In January, representatives from Fundacion Paraguaya, Jinishan Memorial Foundation, FATE Foundation and Keren Shemesh came together in London for a three-day bootcamp on business model innovation for sustainability and scale, led by business model innovation and scaling specialist Ian Gray. Find out more in our interview with Ian

Fostering inclusion and diversity in our network 

In September, we wrapped up the three year programme M-UP Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow. This work set the stage for our continued support for youth on the move and our latest report “Beating the odds: Supporting youth on the move to become successful entrepreneurs”. 

This year, YBI marked two important dates to celebrate and promote female entrepreneurship. Our week-long campaign for International Women’s Day celebrated young women entrepreneurs from the YBI network. In October, with the Citi Foundation we awarded the Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year  Europe Award to Mariia Plotkina, supported by  Youth Business Russia.   

The power of our network and collaboration 

In January, we welcomed three new members in Nairobi, Kenya to the YBI network: CAP YEI, Sinapis and Somo. Since April, we have onboarded 20 delivery partners across EMEA, APAC and MENA regions for our Rapid Response and Recovery programme with Google.org. 

In November YBI hosted the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Festival, our first wholly-virtual member event. Thank you to everyone who joined us, and congratulations again to all our YBI Awards winners! All sessions are available to stream on the GYEF webpage.

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