Celebrating Inclusivity and Why It Matters

Anita Tiessen
Anita Tiessen Chief Executive Officer Youth Business International

This week (15-19 May), we are celebrating inclusive youth entrepreneurship at Youth Business International.  
Inclusion is now, more than ever, central to debates in international development and critical to achieving genuine and sustainable development impact.  
While economic inclusion has always been at the heart of Youth Business International’s mission, the last few years have opened all our eyes to what being excluded looks like. Social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too, have been instrumental in bringing to the fore examples of marginalisation on the basis of race and/or gender.  
These movements and the events and experiences they highlighted were a wake-up call for many of us – at Youth Business International they gave us pause to think more deeply about how to genuinely embed inclusion for all young entrepreneurs across our global network. 

At the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit this week, I’ll be sharing YBI’s experience of inclusive youth entrepreneurship. In addition to participating in a panel discussion on ‘Intersectional Inclusion’, alongside Sightsavers and Isirika Social Enterprise, on 16 May, I will be joining our partner, Accenture, and our member,Futurpreneur, to host a workshop on ‘What Works To Drive Inclusive Youth Entrepreneurship, with a focus on Indigenous Young People’ on 17 May.

Inclusive entrepreneurship matters to Youth Business International. Our network is diverse and spans almost 50 countries with unique cultural contexts and , as an organisation and as individuals, we wholeheartedly embrace equality of opportunity for all young people and an inclusive approach is integral to this.  

Why is this important? 

When young people succeed as entrepreneurs, they create new jobs and decent work, strengthen communities and economies, and generate opportunities for themselves and others. While they may start out as seeking solutions to the problems they see in their communities and the world around them, when they successfully bring new ideas to market they can change the landscape for those around them, unlock economic growth and open up avenues to more prosperous futures. 
Youth entrepreneurship is an enduring solution to a persistent global youth unemployment crisis that has been made worse by the long tail of the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be transformative, and establishing inclusivity is vital for ensuring every individual has an equal opportunity to succeed. 

That’s why we are committed to developing tools and resources to drive inclusive entrepreneurship. Our current work includes:  

  • In partnership with Sightsavers, we’re working with our members to develop and test a comprehensive set of resources designed to remove barriers faced by entrepreneurs with disabilities
  • Launching a discovery phase with our members to determine the work needed to be done around increasing resources for supporting LGBTQI+ young entrepreneurs. We will take the insights gathered from our first discovery session to continue to design better learning and practice around LGBTQI+ inclusivity
  • Co-developing resources to create a suite of materials that can help members improve, understand and implement practices at an organisational and programmatic level to support improved outcomes for young women entrepreneurs
  • With our member, Futurpreneur, convened an Indigenous Entrepreneurship Working Group to develop a framework that outlines how Indigenous Peoples can be best supported to start and grow their own businesses 

Throughout this week of celebrating inclusivity, we’ll be sharing examples of inclusive youth entrepreneurship and what’s happening at YBI to advance this important agenda. Do follow us on our social channels to hear from my YBI colleagues about what they are doing to drive inclusive youth entrepreneurship. Through blogs and videos, they will be bringing to life the steps we are taking to improve accessibility to entrepreneurship for all young people.  

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