Entrepreneurship as a path for youth on the move

Christina Kappaz
Christina Kappaz Director of Strategic Projects Youth Business International

Youth on the move are 18-35 year-olds who have been displaced through forced or unforced migration and may face a disadvantage in their host community.

There are tens of millions of youth across the globe who have been displaced by violence or forced to leave their homes behind to seek economic opportunities. When they arrive to new locations, securing a means to generate income is a priority but requires overcoming numerous challenges. Many face legal restrictions that prevent them from gaining formal employment. Language barriers and negative stereotypes toward outsiders make it difficult to find a job, as do the lack of a social or professional network and an understanding of how to navigate the local job market. 
Entrepreneurship is a viable route to employment for many youth on the move, both because of the challenges to finding other types of employment and because so many youth on the move are well suited to it due to their drive and tenacity. According to our research, on average, they are more likely to start businesses than their native-born peers, and many pursue entrepreneurship as an opportunity, rather than out of necessity. 

For youth on the move, entrepreneurship can promote self-reliance and help them integrate into society. 

It offers an opportunity for meaningful work, helping them lead their lives with dignity and give back to their communities. Starting or running a business can give individuals a greater sense of autonomy and well-being and improve their social status within host communities. Entrepreneurship training programmes can be important socialising mechanisms for both personal recovery and integration too, while mentorship, networking and skills development can help overcome soft barriers to integration and starting a business, such as fear and low self-confidence.  
Youth on the move’s entrepreneurial success brings several economic and social benefits to their host countries. These young people can invigorate stagnating sectors in their host country with new skills and energy, and develop new markets based on ethnic niches and networks. They strengthen trade links within and between their home and host countries, and further contribute to their home economies through remittances, investment, or starting new businesses via circular and return migration. 
Entrepreneurship also offers a route for young people to contribute to a better world. Many youth on the move are socially conscious of the challenges facing the world and their communities and are motivated to make an impact as social entrepreneurs. 
Learn more about YBI’s findings and recommendations on how to make entrepreneurship accessible to refugees and other migrants and displaced youth by reading our latest report: Beating the odds: Supporting youth on the move to become successful entrepreneurs 

Other Articles

View all

Empowering the future


YBI launches Empower and Elevate Programme to support inclusive youth-led businesses that create jobs


Growing our global network of members to expand our impact on youth entrepreneurship