Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2022: A member’s experience

At last month’s Global Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2022 in The Hague, Hatch Enterprise’s CEO Dirk Bischoff was one of over 170 delegates coming together to create a collaborative approach to overcoming the barriers facing young entrepreneurs and unleash a force for good. Dirk has kindly shared his experience as a delegate at the Summit with us, accompanied by photographs from the Summit by Jacqueline Sibon of our Dutch member Qredits.

Hatch Enterprise joined the YBI network in 2021 but have been in the business since 2014,  supporting entrepreneurs from diverse and underrepresented communities to grow smart ideas into successful, profitable, and sustainable businesses that have a positive impact on their communities. 

We had the pleasure to attend Youth Business International’s Global 2022 Summit in The Hague from Monday – Thursday. It truly felt like the whole world had come together in one space as we had people from all continents and from many more countries than I could remember. What I do remember is the feeling I arrived with. I was excited to be part of an international community again, after almost 10 years where I focused exclusively on work in the UK, mainly because we needed to be really laser-focused on delivering impact to founders, whilst building a sustainable and innovative organisation that can stand the test of time.

This meant I had to let go of all my international work when founding Hatch in 2013. I was always sad about this as I really enjoyed sharing our work and what we do with others, learning from others about their work, their methodologies to deliver impact and ultimately sharing best practices across a range of topics. This was the benefit of international work that I always valued, alongside meeting people from different cultures, social and economic backgrounds, visiting different places across Europe (15+ countries between 2004 – 2013) and shaping my understanding of what unites us around common challenges.

My excitement to be at an international conference was well-supported by the excellent organisation of the event by the YBI team and hosting partners. I’ve been to Holland many times, often for work as we had Dutch partners but also to visit friends and recently also former colleagues, who I kept in touch with. The Hague struck me as a very cultured, well-off, tidy and culturally diverse city. Way fewer tourists than Amsterdam but just as many bikes.

We arrived by Eurostar, minding our CO2 emissions when travelling internationally, walking to our hotel once we arrived in The Hague. We stayed close to the venue, a Dutch museum of picture & sound (Beeld & Geluid), which made for an excellent venue for a truly diverse international audience. After dumping our bags, we immediately stumbled into the Japanese delegation at the hotel. We already spoke a few times earlier in the year as we started to reach out to YBI members to understand their work better. The Japanese delegation came from YBI’s member ETIC, an enterprise support organisation in Japan focusing on social entrepreneurs and young founders.They’ve been around for 30 years and have recently started exploring self-management across the organisation, something we’re very interested in too. We decided to meet everyone else at the Irish Pub (imagine droves of people from all over the world descending onto a local Irish pub in The Hague). That was fun and we finally met the organisers, many more partners and supporters. What a great welcome and first day-experience.

Over the coming days we would participate in a number of workshops, panel discussions, networking events and meetings that really brought the work of YBI and its partners to life. Youth entrepreneurship is something I am really passionate about as Hatch started as a youth enterprise support programme, back in the day. Hatch has supported young founders from the get-go because we deeply believe in the power of entrepreneurship and teaching people as early on in their careers as possible. I delivered youth enterprise programmes in my time before Hatch because then I was still a ‘young entrepreneur’, someone under the age of 35. Having been a young entrepreneur myself I understand how critical the support by the various member organisations is to help prospective founders overcome the many barriers and challenges that exist when starting a business or social enterprise. Yes, starting a business can be very lonely, you often don’t have the right (business) skills, lack access to support and access to networks, figuring out how to build a business whilst delivering value to customers through a product or service isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea either. As such, coming together with not just a few, but so many enterprise support organisations from across the world was beyond inspirational, it felt relevant, opportune and somehow ‘just right’, after a nearly 10-year hiatus. 

Coming together with not just a few, but so many enterprise support organisations from across the world was beyond inspirational, it felt relevant, opportune and somehow ‘just right’.

Over the few days we spent together, we also started shaping what some of the work would look like across the European members, something I’m especially happy about as the UK feels very isolated now from our friends in Europe since Brexit. Building bridges to other nations is so important as international dialogue is critical in an ever-more connected world. We’ve seen what happens when countries need to cooperate to manage one crisis after another. We’ve had the COVID-19 pandemic, we have the ongoing war in Ukraine, all of which have required international collaboration. Being back in the room with many partners from across the Channel enabled a greater understanding of their work, where they see trends in youth entrepreneurship going, how delivery methods have changed with increased digitisation and how employment trends are shaping the way we deliver work, with hybrid working being standardised across most organisations. 

Being back in the room with many partners from across the Channel enabled a greater understanding of their work.

My colleague Deryl Thatcher, Hatch’s Head of Partnerships, got really involved in the conference hosting day two, together with Naho from ETIC. They’re both born entertainers and MCs and they did a brilliant job of engaging the audience of over 150 people. Hatch likes to get stuck-in and contribute and collaborate, it’s one of our core values to connect people and opportunities to each other.

Being a passive observer versus being an active participant is a choice many countries, companies and individuals make all the time. Being an active participant means you put yourself out there, contributing insights, clarifying points, steering conversations and expressing opinions. This is necessary when engaging in international dialogue as there are more barriers than just those facing young entrepreneurs to overcome. Cultural understanding and clarifying is necessary and that can only happen through an active exchange of concepts and ideas. Creating shared meaning is a hallmark of ensuring that understanding between different parties can be facilitated. As such, both Deryl and myself put ourselves ‘out there’, engaging with as many people as we could across the four days, which was reciprocated pretty much by everyone else too. This was something that isn’t necessarily a given, as conferences can be quite stale and boring. This one was the total opposite. 

Conferences can be quite stale and boring. This one was the total opposite.

We also got to engage with some of our partners such as Google.org, Standard Chartered Foundation and Accenture. They are YBI and YBI ecosystem supporters and important partners in our joined-up efforts to deliver enterprise support programmes across the various continents and countries, not to thousands of founders but to hundreds of thousands of founders. That is something that is only possible through connected, aligned networks with strong, resilient and well-placed organisations in each of the countries. To build-up, maintain and grow such networks is never easy and I am very happy to be part of YBI who’s doing an amazing job of bringing so many people and organisations together.  

Here’s a big shout-out and thank you to the whole team at YBI, the hosting partners and a big thank you also to all the amazing international partners and members we were able to meet.

Here’s to more international collaboration!

Hatch supports underrepresented entrepreneurs from across the UK to imagine, launch and grow businesses that are sustainable, successful and have a positive and lasting impact on their communities. They are committed to building a fairer society by helping develop entrepreneurs’ skills, knowledge and confidence through our unique programmes designed by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. We’re not typical of the third sector. Although they’re a charity, they think and act like a business, and since 2014 have supported more than 6,700 UK entrepreneurs to flourish, building a vibrant network of partners, funders and investors who share their vision in the process. You can find out more about Hatch here.

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