YBI and the Citi Foundation have supported over 17,000 young entrepreneurs across Europe

In 2014, Mohamed came to Belgium from Syria. As a refugee, he felt he could only dream of opening his own restaurant while he worked in kitchens in Ghent. His vision of a restaurant which would allow him to share his culture with his new community propelled him to work hard and learn the Dutch language quickly. He was sure that Belgian people would love the spices and flavours of Syrian food.

This dream became a possibility when he reached out to microStart, Youth Business International (YBI)’s member in Belgium. They gave him access to entrepreneurship training, a specialised mentor and eventually a partly interest-free loan. He ended up opening a successful catering company and at the age of 23 he began catering to large events.

Unfortunately, Mohamed’s story is not common. Many young people struggle to start their own business. For young people from a migrant background in particular, there are multiple challenges and barriers to overcome. Research shows that access to finance, skills training and ongoing mentoring are pivotal to enabling more young entrepreneurs like Mohamed to thrive.

In 2015, in partnership with the Citi Foundation, YBI launched Youth Business Europe, a regional programme that brings together YBI members in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden, to equip underserved youth with the tools needed to start a business and thrive in today’s economy. Over the past two years, nine organisations in these countries have worked together closely to share knowledge, best practice and methodologies to tackle young unemployment in Europe, so that other potential entrepreneurs like Mohamed can fulfil their true potential.

The impact of Youth Business Europe has been impressive. Over the past two years, the programme has provided 17,307 youth with integrated support, 4,063 youth-led businesses have been started or strengthened, and 3,731 jobs have been created. The programme has also had a positive impact on the nine members involved. They all improved the quality of their programmes through developing new models and approaches, from new training on regional markets in Sweden to introducing e-learning in Belgium and France. Several members were also able to scale their programmes, reaching new target groups or new geographic areas. Finally, the programme has developed a dynamic and innovative regional network based on trusted relationships and sparking collaboration on a number of new, joint initiatives.

As part of our renewed partnership with the Citi Foundation, we are looking forward to building on and celebrating the achievements to date. This new partnership includes members in Russia and Kazakhstan and will support a further 4,500 underserved youth to access the support they need to become successful entrepreneurs. It will include a particular focus on supporting more young women into entrepreneurship – recognising the significant barriers they often face. 

We look forward to sharing the learning and achievements of this partnership.

Supported By

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