Promoting inclusive entrepreneurship for social development
Recognised as a significant platform for youth in the Asia-Pacific region, the Youth Co:Lab Summit 2023 held in Bangkok from July 12 to 14 saw 26 teams of young entrepreneurs from 20 countries present social business ideas on the theme “Inclusive Entrepreneur.”
Experts, private sector organisations, investors, and government representatives from various international entities attended the event, which was organised by the Citi Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of supporting and empowering young people in addressing the challenges faced by the world today.
It is estimated that approximately 160 million young people lack opportunities for education or decent livelihoods due to various social inequalities and economic uncertainties, a number that continues to grow as disparities increase.
To address these challenges and support the potential of young people, including those from vulnerable and marginalized groups, the Citi Foundation and UNDP established the Youth Co:Lab project in 2017.
“This year, we’ve chosen to focus on inclusive entrepreneurship,” said Renaud Meyer, the UNDP's deputy resident representative. “The idea is to empower young people in the Asia Pacific and prepare them to become professionals that contribute to not only their economic well-being but also to society, while also becoming agents of change. It’s a double objective of making young people empowered so that they themselves can empower the communities they come from. And from what we have observed, this generation of youth, they are not at all selfish, they understand that their success depends on the ecosystem that they operate in.”
Asked about the skills the organisers hope to see in youths that are soon to enter the workforce, Narumon Chivangkur, Thailand Citi country officer and the Citi Foundation representative said: "Having two essential skills is crucial. The first skill is 'life skills.' It may sound simple, but in today's rapidly changing world with various innovations and technologies, knowing how to navigate life is more important than ever. Living a fulfilling life and actively participating in a progressive society requires us to adapt and stay updated.
“The second essential skill is 'financial literacy.' Learning how to manage finances and plan for the future is vital. It empowers us to make informed decisions, invest wisely, and secure a stable financial future."
The Youth Co:Lab project currently operates in 28 countries and has provided support to more than 255,000 young people throughout the Asia-Pacific region.