What can be done to support young entrepreneurs for the SDGs?

Preluding the High-Level Political Forum 2017, SDSN Youth and TSIC created a policy brief outlining key recommendations for policy-makers to advance youth innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Here follows the second post in a series of three outlining how to support youth-led innovation for the SDGs.

Building on the challenges and opportunities from our last post, a wide variety of tools and initiatives can be designed to support youth-led solutions on the SDGs at all levels. These instruments can be grouped around three main areas, namely access to funding, access to expertise and networks, and increased visibility.

Increase funding through investments and policy initiatives

Improving funding availability for solutions is a critical intervention point for supporting young people’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda.  These interventions could be implemented through a variety of initiatives, and should call upon stakeholders beyond just the private sector:

  • Create more investment opportunities for youth solutions
  • Establish innovation grants, awards and prizes for young innovators
  • Develop other policy initiatives to support innovators’ access to funding
  • Develop national and regional funds for youth-led innovation

Take advantage of existing and emerging capacity-building and education tools.

The concept of education for sustainable development has been widely recognised and adopted by academia and amongst young innovators themselves. In this context, internet access constitutes the main vehicle for online learning and access to educational content for many communities, in developing countries and developed countries alike. At the same time however, other stakeholders have often failed to realise the potential of a broader uptake of the opportunities linked with better education for sustainable development, and specifically of its use as a capacity-building tool for young innovators and entrepreneurs. Thus, there is a need to:

  • Develop effective innovation incubators and acceleration programmes
  • Ensure widespread uptake and dissemination of online learning tools
  • Promote education on SDG-oriented impact assessment

Improve visibility of youth solutions and access to networks

The heightened awareness of governments and other stakeholders of the presence and value of youth-led innovation for the SDGs can lead to new opportunities for these solutions to grow and scale. Although usually overlooked, increased opportunities for visibility and more effective means of connecting young innovators with potential partners is often essential in determining the success of new solutions. Thus, young innovators and stakeholder alike should:

  • Develop functioning mapping tools to connect innovators and partners
  • Encourage cooperation with community groups, NGOs and other local stakeholders
  • Take advantage of the opportunities of media campaigns and public showcasing

It is now up to policymakers, investors, young entrepreneurs and stakeholders to take these recommendations and implement them.

This post was only a short summary of the second half of the policy brief. If you are interested you can read the full policy brief here. Otherwise, stay tuned for the next post in our short series on youth innovation for the SDGs.

The Social Investment Consultancy (TSIC) is a social change strategy consultancy. We enable our clients and the wider sector to rethink and evolve their approaches to delivering social impact. Follow us on Twitter: @TSIClondon or visit our website: www.tsiconsultancy.com for more information about what we do and who we are.

SDSN Youth educates young people about the challenges of sustainable development and creates opportunities for them to use their creativity and knowledge to pioneer innovative solutions for the SDGs. Follow SDSN Youth on Twitter: @SDSNYouth or visit their website: www.sdsnyouth.org for more information about their initiatives.

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