William S. Reese is President and CEO of the International Youth Foundation
The launch of the Young Entrepreneurs initiative is great news for 700 young people in Delhi and Mumbai who will learn how to start and grow their own small businesses. It also confirms the growing recognition that public/private partnerships offer the most productive ways to create long-term, sustainable change in our communities.
I am very pleased we are partnering with MasterCard Worldwide in this endeavor. IYF has been engaged in India for over a decade, working with tested partners such as the Community Collective Society for Integrated Development to improve the prospects of India’s young people. And MasterCard has demonstrated its commitment to financial inclusion, through teaching entrepreneurship and financial literacy. Together, we know there are simply not enough jobs in the private sector for the 12 million youth who enter India’s labor market every year to find decent employment. These creative and ambitious young people need alternative ways to support themselves, their families and build their futures. This new initiative means hundreds of emerging young entrepreneurs can build their own businesses, and in many cases provide much needed jobs within their communities.
Each of the world’s 1.2 billion young people holds this same potential to lead productive lives and contribute to society. Yet most don’t have the resources to realize their potential. And let’s face it, time is running out to turn the global demographic youth bulge into an economic and social asset.
IYF recently published “Opportunity for Action: Preparing Youth for 21st Century Livelihoods,” which describes the enormous needs facing today’s young people. It concludes with a call to action that demands that efforts to solve these problems be collective, massive, and global. Young Entrepreneurs serves as a model for what IYF and MasterCard Worldwide, and a growing number of global companies, hope will snowball into a long term commitment to prepare young people everywhere for a decent job or successful business.