Business leaders say entrepreneurship must be the backbone of future policy solutions if Asia’s youth boom is to bring collective benefits to the region.
Delegates at a Commonwealth workshop in Singapore have recognised that young aspiring entrepreneurs face serious challenges setting up businesses, ranging from securing funding to tackling red tape around licenses and acquisitions.
Attendees called for decisive policymaking to help ensure young people have the soft and hard skills needed to start-up their own enterprises and create jobs.
The Commonwealth hosted the workshop on ‘developing national youth entrepreneurship policies’ in partnership with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Singapore's National Youth Council. Delegates came from seven Commonwealth countries in Asia and Australia, as well as from Bhutan, Indonesia, Nepal and the Philippines.
The Commonwealth showcased its policy guide on youth entrepreneurship in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Singaporean officials offered a practical experience to delegates, which has revolutionised the start-up culture in the country. Local youth organisations, such as the Heartware Network, presented how they have supported thousands of young people to become successful entrepreneurs through mentorship.
Sushil Ram, a programme manager in the Commonwealth’s Social Policy Section, spoke at the workshop.
He said: “It is a priority for the Commonwealth to find new ways of creating jobs and developing skills for the youth.
“Supporting youth entrepreneurship will not only help establish new businesses but will create new jobs for young people, so they can contribute positively to the development of their community, country and region.”
Delegates focused on how adopting innovative approaches and policy interventions can help support young entrepreneurs in the region.
Erum Masood, media and Asia adviser at the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network, said: “I feel optimistic that such engagements are an opportunity to bring young entrepreneurs and other key stakeholders together to tackle the challenges of start-ups and social enterprises and take forward a more cohesive and systematic approach to entrepreneurship.”
Delegates underlined that youth entrepreneurship and employment must be at the forefront of discussions, given that more than 60 per cent of the Commonwealth population is aged 29 and under. They committed to developing targeted action plans and sharing best practices among the countries, supported by the Commonwealth.
Ahead of the workshop, Asian young entrepreneurs attended an annual meeting of the Commonwealth Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs-Asia (CAYE-Asia).
CAYE Asia plays an important role in enhancing economic participation for young people in the areas of advocacy, business development and youth entrepreneurship. At the meeting, they discussed existing trends within the region, built networks and exchanged good practices.