Author Archives: Molly Brister

How To Support Youth Entrepreneurship


Around the world, youth unemployment represents a significant challenge to countries’ economic and social prosperity. According to the World Economic Forum, youth comprise 40 percent of the world’s unemployed. Globally, the youth unemployment rate is more than double that of adult unemployment: 12.6 percent for youth compared to 4.5 percent for adults. On a personal level, the story of Mohammed Bouazizi—the Tunisian fruit vendor whose tragic death sparked the Arab spring—continues to resonate with people around the world struggling to find economic opportunity.

Many factors contribute to the challenging economic landscape confronting young jobseekers, including lack of quality education, the global economic crisis, resource shortages, and more. One underlying factor, however, is that the public sector—traditionally a primary engine of employment in many countries—is unable to keep up with demand. Instead, young people endure chronic unemployment or underemployment, often trapped in temporary or low-productivity jobs.

One important solution to these complex issues is to build young people’s entrepreneurial capacity. Entrepreneurship provides much needed alternatives for those in need of work, while also reinvigorating countries’ economies through job creation. Entrepreneurship can lead young people to become more active members of their communities, invested in creating a better and more innovative environment for their business.

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Fifth Annual CIPE International Youth Essay Competition Winners Announced

CIPE is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual International Youth Essay competition today. This year we received more than 300 entries from 62 countries, including Belarus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Jamaica, Paraguay, and Russia. The three categories this year were Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Inclusive Growth, and Social Transformations. The winners were selected by an international panel of judges including CIPE’s partners from business associations, think tanks, and other international development organizations around the world, as well as CIPE staff.

Past winners have gone on to publish a book with their winnings, start a similar contest in Romania, and found an NGO in Ghana focused on youth, garnering media attention from the likes of the Wall Street Journal. Keep an eye on these rising stars as they continue a tradition of excellence.

Grand Prize winner – Democracy that Delivers for Entrepreneurs:

Chandrima Padmanabhan (India) “Entrepreneurship in India: The Evolution of the Pedestrian Pariah.” Chandrima will attend CIPE’s Democracy that Delivers for Entrepreneurs conference on April 9-10 in Chicago.

Grand prize winner Chandrima Padmanabhan

Grand prize winner Chandrima Padmanabhan

Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Beyond technology

1st place: Todor Raykov (Bulgaria) “To Flee or WHEN to Flee?”

1st place winner in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation category Todor Raykov

1st place winner in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation category Todor Raykov

2nd place: Natalia Korchagina (Russia) “Making Ideas Happen. Helping Ideas Succeed”

3rd place: Jones Cecil Ntaukira (Malawi) “The Great Miracle: Occupy Youth Entrepreneurship”

Inclusive Growth: The entrepreneurial environment for scaling up business

1st place: Obed Ankrah (Ghana) “Promoting Inclusive Growth: the Entrepreneurial Environment for  Scaling up Business”

Ankrah Obed

1st place winner in the Inclusive Growth category Obed Ankrah

2nd place: Anna Grishkina (Russia) “Opportunities into results”

3rd place: Ngutor Saaka (Nigeria) “Inclusive Growth: The entrepreneurial environment for scaling up business – a panacea for youth unemployment in Nigeria”

Social transformations: The role of entrepreneurs in building democratic societies

1st place:  Prince Karakire Guma (Uganda) “Fostering Democracy in Uganda: The Unexplored Contributions of Young Entrepreneurs”

Prince Karakire Guma

1st place winner in the Social Transformations category Prince Karakire Guma

2nd place: Surath Giri (Nepal) “Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for Fostering Entrepreneurship: Lessons from Nepal”

3rd place: Nivya Murthi (India) “Youth Social Entrepreneurship for building a stronger India”

The winning essays will continue to be published as Economic Reform Feature Service articles, and winners will be profiled on the CIPE Development Blog in the coming months. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who entered!

Indigenous Women and the Fight for Economic Inclusion in Peru


Last October U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Peru. Clinton’s Peru trip barely made the headlines, but her remarks deserve attention and continue to ring true worldwide, especially in Latin America.

On her agenda: discussing bilateral and regional cooperation and delivering a keynote on women’s financial inclusion. In her remarks, she emphasized that economic strength is derived from social inclusion, and “at the heart of social inclusion [is] a commitment to women and girls.” But unfortunately the world’s attention was elsewhere, caught up in controversy over Libya and other regional priorities.

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Economic Inclusion, Democracy, and the Arab Spring

Examples of some of the informal legal documents used by "extralegal" businesses in the Arab world. (Source: ILD)

Examples of some of the informal legal documents used by “extralegal” businesses in the Arab world. (Source: ILD)

On December 17, 2010, police expropriated the equipment and goods of a fruit seller in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Because of his informal status, the fruit seller had no option of appeal or avenue for official protest. He also had no collateral to secure a loan to buy new equipment, let alone grow his business. With no means of supporting his family of seven, the man now world famous for lighting the first spark of the Arab Spring, Mohammed Bouazizi, committed suicide by self immolation.

Bouazizi’s tragedy stemmed from an affront to his dignity, an absence of justice, and economic disenfranchisement. He was not alone. As the following months unfolded, it became clear just how many businesspersons and citizens across the region shared these same grievances when hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand political and economic freedom.

Since then over two years have passed and Tunisians, Egyptians, and Libyans have experienced the unprecedented democratic elections and the chance to choose their own leaders. But free and fair elections, even at their best, are only half the battle.

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Innovation Through Crowdsourcing: Access to Finance, Access to People


Within the last five years, crowdsourcing has risen as new phenomena both in the business world and in international development. Coined by Jeff Howe in WIRED magazine, the term crowdsourcing traditionally refers to using free or low-cost information or labor from a “crowd” to accomplish a task.

The innovative potential of this tool is impressive. Around the world crowdsourcing technologies have facilitated new ways to connect services with clients, track protests, fund businesses, map disasters, and more.

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Empowering Women = Economic Growth

(Chart: The Economist)

Supporting economic growth is an important and overarching goal for all countries worldwide. How countries go about doing so, however, particularly in the developing world, is a subject of much debate.

Take Egypt for example. Many academics, government officials, and economists have proposed solutions to Egypt’s economic woes that involve cutting subsidies, increasing exports, and supporting entrepreneurship.

But a recent report by Booz and Company (as reported on by the Economist) indicates that there is one simple answer: women.

According to the report, if female employment rates matched those of men, Egypt’s GDP would grow 34 percent by 2020. While that is impressive on its own, imagine if other necessary reforms also took place, such as tackling Egypt’s food subsidies, or increasing Egyptian exports.

Egypt’s case is salient because of its largely untapped pool of female labor—Egypt’s female labor-participation rate is below 30 percent. But Egypt is not alone in the vast economic benefits possible by employing men and women at equal levels.

For instance India, the world’s second most populous country, has much to gain by employing more women. The Booz report indicates that India’s GDP would grow over 25 percent by 2020 if female employment matched male employment. Similarly, even countries solidly in the “developed country” category such as the United States, Britain, and France would see their GDP grow by 4 or 5 percent.

While this exercise may be hypothetical, it is certainly illustrative of the broader economic benefits of employing women. Women’s unemployment is not just a “women’s” problem. With the numbers behind them, countries that get behind empowering women in the workplace stand achieve significant economic gains, delivering more economic benefits to all.

Social Entrepreneurship: Between Business and Activism

Riders for Health (Photo: ICCLab)

Throughout history, activists and thinkers have approached social problems and important causes with new ideas and ways of doing things. In the mid-1800’s, Florence Nightingale founded modern nursing and made unprecedented steps to improve hospital conditions.  1951, activist Vinoba Bhave — a follower of Mahatma Ghandi — attempted a massive land reform effort in India, progressing India’s national dialogue about land reform and social equality. It was not until the last two decades, however, that a term emerged for this kind of innovator: we know them today as social entrepreneurs.

Social entrepreneurs are unique from their traditional counterparts because their goal is not just to make a profit, but also to address a pressing social issue through innovative, sustainable approaches and solutions. As PBS puts it, “The job of a social entrepreneur is to recognize when a part of society is stuck and to provide new ways to get it unstuck.”

Not all activists, or those that believe passionately in a cause, are social entrepreneurs. Just as they are unique from traditional entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs are different from traditional activists. Instead of focusing on advocacy or awareness, social entrepreneurs provide sustainable solutions to real issues. As a post on — a site for “inspiring, empowering, and connecting entrepreneurs” — points out, “an activist might only become a social entrepreneur if he or she further develops his or her activism into a sustainable solution that will allow them to address the issues at hand.”

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