Entrepreneurship and Innovation Led by Youth


There’s much buzz around the world these days about harnessing the potential of youth to ignite future economic growth and development. As society’s most idealistic group, they are full of energy and new ideas to start a new venture or challenge the status quo. Yet youth, more often than adults, face myriad of challenges to becoming entrepreneurs.

In this week’s Economic Reform Feature Service article, three winners from CIPE’s 2012 International Youth Essay Competition in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation category, explore various topics about youth entrepreneurship, including: what barriers do young entrepreneurs in their countries face in translating their ideas into products and services? How do young entrepreneurs foster new ways of acting and thinking?

Todor Raykov from Bulgaria discusses about his take on youth entrepreneurship in To Flee or WHEN to Flee?:

  • Following the difficult transition from communism to democracy, entrepreneurship is the most promising way to revive Bulgaria’s faltering economy.
  • In Bulgaria, there is a negative connotation for entrepreneurship as many of  the communist elite transformed into corrupt “entrepreneurs” post-transition. Additionally, Bulgaria faces high levels of “brain drain.” However, in recent years, the Bulgarian government has been trying to inspire a new wave of entrepreneurship with little success.
  • In order to combat these problems, Bulgarian youth need better education along with better job opportunities and a more welcoming environment for entrepreneurs.

In Natalia Korchagina’s essay, Korchagina discusses that:

  • In Russia, there are many challenges to startups, such as a resistance to embracing technological careers by young people and universities, a desire to turn a profit quickly, a fear of failure, and a lack of knowledge or confidence in startups both by potential entrepreneurs and the market.
  • Few young people translate their ideas to action because of risk mitigation, inexperience in innovation, and a cultural mindset in Russia to make do with what is provided, not rock the boat, and work for the collective (not private) good.
  • Russia needs an entrepreneur ecosystem made up of investors, press and education, and young people supporting each other in their work.

Lastly, in Jones Cecil Ntaukira’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Malawi: Beyond Just Technology, Ntaukira explains that:

  • In Malawi, as in much of Africa, there are severe limitations placed on entrepreneurs due to the struggling economy. However, this should not prevent entrepreneurs from achieving their goals which contribute to innovative growth.
  • Young people are the key to driving Malawi’s development, as they are the most likely to create innovative business plans. However, there are many challenges facing young entrepreneurs in Malawi, such as weak intellectual property rights, financial barriers to SMEs, a lack of access to international markets, and a lack of business knowhow.
  • In order to improve the situation for young entrepreneurs, mentorship and training programs in business start-up skills should be created; intellectual property rights should be improved; the business registration process and taxes of SMEs should be reformed; the information and communication technology infrastructure should be improved; and the financial institutions should be more open to young entrepreneurs.

Read all three essays here.