The 2.4 billion young people in the world today represent the largest youth population in history. Further, 90% of the world’s youth live in developing countries, 20% of whom do not have access to education, training, or employment. Research conducted by think thanks and international bodies such as the OECD and G20 has established youth as one of the most at risk, marginalized populations globally. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic crises exacerbated youth unemployment rates in countries such as Jordan, where youth unemployment reached an all-time high of 48.1% in 2021. However, despite being one of the hardest hit groups by the pandemic, youth have become central to recovery efforts by leading innovative approaches and technological solutions to economic, social, and political problems in their countries. As the number of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 continues to grow in developing countries, it is essential that youth have access to meaningful work, education, financial services, civic and political spaces, and leadership opportunities.
The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) recognizes the potential of youth as change agents and believes that youth can — and should — be engaged as key stakeholders to build more resilient and inclusive democracies and markets. Over the last 15 years, CIPE has engaged in numerous youth programs and initiatives aimed at elevating youth voices and providing them with opportunities to make impactful change in their communities. CIPE continuously examines successes and lessons learned from past programs, and in doing so, informs future programming to ensure youth remain a key priority for democratic and economic development. CIPE’s youth programming falls into four main categories: entrepreneurship training and certification programs, nurturing policy leaders, capacity building, and developing resources and guides. Examining CIPE’s key areas of youth programming aims to raise awareness around youth issues, establish youth as a line of work within CIPE programs, explore potential synergies between CIPE’s various regional projects, and foster dialogue with relevant external stakeholders.