Young entrepreneurs as drivers of innovation and job creation for competitive and resilient economies

Young entrepreneurs as drivers of innovation and job creation for competitive and resilient economies

ABU DHABI, 6 November 2019 On the sidelines of the eighteenth session of its General Conference, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) organized a side event on “Young Entrepreneurs as Drivers of Innovation and Job Creation for Competitive and Resilient Economies”.

Inspired by the stories of young entrepreneurs, the event showcased how young entrepreneurs contribute to the modernization of local industries and gain access to new markets by applying their creativity and skills to realize opportunities in a broad scope of areas, including in the agro-based industries and related services - particularly through agripreneurship - and intellectual value addition through industrial design and branding.

“Youth employment and entrepreneurship is an integral component of UNIDO’s mandate”, said UNIDO Director General LI Yong. “To date, our youth portfolio totals USD34 million across 15 countries, with more than 10,500 beneficiaries. In recognition of the importance of youth as drivers of innovation and job creation, UNIDO developed its first Youth Strategy, to integrate youth across the Organization’s strategic priorities and to scale up our impact towards youth employment”.

During the event, participants had the opportunity to learn more UNIDO’s engangement with young entrepreneurs, with examples from UNIDO’s current project portfolio shared, including success stories in the application of industrial design and branding for enhanced competitiveness; in the creation of an enabling environment for youth entrepreneurship and value addition in the agricultural sector; and through targeted youth-sensitive start-up and scale-up support to entrepreneurs. For example, Mr. Silver Tumwesigwe shared his experience of establishing a business in the banana value chain in Uganda, Ms. Sinda Soussia her experience in accessing the local market for cosmetics and organic food products in Tunisia, and Ms. Gudbjörg Rist, winner of the International Award for Agribusiness, shared insights as the CEO of Atmonia, a start-up that is producing fertilizers from air, water and renewable electricity in Iceland.

The event further highlighted how UNIDO joins hands with different partners to maximize the impact of youth entrepreneurship. For example, the launch of the large-scale joint UNIDO-FAO initiative on youth entrepreneurship in agriculture in Africa was highlighted by Mr. Dejene Tezera, Director of the Department for Agri-business. Similarly, Ms. Navruza Jalilova deemed essential for UNHCR to work in cooperation with UNIDO to support the economic inclusion of young refugees through entrepreneurial activities. Mr. Gerhard Hrebicek shared valuable insights as president of the European Brand Institute on how to support youth-led companies to maximize their value through effective branding, and Ms. Maria Namukwambi stressed that financial institutions like Baobab Capital are increasingly expanding the range of services offered to young entrepreneurs in developing countries, including capacity building and development of sustainable business models.

If supported by an enabling ecosystem and provided with the adequate innovative tools, human and technical capacities, young entrepreneurs can significantly contribute to the transformation of communities; generate sustainable livelihoods; and strengthen social cohesion and economic resilience. Ms. Doaa Kazweni from the Arab Youth Center pointed out that no single player can respond to the needs of young entrepreneurs alone, and emphasized the importance of partnerships and collocation to create an enabling environment for youth. The coordinated and coherent engagement of policymakers, the private sector, intermediary support structures, development partners and, most importantly, of youth, has proven instrumental to unleash the potential of youth-led entrepreneurship.

For more information, please contact:

Monica Carco


UNIDO Rural Entrepreneurship, Job Creation and Human Security Division


Farrukh Alimdjanov

Industrial Development Officer

UNIDO Business Environment, Cluster and Innovation Division