Innovation and entrepreneurship of young people are of paramount importance for several reasons. Access to career opportunities for youth to serve as the impetus to economic growth and will also have positive impacts on young people but also on communities. Programs like GYIN provide resources and experiences that foster innovation and entrepreneurship. We are focused on youth because we know they are better able to serve local communities, but also the world.

Why youth innovation and entrepreneurship are important:
ACUA to think it is important
Phelps Stokes

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Why youth innovation and entrepreneurship are important

Despite the growing importance of entrepreneurship for youth job creation and strengthening of economic and social power in an increasingly globalized world, there are nowadays just very few attempts to understand this phenomenon from a juvenile point of view. This weakness has resulted in limited understanding of youth entrepreneurship as a tool to improve the lives of young people and their communities. Given the increasing importance of entrepreneurship and self-employment, there is a considerable need for promotion of youth entrepreneurship as a source of improved living conditions of young people and as a means to support their economic independence.

Many important reasons exist to promote and support initiatives for entrepreneurship among young people (men or women) and in particular among rural youth. Indeed, today the youth unemployment is one of the most important challenges for governments and youth face. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that in Sub-Saharan Africa, about 60 percent of the unemployed are young people aged between 15 and 24, and, on average, 72 percent of the juvenile population lives on less than $ 2 per day. Young people work mainly in agriculture, a sector where they represent 65 percent of the employed.

Given this situation, the promotion of youth entrepreneurship is vital, particularly in rural areas. Even if there is a lack of accurate data on the number of young people currently participating in entrepreneurial activities in developing countries, studies show that many young people are involved actively and successfully in the management of productive and commercial activities. All indications are that the rate of self-employed sub-Saharan Africa is growing. In this region, many companies run by youth have been established and provide the company with goods and services of great value, particularly beneficial to local communities.

International organizations, governments and youth organizations strongly believe that a better control of the potential and capabilities of young people could accelerate growth and reduce poverty. A sound knowledge base is being developed through the efforts of international organizations, NGOs, youth organizations and other stakeholders.  Furthermore the United Nations has declared a “Year of Youth”, which began August 12, 2010. As part of this overall process, numerous events were organized, the first was a meeting on entrepreneurship juvenile and rural micro-enterprises held in Cartagena, Colombia, from 15 to 19 November 2010.

However, while businesses run by young people are growing, many challenges remain, it is crucial to intensify efforts to promote economic empowerment and social support for young people and their entrepreneurial initiatives. These challenges could include:

- Limited recognition of the potential, capabilities and needs of rural youth in institutions and communities

- A culture of “doing for” young people

- The existence of an urban / rural dichotomy, with a tendency to limit the activities of rural agricultural sector, which does not reflect the diverse interests of young productive

- The shortage or lack of assets – capital, property, technical expertise, infrastructure, and adequate wages – is the main limitation of productive activities juveniles

- Low recognition of organizational diversity that characterizes the dynamics of production and micro-entrepreneurial initiatives of young people, limiting their integration into rural development programs

- Limited access to markets pose serious constraints to the growth of new businesses

To continue the dialogue and exchange of experience and knowledge began to Cartagena, a second international event will be held during the week of 10 to 13 October in Cotonou, Benin. This event will focus on lessons learned in Cartagena from entrepreneurship and micro-enterprises juvenile. This will mark a change with the launch of the “Global Youth Innovation Network” (Network of Global Innovations Juvenile), a virtual space that enable young entrepreneurs to learn from their colleagues and share experiences, innovations, and creativity.

Consequently, the aim of this international event, first, to create a space – physical and virtual – or the young, especially those in West and Central Africa, to share experiences, innovations and creativity, learning from each other. Second, the workshop aims to complement the Cartagena meeting, which had encouraged the strengthening of ties of South-South cooperation in the development activities of micro-entrepreneurship. Finally, it aims to capitalize on lessons learned and recommendations from Cartagena to improve policy and decision-making process and ensure more effective targeting investments in operations and for youth.

In Latin-America, the African population is over 150,000 people or 30% of the total population of Latin-America. However, communities of African descent are often missing from official statistics and public policy objectives. They are most often victims of discrimination, lack of access to economic opportunities, social and academic and represent the largest share of the poor. Indeed, the vast majority of Afro-descendants are victims in their own country of racism, marginalization and can meet their basic needs.

For these reasons, ACUA believes it is essential to promote the projects and actions to develop and empower these communities by developing their cultural assets as a means to improve their living conditions and income generation.

Since its inception four years ago, the foundation has sponsored ACUA surveys, academic research, and exchanges of experience to empower and reduce poverty among rural communities of African descent in Latin-America and their allow recovery of their cultural property.

Since its inception ACUA is a foundation funded by IFAD (International Fund for Agricultural Development) and supervised by the Latin-America and the Caribbean. We work together with IFAD and our mandate is in line with the main objectives of this international organization include the financing of agricultural development projects to improve food security and nutrition, increase revenues and build resilience.

ACUA has worked with rural communities of African descent at the regional level and to contribute to the creation of a new institution for the rural able to coordinate efforts to reduce poverty and improve living conditions of rural populations in Latin America.

Indeed, the ACUA project intended to promote economic and social development of black communities in Latin-America and of their cultural property, which are often based on the knowledge and agricultural practices and seek added value to these products. In this way, the ACUA projects are still rooted in agricultural practices (palm trees, timber, cocoa, medicinal plants etc..) And to evaluate the production line to produce products for that with added value from traditional knowledge and culture (handicrafts, traditional instruments, processing of medicinal plants for food, etc. …). In its activities, ACUA focused and pays special attention to youth entrepreneurship and to promote their involvement in community initiatives that provide cultural knowledge transfer from generation to generation.

ACUA participation in global innovation networks of young people strongly contributes to pursue the objectives of this organization and allows the foundation to expand its network to Africa and to strengthen cultural and economic bridges between the two continents. In an aim to make visible the Afro-descendant and contribute to the promotion of this culture, these actions are essential. In addition, it provides a unique opportunity for young entrepreneurs who are suffering from lack of access to education and economic opportunities to share knowledge, practices and experiences with their peers in Africa and learn from others.


Palmares Cultural Foundation fosters the development of Afro-Colombian communities by enhancing their cultural aspects, in both rural and urban areas. It is our belief that culture is fully recognized as a means of ensuring employment and a better quality of life and we believe that the poorest and least served are the key to developing local, regional and global levels.

Following treatment that Africa has undergone through the centuries sinc, the Afro-descendant was excluded socially, economically and politically. In Brazil, Afro-descendants are not only the majority of those in poverty, but also facing racism, lack of access to formal education, and neglect of their civil rights. Young blacks suffer more due to the lack of opportunities and support.

Palmares is committed to help build a society that encourages entrepreneurship among young people, where we believe they are better equipped to transform their culture is rich in profitable economic activities. With this spirit of commitment, in 2010 we co-organized a conference on the use of plants in traditional medicine, as well as the first national meeting on tourism in quilombos, which are mostly rural community descending fugitive slaves. In its participation in the political debates and public forums, Palmares defends the role of culture in the economy, always with the motto of youth participation.

Palmares is a partner of the Global Youth Innovation Network so that it can learn from others and bring experience and energy to give young people the tools they need to become leaders in their communities and overcome poverty.

Phelps Stokes
Since its inception a century ago, Phelps Stokes has sponsored research and development in Africa. Phelps Stokes programs are designed to empower and to target the poor and marginalized, both in the Americas and Africa. Phelps Stokes mobilizes knowledge, skills, information and technology to promote healthy communities and strong leaders, especially marginalized groups.

The work of Phelps Stokes complete IFAD’s mandate and activities, particularly in agricultural skills development, economic and entrepreneurial juveniles, rural populations and marginalized groups, thereby reducing poverty in the future. The partnership will allow both agencies to combine their complementary instruments of financial and technical assistance to achieve greater synergy and increase the impact of their programs, especially those related to agricultural development and youth entrepreneurship.

Phelps Stokes has extensive experience in the implementation of agricultural projects and the implementation of projects in Africa and other underdeveloped communities worldwide.

Phelps Stokes promotes and supports leadership development, education and training, research and extension, project management and support policy and institutional capacity building activities for agriculture and food security through implementation of consolidated centers of excellence in universities, youth organizations and agricultural research and training centers in Africa.

Phelps Stokes draws on IFAD already planning significant programmatic and organizational efforts to integrate broad areas of capacity building, training and research and with excellent pro-poor accountability mechanism to improve agricultural production and production (including livestock, aquaculture, etc.), secure access to natural resources management, improving access to wide range of financial products and services, production technologies and improving the work of economy, rural infrastructure (market infrastructure along the value chain, etc.), supporting community initiatives and capacity building resilience of farmers (women, youth and men and indigenous peoples) and farmer-based organization to copy with the uncertainties of climate change and also to engage in political dialogue at all levels. In addition to these efforts Phelps Stokes promotes youth empowerment in the agricultural sector, especially among young emerging leaders, entrepreneurs, young illiterate, drops school, young women, and college and university students.

This is a critical success factor in the development strategy for food security, poverty reduction and economic empowerment in Africa. The empowerment of this segment of the population is to acquire the necessary knowledge, values ​​and skills through a system that focuses on three central elements:

- Excellence in education, agricultural training and leadership
- Local, national and international community service
- The citizen action and service learning
In this model, youth organizations serving the agricultural sector in certain geographic areas are centers of excellence in agricultural education, entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, leadership development and service learning. Phelps Stokes assumed that, in addition to their function as institutions of education and research, young entrepreneurs play a key role as engines of economic development and social change in their communities of influence.

To make it operational, Phelps Stokes is focused on national and international partnerships and exchanges between Phelps Stokes and IFAD for the design of programs, applied research, policy, education and agricultural training, developing leadership, policy advocacy, service learning.

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