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Barriers of entry of youth into the realm of entrepreneurship

Dec 06,2018 - Last updated at Dec 06,2018

In an economy with close to 19 per cent unemployment, strategies must shift from solely creating jobs at current companies to allowing individuals to create companies, which in turn hire other individuals, boost the economy, reach untapped targets and increase competition, thus increasing quality. In a country where 70 per cent of the population is under the age of 30, a major focus would be tackling the barriers of the youth’s entry into the realm of entrepreneurship.

Many civic society and government organisations are addressing the segment that teaches youth how to build on ideas they have and access funding. But why are many of these start-ups not lasting past the three-year mark and what can we do to ensure their sustainability? That directly correlates with the barriers of entry preventing them from entrepreneurship in the first place.

There need to be platforms that fund all ideas and not just those within a certain scope of the most pressing or universally-funded issues at the time. The Google definition of the word innovative means “introducing new ideas; original and creative in thinking”. We need to provide funding mechanisms that allow for youth to truly dream and think out of the box of normally funded activities. Our youth need not to solely target their projects based on ideas and scopes funded at the current time, but on innovative ideas that hit home and allow for the reproduction of genuine, heartfelt solutions that solve issues that stem from pain they are facing. Funders need to focus more on widening the range of funded activities that focus on funding issues that are faced nationally and locally. In order for an idea to be innovative, it does not necessarily need to be new, it could be unique in its angle of tackling an issue and we need to allow for platforms which support that.

An important recommendation is that corporate social responsibility activities should not just fund local initiatives for tax purposes, but take them under their wing to ensure the success of these initiatives through their expertise. You do not necessarily need to have an incubator service to do so. Whether you work in telecoms, pharmaceuticals, aviation, etc., you work in a big enough industry to provide that diverse kind of support. I am talking about local partnership that supports unique ideas then lets them fly on their own.

The Jordan Vision 2025 is over a 120-page document that discusses the challenges that the country faces and the ways to tackle them. The private sector and local funding organisations should expand their areas of focus to empower youth to create sustainable solutions to the Jordan Vision 2025 and many existing ones like it. It is everyday individuals who will be able to make these visions become a reality, so why not empower the youth with the tools to do so.

Bureaucratic decision making is another issue. If certain decisions were made at a faster rate, with less bureaucracy and paperwork, the youth would continue tapping into the innovative part of themselves rather than focusing their energy most on addressing bureaucracy. Part of that bureaucracy includes market-entry regulations that take so much time and are costly for youth. We need to truly think about what ease of access negulations we have in place to encourage youth entry into the market through entrepreneurial activities.  

When we discuss entrepreneurship we need to look at it through a lens that allows entry and sustainability to all members of society, regardless of their socioeconomic background. We constantly put the youth into boxes without realising it, for example: “Can they speak English?” or “Do they fall under a marginalised category that can be capitalised on?” Many of times, it is youth in Amman who start businesses, privileged youth or youth from marginalised communities. However, what are we doing to encourage the average young person that does not necessarily have entrepreneurial ideas to start thinking of engaging in entrepreneurial activities? Doing so is a necessity, as that is the only we way our unemployment rate can be improved. What kind of incentives is the current private sector providing that allows their employees to branch out of the existing mandates to serve new ones under the same umbrella? You do not necessarily have to leave your organisation to become an entrepreneur. You can become one in the same organisation you are in if empowered to create and innovate, thus generate new jobs and income.

This brings me to the lack of accessibility of individuals and mentors in society. We need to shift our mentality from “I need to know somebody that knows somebody that knows somebody to get to the person we need to get to.” If we are truly focusing on a platform of equality of all, rather than defining civic engagement as just participating in civic duties to being easily accessible as a citizen to whomever needs your help, if we are easily accessible to others we lift others and lift ourselves.

I believe that-trickle-down effect of these suggestions is one way we can move towards a stronger economy.

 

The writer is founder and director of Wasel for Awareness & Education. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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