2020 was a profoundly challenging year for young entrepreneurs around the world. The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affected every business, and hit micro, small and medium-sized enterprises particularly hard.
Young people felt the economic shock more than most, as opportunities for youth employment diminished and they were confronted by a particularly difficult business climate. Lockdowns and restrictions forced many to cease trading. Livelihoods were put at risk. Businesses led by women, refugees and migrants, ethnic minorities, and people living with a disability were disproportionately affected.
In the face of the crisis, our network’s support for young entrepreneurs was more important than ever to help them beat the odds.
Our 52 member organisations quickly adapted their services to provide virtual support, from immediate cash flow advice and loan restructuring to critical advice for pivoting businesses to survive.
Recognising the importance of emotional resilience and digital transitions at this time, we rolled out crisis mentoring and digital upskilling support. We harnessed the opportunity of the shift to virtual to bring our members, mentors and entrepreneurs together across countries to collaborate, share and innovate. Together, we’re proud to have supported over 169,000 young entrepreneurs to navigate their businesses through the pandemic.
Looking to the future, we know the pandemic’s impact will be felt for some time to come, and that micro, small and medium businesses have a crucial role to play in economic recoveries. Our commitment to supporting a diverse range of young entrepreneurs is unwavering, knowing that they have the power to unlock a richer, more varied and more resilient economy.
Young people received support from the YBI Network
Crisis support programme
In April 2020, as the pandemic tightened its grip on the global economy, Google.org awarded us $5million (US) to help micro, small and medium-sized enterprises survive the business and economic impacts of COVID-19.
We quickly onboarded 18 YBI members and 16 delivery partners to the COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery programme, with Google employees volunteering their time, skills and expertise to provide their support.
“In SHE Investments’ Digital Literacy programme, I learned about creating websites, setting up map locations and document keeping. Before that, I had struggled with everything digital. Now I can focus on my three-year business plan and building my brand.”
Together, we implemented a holistic package of emergency support in 32 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, and supported hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in crisis. In August 2020, following the devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut, we further extended the initiative into Lebanon.
197.5k entrepreneurs received support altogether, with 61.6k receiving in-depth support through webinars and training, mentoring, coaching and advisory support, or business clinics.
“One of the most important things I have learnt from my mentor is how to be confident and resilient when asking for new ideas to be actioned.”
By the end of 2020...
A good mentoring relationship can be the difference between business success and failure – and even more so in times of crisis. Our research shows that mentored entrepreneurs make better decisions, have more confidence to run a business, and better understand their own strengths and areas for development.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, young entrepreneurs have been more likely to experience psychological issues, such as stress, anxiety and loneliness. Many suddenly found themselves having to make critical decisions for their business in the midst of huge emotional distress. In times like this, a mentor’s help to navigate technical and emotional challenges can make all the difference.
In April 2020, we launched our global SOS Mentoring initiative as part of our partnership with Accenture. It equips mentors around the world with the information, knowledge and skills they need to most effectively support young entrepreneurs through crisis by enhancing established volunteer business mentoring programmes.
To date, this programme is active in over 20 countries across 4 continents, training hundreds of mentors who, in turn, are providing mentoring support to over a thousand young entrepreneurs.
Responding to the needs of young entrepreneurs – our learning
After seven months of crisis support for young entrepreneurs around the world, we pulled together our learnings and recommendations for continued response and recovery.
We identified four critical approaches that entrepreneurship support organisations (ESOs) are using to deliver vital services to entrepreneurs and their businesses:
Stimulating and supporting business pivots that are essential for survival and growth.
Enabling digital solutions that offer the promise of survival and new ways of working.
Prioritising emotional resilience to ensure no one feels alone on their journey.
Investing in and developing fully inclusive outreach and programmes for underserved groups.
Responding to the needs of young entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic.View the report
Skills to Navigate the Crisis
Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era in India and Bangladesh
By the end of March 2020, both India and Bangladesh had entered strict national lockdowns, with devastating effects on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
In India, MSMEs lost up to 50% of earnings, with micro and small enterprises hit especially hard. In Bangladesh, a staggering 94% of MSMEs experienced a sharp drop in sales, and 64% temporarily closed. Millions of young entrepreneurs in both countries suddenly feared losing their income. And there was more at stake - the national economies of India and Bangladesh are both heavily reliant on MSMEs.
“During COVID-19 I lost all my sales – I was devastated and didn’t know what to do. Then I attended B’YEAH’s training and learned about online advertising. Now I’m getting many orders, even from remote areas.”
Just a few months before the first national lockdowns began, with funding from IKEA Foundation, we launched our ‘Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era’ programme across both India and Bangladesh.
A key component of the programme is the Digital Accelerator, supported by Accenture people on a pro bono basis. This focuses on identifying and later implementing appropriate digital solutions for members to help improve their reach and the relevance of their services to entrepreneurs. It also enables members to equip entrepreneurs with appropriate digital knowledge – growing the digital skills and capacities of young entrepreneurs in areas that have become more important than ever during the pandemic.
Through 2020, our members - Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) in India, and Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice & Help Centre (B’YEAH) - quickly adapted their services to support entrepreneurs remotely. The results:
“BYST motivated me to be a woman entrepreneur. They helped me get a loan to open my restaurant, and then supported me to set up a website and link with delivery services so I could offer home deliveries and takeaways during COVID-19.”
Growth and Performance Skills (GPS) Training for Young Entrepreneurs
We all live in a VUCA world - a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity - and the pandemic has made this more apparent than ever.
In situations like this, simply knowing how to create a Business Model Canvas or undertake market research is not enough to save a business. More than ever, young entrepreneurs need to employ entrepreneurial soft skills to manage stress, emotions and their reactions to different situations.
At the point where COVID-19 had spread all over the world, our Growth and Performance Skills (GPS) Training was in its pilot phase. All in-person sessions were cancelled. We quickly adapted, turning it into a free online training programme covering a range of soft skills:
We also practiced mindfulness exercises to help young entrepreneurs clear their mind and keep negative thoughts away.
The programme delivered 3 English and 2 Spanish training cohorts, training 120 entrepreneurs in total.
Inclusive Youth Entrepreneurship
Supporting young migrants and refugees to become successful entrepreneurs
In September 2020, we concluded our partnership with the M-UP Network for Migrant Entrepreneurs to Scale Up and Grow – funded by the European Union’s COSME programme.
Over three years, M-UP’s activities reached over 180,000 people, and left a positive impact on Europe’s entrepreneurship ecosystem to better support migrant entrepreneurs.
M-UP's activities in 2020
We advocated for support on a European level
M-UP's Barcelona Declaration is a petition calling on European institutions to streamline processes and regulations, and create better conditions for migrant entrepreneurs.
We engaged with European organisations and EU policy-makers
In July 2020, M-UP held a virtual meeting with representatives of the European Commission to advocate for a pan-European movement to establish high-quality and effective mentoring support programmes for migrant entrepreneurs.
Throughout September, M-UP - along with the EMEN and MAGNET networks - held the virtual Growing Europe conference to boost migrant entrepreneurship networks.
We provided online learning opportunities
In February 2020, M-UP held three expert-led webinars on entrepreneurship training, access to finance, and mentoring for migrants.
Beating the odds
In November 2020, we launched a new report exploring how entrepreneurship support organisations and other stakeholders can help rising numbers of youth on the move fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams and ambitions —creating decent work, driving inclusive economic growth, strengthening communities, and transforming prospects and livelihoods.
Beating the odds
Supporting young refugees and migrants to become successful entrepreneurs.View the report
Empowering young women entrepreneurs in Europe
2020 was the final year of our Youth Business Europe programme, funded by the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress global initiative.
For five years, we worked with nine YBI members across Europe to provide entrepreneurial support services, skills training, mentoring, and access to low-interest loans. In 2019, the programme was extended to Kazakhstan and Russia. This helped tackle youth unemployment and drive sustainable economic growth across Europe, Kazakhstan and Russia.
In 2020, we focused on supporting young women entrepreneurs. Women make up 52% of the total European population but account for just 34.4% of self-employed people across the EU, and 30% of start-up entrepreneurs. Women-led businesses have also been hit particularly hard by the economic fallout of the pandemic.
In 2020 we supported 7,912 young people across 10 countries through the Youth Business Europe programme, bringing the total number of young people supported to 38,000. And in October 2020, we celebrated 11 incredible young women at our Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year Europe Award. All 11 finalists participated in a legal workshop and received an assessment of their businesses’ legal needs by YBI Partner Hogan Lovells.
Winner: Mariia Plotkina, Founder of Geek Teachers, supported by Youth Business Russia
Geek Teachers offers online courses and digital festivals to help teachers access technology and conduct lessons in a new way. As the winner, Mariia was awarded $5,000 (US) from Citi Foundation and business coaching to support ongoing development of her enterprise.
First runner-up: Giulia Pettinau, founder of Orangogo, supported by MicroLab (Italy)
Orangogo is a search engine that allows users to find nearby sports classes and clubs using geolocation and other data filters. As first runner-up, Giulia was awarded business coaching.
Second runner-up: Mathilde Cortinovis, founder of Équilibres Café, supported by Positive Planet (France)
Équilibres Café is a friendly and eco-responsible café in Lyon that promotes diversity in the city, as well as healthy eating for all. As second runner-up, Mathilde was also awarded business coaching.
Innovation and Going Digital
YBI members provide critical capacity development support services to entrepreneurs and their small growing businesses. YBI has been supporting members to innovate and adopt digital technologies to provide ways of delivering their services more efficiently, inclusively, and effectively. In 2020, many members saw their ability to provide their important services disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has accelerated the existing trend towards digitisation.
Developing innovations with ICCO Uganda and Qredits (Netherlands)
In November 2019, we announced the two winners of our second Innovation Challenge with Accenture - ICCO Uganda, for their Digital A-CAT for Improved Lending to Young Agripreneurs, and Qredits (Netherlands), for their BeYourOwnBoss Educational Programme.
They were each awarded $40,000 (US) sponsored by Accenture, as well as consultancy support by Lean Innovation and Customer Development expert Bob Dorf.
In 2020, they put this funding and support to use:
Qredits - BeYourOwnBoss educational programme
Qredits’ BeYourOwnBoss Educational Programme offers a curriculum covering all aspects of entrepreneurship, including personal entrepreneurial skills, ideation, competitor analysis, marketing and financial plans, and business pitching. In 2020, Qredits developed an e-learning tool, a mobile app and a brief textbook for schools and organisations to teach the curriculum. After rolling out the programme in the Netherlands, they introduced it internationally to YBI members from Bolivia to Nigeria and the Caribbean, with great feedback. The programme is targeted at Gen Z and Gen Y - the ‘COVID generation’. Faced with a daunting economic future and difficult job market as a result of the pandemic, these young people will benefit greatly from learning entrepreneurship skills early on.
ICCO Uganda – Digital A-CAT for improved lending to young agripreneurs
Digital A-CAT for Improved Lending is a low interest agricultural loan. It uses a credit assessment tool which tracks the costs of agricultural performance and revenue, minimising risks for both agripreneurs and microfinance institutes. In 2020, ICCO Uganda piloted Digital A-CAT with the Rural Finance Initiative in the West Nile region, where few loans are available. 15 agripreneurs received loans ranging from UGX30,000 to UGX1,000,000 ($8-$200) with an average loan period of six months. By the end of July 2020, the total value of portfolio growth stood at UGX15,850,000 ($3,166).
Loan officers reported that quick and easy data collection with Digital A-CAT makes credit decision-making simple.
The Global Digital Accelerator
The Digital Accelerator (DA) is a phased programme designed by YBI and Accenture that helps members rapidly accelerate their digital journeys through a structured programme. It can be applied to organisations at any stage in their digital journey.
The DA focuses on leveraging digital solutions to improve the reach and relevance of services to entrepreneurs and innovating the ways in which members operate and deliver services.
"This programme increased the innovative spirit of my organisation and created new pathways to expand our networks, partnerships, connections and reach to more global opportunities.”
The Digital Accelerator has been re-designed so that it can be fully delivered digitally and remotely to fit in line with YBI’s strategy of offering services to members that deliver impact at scale. The digital nature of the programme also has advantages given the lockdown and travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
In 2020, YBI members Faten Palestine, Spark Rwanda, FATE Foundation (Nigeria), and Youth Business Spain completed the second round of the Digital Accelerator and identified some digital solutions as a priority for their organisation:
Tracking entrepreneurs' loan applications and integrating these with their existing digital tools to ensure applications are directed to the right staff. Longer term, FATEN are considering a CRM.
A peer to peer support group on Facebook to connect entrepreneurs, share knowledge and resources, and promote their programmes and initiatives.
FATE Foundation (Nigeria)
An e-learning platform that hosts FATE Foundation’s self-paced course for entrepreneurs who want to start and grow a business, as well as companies who want to provide soft skills training to employees.
Youth Business Spain
Establish a digital network collaboration model to help their 11 local member organisations collaborate better.
"The Digital Accelerator increased the innovative spirit of my organisation and created new pathways to expand our networks, partnerships, connections and reach to more global opportunities.”
Virtual Ways of Working Playbook
YBI supported Accenture on the conceptualisation of the Virtual Ways of Working Playbook which covers best practices for social impact organisations virtualising their operations. Using the playbook, YBI and Accenture delivered online training to our members to help them adopt virtual approaches.
Virtual Ways of Working
Creating a thriving digital culture for nonprofit organisationsView the playbook
Business Model Innovation for Sustainability and Scale Pilot
In late 2019, with support from Accenture, we launched our pilot on Business Model Innovation for Sustainability and Scale to help YBI members diversify their revenue streams and reduce dependence on grant finance. This ensures their programmes are in a financially sustainable position to maintain and scale their services.
Five members were selected to participate: Manq’a Bolivia, Fundación Paraguaya, Jinishian Memorial Foundation (Armenia), FATE Foundation (Nigeria) and Keren Shemesh (Israel).
In January 2020, these five members came together for a three-day bootcamp in London, UK, where they identified business model innovations for their organisations and designed first tests.
"The bootcamp has helped me rethink whether what we're doing is sustainable - if it is something we can keep doing for the next six months or even 10 years. This experience is going to move from FATE Foundation to thousands of young entrepreneurs in Nigeria.”
Following the pandemic disruption, the project has been extended into 2021 to help members implement their business models, transfer knowledge to YBI, and offer training to the broader YBI membership.
Network Growth and Collaboration
Our first ever Global Youth Entrepreneurship Festival
The YBI Network thrives on collaboration. In a year that has been so challenging for so many, we felt it was more critical than ever to get together – if not in person, then at least virtually. In November, we held our first ever fully virtual member event, the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Festival.
- 315 attendees from 52 countries
- 31 members represented
- 7 pre-festival sessions
- 20 festival sessions
Our three-day programme featured sessions around three key themes:
The power of entrepreneurship and opportunities for the future
The importance of innovation and digital
What great support looks like
Head to the Global Youth Entrepreneurship Festival website to watch recordings of all sessions.
At the festival, we also announced the 2020 winners of our annual YBI awards.
Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Amruta Mangale, India, supported by Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST)
Amruta’s business, Hindavi Solution Private Ltd, manufactures adhesives and glues. The judges were impressed with Amruta’s innovative approach to research and development, as well as her company’s ability to be a disruptive force in the marketplace. On winning the award, Amruta told us she never dreamt she’d get to stand in front of so many people and be honoured so early on in her entrepreneurial journey. She is supported by our member in India, Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST).
Mentor Recognition Award: Reggie Ramlochan, Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago
Reggie Ramlochan is a mentor at our member Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago. The judges recognised Reggie’s passion and dedication to help entrepreneurs in his country build a resilient mindset in the face of the many challenges they encounter. Despite having volunteered with Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago for less than two years, Reggie has already supported nine mentees at multiple levels – from one-to-one support to group sessions.
“I became a business mentor because I wanted to help young people see their true potential - this creates future ready leaders for today and pioneers for tomorrow. I see mentorship as the vehicle that takes us from good to great.”
Youth Business Spain: Youth Business Spain developed the Personal Canvas. This is a visual and agile tool for self-assessment, helping young entrepreneurs to reflect and create an action plan to adapt their business to COVID-19.
Keren Shemesh, Israel: When COVID-19 hit Israel, Keren Shemesh created an online hub system which connects young entrepreneurs with relevant experts for crisis support – delivering a ten-fold increase in expert-entrepreneur pairings.
Inner City Enterprise (ICE), Ireland: Inner City Enterprise (ICE) quickly moved all their services online to support young entrepreneurs through COVID-19, with sessions on crisis management, resilience, working from home and so much more, helping them stay engaged and positive through the lockdown.
Welcoming three new members in Kenya
In January 2020, we welcomed three new members in Kenya to the YBI Network.
CAP Youth Empowerment Institute (YEI) - delivers employability skills training for young people through 38 training centres across Kenya, and supports alumni to start a business.
Sinapis - works to empower entrepreneurs through its Aspire Programme for early-stage businesses and its Entrepreneur Academy - an accelerator for businesses ready to grow.
Somo - operates in low-income urban communities, including Kibera, the largest slum in Africa. Somo’s focus is on supporting businesses that can foster positive social change.
The African Community of Practice and supporting ‘high flyers’ in Uganda
Entrepreneurship has become a viable solution to the growing problem of youth unemployment in Africa. But only 50% of start-ups are reportedly likely to survive their first year. This situation has become even more challenging through the COVID-19 pandemic, and innovation is now vital for small businesses to survive.
In February 2020, we brought together YBI members and young entrepreneurs from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria and South Africa for a three-day workshop on growth and innovation for sustainable enterprises, in Kampala, Uganda.
Sessions were led by continental innovation experts InkDot, our member Enterprise Uganda, and youth consultants on the African Free Trade Agreement, Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA).
The workshop built young entrepreneurs' skills in innovative thinking and user-centred design, and boosted their capacity to use the recent Continental Free Trade Agreement to grow their businesses.
“Without the training, I’m not sure if my business would have survived the Covid lockdown. Certainly, I would have had to let some staff go.”
The workshop was part of YBI’s African Community of Practice, which brings together 11 YBI members as part of our High Flyers Youth Entrepreneurship Programme in sub-Saharan Africa, funded by Argidius Foundation and the Government of Uganda.
This programme provides high-potential young entrepreneurs in Uganda with financial and non-financial support to scale their business, create jobs, and strengthen local communities.
In 2020, our local members Enterprise Uganda and ICCO Uganda
- trained 510 ‘high flyers’
- matched 246 young entrepreneurs with mentors
- Provided 143 young entrepreneurs with support sessions on access to finance
95% of participating young entrepreneurs reported an improvement in their knowledge, attitudes, and practices.
The extraordinary challenges of 2020 spurred global action to tackle the pandemic’s health and economic impacts, at the same time exposing fundamental inequities and shifts towards a more inclusive, sustainable recovery.
At YBI, we are embracing the opportunities to support young entrepreneurs to overcome the immediate challenges and to play a pivotal role in driving forward responsible, socially impactful businesses.
Throughout our network, growing numbers of young entrepreneurs have a personal mission to solve social and environmental challenges and are building businesses that deliver profit with purpose, and we want to ensure that they get the support they need to grow and sustain that ambition. We are working with pioneers in the field of social and green enterprise support and conducting extensive research to inform our approaches, while also working with our members through our Social and Green Impact Accelerator to test approaches to social entrepreneurship support in different contexts.
Building on our 20 years’ expertise in equipping disadvantaged young entrepreneurs to start, grow and sustain businesses, we are also accelerating our work to embed principled, practical approaches to deliver genuinely inclusive programmes across the network. In line with our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, we are expanding our training and wider support to develop decent work practices for micro and smaller enterprises, underpinned by learning from our pilot programmes.
Digital acceleration and innovation remain at the forefront for our network, capitalizing on the rapid shift to virtual delivery and digital business innovations in 2020. For the YBI network and our members, the opportunity to collaborate on the best digital approaches to entrepreneurial support has the potential to increase our reach and impact. And for young entrepreneurs, increasing digital skills, and developing innovative business models and e-commerce opportunities will be critical in ensuring their businesses are more resilient and future facing.
Amongst all the challenges of the past year, our members, mentors and young entrepreneurs have shown extraordinary courage, creativity, and commitment - and it’s with that spirit we will seize the opportunities for entrepreneurship to contribute to stronger, inclusive and sustainable economies into the future.
When young people become entrepreneurs, they unlock income generation, job creation and economic growth. Yet, for too many young people, starting a business feels out of reach, exclusive and unavailable to them.
Established in 2000, YBI brings together organisations to develop and scale the most effective solutions to the critical challenges facing young entrepreneurs, and to drive positive change in entrepreneurship culture.
Our network supports young people around the world to start, grow and sustain businesses, leveraging entrepreneurship to create decent work and drive inclusive economic growth, whilst transforming livelihoods and strengthening communities.
Our efforts are particularly focused on unlocking the potential of disadvantaged young people, equipping them to build the skills, confidence and connections they need to beat the odds and become successful business owners.
Since 2014, we have supported 183,334 young people to start or grow a business by delivering a range of entrepreneurship support services, from training and mentoring to access to finance and other business development services.
Our values are embedded in everything we do
- Tenacity - We won’t give up until every young entrepreneur has the opportunity to succeed.
- Collaboration – We work together as a team, building trust to connect and empower.
- Quality - We strive to set the highest standards in youth entrepreneurship support.
Where we work
Our 52 network members are present in 46 countries across 6 continents.
Our member organisations are passionate about supporting young people to start, build and grow their businesses. We empower them to innovate and scale their work by facilitating collaboration on local, regional and global levels.
Thank you to our partners
Total income: £6,611,139
- Charitable activities: £6,091,459
- Grants and donations: £514,385
- The forward reserves were £3,608,529, of which £879,484 were unrestricted
Total expenditure: £6,207,869
- Cost of raising funds: £173,701
- Charitable Activities: £6,034,168
- Membership Services and Engagement: £988,612
- Programme and Business Development: £4,280,718
- Learning and Influence: £764,837
Connect with us
Get to know us better. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or YouTube to learn about our network and its members, upcoming events, opportunities to get involved and more. Or if you have any questions, compliments or complaints, we'd love to hear from you at email@example.com.