Skip to main content

UNDESA Report - Exploring Youth Entrepreneurship - Prof Diane Holt


This report was prepared by Professor Diane Holt, consultant, for the United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs Division for Sustainable Development Goals.
The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect
those of the United Nations.

Across the world the creation of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are seen as a way to drive economic development and transformative growth, and for some, a route out of absolute and relative poverty.  Setting up such new enterprises is considered pivotal in the creation of new jobs to engage the labour force and
maintain global employment rates and, in the absence of employment opportunities, to provide the unemployed with livelihood opportunities.

Jobs are seen as the cornerstone of development, and are critical in promoting prosperity, fighting poverty and encouraging peace. This challenge is particularly acute amongst young people; those in the transition from childhood to full independence.

The World Development Report (2012) also estimates that whilst 3 billion people are working, almost half work in farming, small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labour. In such circumstances incomes are insecure and at subsistence level, leaving more than 1.5 billion in vulnerable, marginalised employment with non-existent or limited ‘safety nets’ to weather adverse shocks in the family such as illness or a break in employment. Many of the most vulnerable are young people.

This report explores aspects of youth entrepreneurship as a mechanism to address development challenges and support the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The report objectives are therefore to:

• Introduce the report exploring what we mean by youth, the SDGs and
• Set out the position of youth in a selection of countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, the
Gambia, and Fiji), and briefly introduce some of the main issues/challenges faced by youth in these
• Provide vignettes of good practices in other developed and developing countries;
• Explore the dynamics of youth entrepreneurship through an overview of some of the key debates,
including the importance of context and the role of the informal economy; and
• Make key recommendations to guide youth entrepreneurship.

Read the full report here.