Why We Are Here
In August 2010, the International Labor Organization warned of a "lost generation" of young people left out of the global economy and facing reduced life opportunities. They include over 80 million unemployed youth, and over 250 million youth in the ranks of the "working poor" – eking out uncertain and unsustainable livelihoods in the informal market, on the margins of society.
Generation Enterprise is committed to helping the "Lost Generation" find its way.
"Street youth" are homeless, unemployed, and underemployed youth eking out livelihoods in the shadows of "slum cities" around the world. They are the products of three game-changing global phenomena:
According to the World Bank, we are in the midst of the largest youth cohort in human history. The population explosion is concentrated in the developing world, prompting governments to speak alternately of a "demographic dividend" and a “ticking time bomb."
Today, half the world’s population lives in cities. Every week 1.3 M more people flood into urban centers. This is the largest migration in the history of humanity, and it’s rapidly accelerating. Most migrants end up in slums. Slum-dwellers already make up 1/6 of humanity. By 2050, two billion more will join their ranks, most of them youth.
Even before the Great Recession, the ILO estimated that developing countries needed to create 1 billion jobs over the next decade just to keep up with first-time job seekers. Youth now make up 50% of unemployed people on the planet. The stakes are high: halving youth unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa could increase GDP by 12-19%.
The “lost generation” is an economic, social justice, and international security issue. Street youth cost their countries billions in lost potential, are vulnerable to exploitation, and tend to be targets for recruitment by criminal groups, from local gangs to terrorist cells. Generation Enterprise creates a clear path for youth to go from poverty to self-sufficiency to community leadership. Unlike traditional microfinance programs or incubators, we design, own, and operate our ventures.
We launch and grow businesses with partners in key industries and government, ensuring demand and reducing market risk. Youth enter our enterprises as employees, learning on the job (as opposed to in a classroom), receiving ongoing training, earning income, assuming greater responsibility, and ultimately taking ownership of the entity. Youth buy-out GEN at a preset level, allowing us to be more financially sustainable while providing them true ownership via a co-op structure. Our on-the-job training is more effective and affordable than vocational programs by enabling both educated and unskilled (BoP) labor to build skills and ownership
Since 2011, we have worked in Nigeria and India, partnered with the World Bank and local governments, trained over 300 youth and incubated 25+ businesses that have created 50+ jobs, resulting in average income increases of 13x. We believe that youth can be agents of change and economic development in their communities. Our vision is a global network of sustainable, profitable youth-run businesses, creating skills, livelihoods, and community wealth.