At Generation Enterprise, we are using business to empower young people to be agents of social change and economic development in their communities.

Along the way, we are also redefining what a good business is.

A “good” business is a Social Mobility Enterprise. It provides a path out of poverty to low-skilled, low-income young workers. It elevates and enriches these workers by providing living wages, development opportunities, and long-term careers (so a youth can go from trainee to manager and even to franchise or equity owner). It scales up by making its workers’ skills and motivation a source of enduring competitive advantage.

a Social Mobility Enterprise (SME) is a youth development organization disguised as a high growth services or manufacturing business.

Countries should strive for SME growth. This is critical for developing countries like Nigeria, where we desperately need jobs for all our young people – but find that many young job seekers lack the skills they need to move into positions of greater responsibility and higher compensation. But of course Nigeria is not the only place where a wide skills gap constrains business growth and keeps many young people locked out of economic opportunity.

That’s why GEN is building a demonstration portfolio of the world’s first SMEs. We want to show the world the power of the Social Mobility Enterprise model to unlock workers’ potential, build a talent pipeline for a growing venture, and inject inclusive growth into low income communities. 

Zest Concierge Services is the first SME in our portfolio.

We developed the business with former “street youth” in Lekki and scaled it up by embedding a hand-picked GEN management team. Today the formally registered and tax paying Zest Concierge Services has over 100 clients, 50+ employees, and permanent offices in Yaba, the heart of Lagos’s “Silicon Lagoon.”

Lessons learned

Any company can learn from the Zest case study - find out more here