For five years, we at Generation Enterprise struggled to create economic opportunities and sustainable livelihoods for youth in the world’s toughest slum communities, from Lagos, Nigeria to Delhi, India.
We worked with thousands of youth: ex-gang members and ex-sex workers, homeless youth and street hawkers – all hungry, all willing to work hard, all unable to find “decent” jobs with sustainable livelihoods.
trapped in the skills gap.
These youth lacked the basic professional ("soft") skills and entrepreneurial mindset required to help a business grow, whether that business was their own or that of an employer.
As a result, a generation of young people was trapped in dead-end, low-skilled and often exploitative informal sector work, while small businesses couldn’t find needed talent to help scale up beyond the micro-enterprise level and create much-needed economic growth and good jobs.
We realized we needed to take an ecosystem approach to this supply-and-demand problem.
Our solution: transform “street youth” into skilled workers and leaders. Transform struggling micro-enterprises into thriving community employers.
We call this the Social Mobility Enterprise ecosystem, and we’re building one in Lagos, Nigeria. We’ve developed a tech-enabled tool, SkillNav, which helps businesses develop their young workers and helps young workers practice and contribute new skills at the business that employs them.
By providing work-study opportunities to young workers, a business develops a homegrown pipeline of talented young workers that allows the business to scale. By learning skills while earning a living wage, a youth can work his or her way up the ranks, following a structured career path out of poverty and into a leadership role.
Generation Enterprise’s mission is to unlock the potential of youth to become agents of economic development and social change in slum communities.