While today’s crisis may revolve around financial markets, tomorrow’s will stem from the aftershock: hundreds of millions of young adults never incorporated in the job market. The repercussions of this lost generation will be devastating.
Unemployment can create a vicious cycle. Countries with high levels of unemployment will generate lower tax revenues, often resulting in budget cuts on education and transportation infrastructure. These cuts then weaken the business investment climate. Personally, unemployment is demoralizing: it can lower one’s sense of self-worth and create a self-fulfilling prophesy, when a person pursues future jobs.
Over half of the global population, roughly 3.5 billion people, are below the age of 27. In many countries across Europe, youth unemployment hovers at 30 to 50%. In several African countries, only the lucky few have jobs. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), unemployment is about 65% in Mozambique, 85% in Liberia and 95% in Zimbabwe. In short, jobs are far from an equal opportunity.
Last week, over 770 leaders from over 70 countries gathered in Addis Ababa for the World Economic Forum on Africa. One afternoon, we convened over 60 Young Global Leaders, Social Entrepreneurs and Global Shapers to brainstorm innovative and transformative solutions to the global unemployment crisis. These three communities possess the ambition and the horsepower to lead such change, across Africa and globally.
The brainstorming in Addis Ababa centred on four themes: corporate engagement with education systems; cooperative and social business models; small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and mentoring, internship and apprenticeship schemes.
The most promising idea, endearingly called “Brave Chicken”, was presented by Arsene Yabre, a Young Global Shaper from Burkina Faso. Brave Chicken is a youth-led franchise for poultry farming that could easily be built up across Sub-Saharan Africa to train and employ millions of youth. Throughout the week, the “Brave Chicken” conversations continued with vocational and agriculture-focused universities across Africa; regional retail food chains; global agricultural supply chain companies; and non-profits focusing on business solutions to poverty.
At the World Economic Forum, we are inspired by the conversations that occur within the halls of the meeting and among participants. Increasingly, we are transformed by the collaborations that emerge from these conversations and the impact they will have on hundreds of millions of people around the world.
I was inspired by the momentum of the Brave Chicken idea and how it can simultaneously address several big problems: food insecurity and the lack of protein in the diets of many sub-Saharan Africans; the lack of formal employment opportunities; the lack of skills-based training for agricultural productivity; and the need for hands-on entrepreneurial experience among motivated youth. I hope one day soon, we will all be transformed by the idea and impact of concepts and visions such as Brave Chicken.
Author: Abigail Noble, Head of Latin America and Africa, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship