September 23, 2013

SPARK IGNITE: Tackling Youth Entrepreneurship from Different Angles

by Yvonne Leung

On September 18th 2013, Spark held its annual expert seminar in cooperation with the Clingendael Institute and the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law at the Impact Hub Amsterdam.  An inspiring location to discuss some pressing dilemmas regarding Youth Entrepreneurship Development in Conflict Affected Environments.

Experts in this field such as development practitioners, policy makers, academics, private sector representatives, and entrepreneurs were posed with two brainteasers:

  • Who should be the target group, the vulnerable or economic potentials?  and..
  • How can so-called quick impact interventions be bridged with sustainable development?

The topics for discussion were first addressed by triggering keynote speeches given by Tarik Yousef (Silatech) and Magdi Amin (IFC).  Both speeches were then followed by a division of the audience into groups to further discuss the dilemmas, with the anticipation for them to thereafter come up with solutions and propositions.

It was interesting to be in the surroundings of individuals with such diverse backgrounds, each bringing in his or her expertise and experience.  But whereas discussions can often become heated, consensus was somehow easily reached: we need innovations and collaborations. The experts all agreed that improvements can only be made when these two elements are encouraged. The belief is shared that the creation of economic opportunities can contribute to social cohesion and peace, of which the foundations should be drawn up from trust and leadership. This means that the youth has to be empowered through skill-set development and the existing mindsets need to be changed in order to create upward spirals. And as Magdi Amin argued, ‘social deficits ask for social entrepreneurs’.

Keeping the predicaments to the fore, practical approaches were proposed for more social venturing, and to create more employability to target both the economic potentials and the vulnerable for sustainable outcomes. The auspicious unanimity is promising: youth entrepreneurship can act as a driver for positive change. Let us hope that this inspiring seminar can serve as a jumping-off point to actually pave the way for the will that appears to be amongst many.

*Yvonne Leung is a Communications Intern in the Amsterdam office

SPARK IGNITE is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, on relevant topics in the news, stories from the fields, and what inspire us to do what we do.  We welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]