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3-Step Model to Turn Job Seekers into Job Creaters

Motivate with success stories, edify with mock enterprises and facilitate with entrepreneurial ecosystem mapping: these three steps, we believe, will help youths create jobs for them and others. While our societal values and educational systems fail to provide both the motivation and skill required to become an entrepreneur, lack of information on existing support structures often slows the growth of start-up they do manage to establish.

Photo of Pankaj Parajuli
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Many developing countries around the world face the problem where number of youths entering the job market exceeds the supply. Channeling youths towards  entrepreneurship is essential in order to open new pathways to youth employment. However, our societal values and educational system fails to provide both the motivation and the skill required to become one. So we at Institution for Suitable Actions for Prosperity (ISAP) have been working towards implementing a 3-step model to assist youths and resource-poor people become successful entrepreneurs.

As illustrated in the picture above, the first step is motivating youths towards entrepreneurship. Next we work to develop their entrepreneurial skill and lastly we help them identify support structure. Under each of these modules, we have developed or are in the process of developing different programs. Below is a brief summary of why there is a need for such a program, how the program will work and why it should succeed.


Step One: Motivating Youths towards Entrepreneurship

Sharing success stories of self-made young entrepreneurs turning commercial farmers into “celebrities” are two programs we are working on in order to motivate youths towards entrepreneurship.

Why is it necessary?

The foremost quality any person requires to be a successful entrepreneur is the drive to succeed. That motivation has to come from within. Most entrepreneurship development programs in developing countries fail to create this drive to succeed among entrepreneurs and consequently majority of enterprise that are set up with their support close once such programs cease to exist. From a societal point of view, entrepreneurship is yet to be considered a successful career that parents push their children towards and youngster often have to fight the parental pressure to become entrepreneurs.

How will it work?

ISAP has created short documentaries of ten self-made successful entrepreneurs under the age of 35. We have screened it in different schools and colleges, in town halls, street festivals as well as on TV. We have converted the video documentary into radio shows and plan to broad cast it through community FM stations. This also helps to change people’s mindset from becoming job seekers to creators.

Why will it succeed?

India’s Jagriti Yatra where 450 youths book a train and travel 8000 KMs interacting with entrepreneurs has helped turn young job seekers into creators. Similarly, success of Skype and Wazza is one of the major reasons behind Estonia holding the record for most start-ups per capita. “In the 80s every boy in high-school wanted to be a rock star,” says Taavet Hinrikus, Skype’s first employee, “Now everybody in high-school wants to be an entrepreneur.”

Screening video stories of entrepreneurs in colleges is more feasible that having youths travel to entrepreneurs. We believe such success stories will help youths identify entrepreneurship as a career option. In one of our screening, a girl mentioned how she had discouraged her father to start his own tomato farm as she felt working in a farm an inferior job. Now after watching BioTech Engineering graduates open a vermi-compost plant, she regretted her earlier decision.

Secondly, sharing success stories makes entrepreneurs into celebrities. Unfortunately, farming is considered an inferior profession in Nepal. Inferiority complex is the reason behind an increase in people shifting away from agriculture. By projecting farmers as celebrities, it helps to elevate their societal status and attract more youths towards it. In most developing countries, agriculture is probably one sector that can absorb the most number of entrepreneurs.


Step Two: Building Entrepreneurial Skills

Why is it necessary?

We’ve been taught by the education system to follow instructions and not find a way out. We’ve been raised to follow instructions, for example, to follow the teachers order, wait for an assignment or waiting for the bell to go to go class. We are highly qualified yet lack the most basic of skills. I have completely my BBA, know how to analyze investment portfolio yet I don’t know how to do vouchers or enter journals. In this component, we aim to empower youths will skills to set direction of their company, understand the nitti-gritties of administration, appreciate what risk taking is and innovating oneself out of problems.

How and why will it work?

In this step, we are working on two programs: one is running a practice enterprise symposium and the second, providing internship opportunities for youths in start-ups.

Practice Enterprise Symposium: The practice enterprise symposium is targeted towards High School/ College students, to involve them in a game play similar to that of running an actual enterprise. Just as students understand more about how the UN functions by being involved in a Model United Nations, participating in this symposium would help students understand how to run a startup. We, the organizers, act as government, banks and the students will open practice enterprises in pre-selected types in groups and will have to trade with each other and function as a small practice economy. They’ll also have to produce paperwork to submit regulatory authorities, a marketing strategy, fill forms to get loans, etc. This experience can be both enticing and challenging and works as a mock session for entrepreneurship. They will know about the hidden costs of business, understand risk taking and how the environment affects how one should function.  We hope to do this in one week long conference.  To be able to successfully plan this, we would need a lot of help from the Open Ideo community.

Internship/Apprenticeship in Start-up: ISAP intends to connect new start up with youths through internship. Interns learn more about the overall problems of operating inside an enterprise and learn how to solve problems on a more wholesome scale than they would from an already established business that only allows them to work specific tasks. For interns, it is a risk free entrepreneurship experience and for entrepreneurs, they are usually happy to get extra help.

Step 3: Mapping Entrepreneurial Support Structure

Why is it necessary?

Starting a new enterprise or a business in Nepal is very difficult, especially for small entrepreneurs, due to lack of proper information about the market, regulatory requirements and available support structures. Many development organizations do work in this field but as an entrepreneur, finding out what support structures are there to help you succeed and thrive is indeed difficult. At the same time, government funds such as Youth Self Employment Fund (which provides startup capital to youths) and PACT Grants (which provide matching grants to existing small entrepreneurs to grow their business) as well as government programs that provide free training are underutilized.

How and why will it work?

The main aim of our project is to create a comprehensive map of the business ecosystem in Nepal. By creating a location-specific database of government agencies and other regulatory organizations, enablers (those who provide technical assistance and skill trainings), financiers, providers of systems and services, suppliers, intermediaries and customers, we will create a map that depicts the network of these bodies within the ecosystem and the flow of goods and services, money and credit, information and intangible value between and among them.
An ecosystem map would be very helpful for these aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start up a business or grow and expand it into new avenues. The map would help them analyze and understand the market, assess opportunities, indentify best point of entry, comply and fulfill regulatory requirements, seek for technical assistance and finance, and connect with the suppliers, customers and intermediaries.
Furthermore, plotting such a map would be very useful to study and understand the current industrial scenario and to identify the weak points and linkages in the system that creates hindrances and difficulties for new and existing businesses. Identifying such areas would provide us with the opportunities to improve and strengthen the system as our findings could then lead to suggestions on how to address the problems and indentify the policy gaps in those areas. It would also help the supporting bodies like enablers and financiers to allocate their resources properly and make full utilization of such underutilized services as more and more businesses will be seeking their support.

Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

Our main focus is youths between the age of 16 and 28, especially those who have completed high school and are working towards a Bachelor's Degree. We might need grants to pilot test practice enterprise symposium and ecosystem mapping components. Once we can show it to be successful, we believe colleges as well as students themselves will pay for the symposium and we can break even. In terms of mapping, if we can achieve a certain reach among aspiring entrepreneurs, financial institution, establish business that provide services to start-ups and even development organization will be willing to advertise in our booklet/web portal.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We have tried step 1 and we have received an overwhelming response. Colleges contact us to give our videos. Different NGOs are asking for the DVD of our videos to screen it themselves. We would need to hold the first practice enterprise symposium with 30-50 participants to figure out the system. In terms of mapping, we are planning to Map 3-5 districts as a pilot and expand it nation wide.

What skills, input or guidance are you keen to receive from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

We are still working on the "How" part for step 2 and 3 of our 3-step model. Reading through the research stage articles, there seems to be various ways different NGOs and governments are working to building entrepreneurial skill set. We would love a discussion on how to go about building the practice enterprise working: what are the problems we should give to participants, how big should our small economy be. Any experience and thoughts on the process would be of great help. In terms of the business ecosystem mapping, we would appreciate if the community would provide us with ideas on how to reach out to aspiring entrepreneurs with the information. What is the best output? Is it a booklet or is it a customized web portal for each applicant? If any one in the community has previously tried to do enterprise ecosystem mapping, what are the difficulties they have faced?

The idea emerged from:

  • A group brainstorm

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to prototype it, find partners and pursue implementation


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