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Y+ Connect | Collaborate | Create - Connecting young entrepreneurs with creativity and ideas to organizations having money and resources to transform eggs into butterflies

During our research, we realized that youth is much more informed, conscious and creative but lack clarity, guidance & support as their parents are busy and education system is outdated. Y+ provide youth with support to initiate their own projects as well as connect with small and medium organizations to explore existing opportunities. The goal is to redirect talent among youth to more diversified industries in Hong Kong in order to build a more balanced, creative economy, and more employment opportunities in the long run. This platform aims to provide them with right resources to experiment, innovate and discover their true passion. They might even end up as an entrepreneur thereby creating more jobs and transforming the local economy

Photo of Aditya Kedia
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Through Y+ we want to address top three concerns youth usually have:

Connections - For them, connecting to the right people is always a challenge, specially when they can't get their attention. Here They can connect to the right people such as like minded youth, organization willing to listen to them and potential mentors
Resources - Resources currently available are limited in scope and sparse and often out of their reach. On this platform they can access the jobs, funding and other form of support aggragated and integrated seamlessly.
Trust - Organnizations do not want to put they money where they can't be sure. Here, the projects young people work on becomes a  part of their portfolio which adds to their credibility and builds trust and eventually help them in long term to get noticed and get employed / funded.(Reference: Fiverr.com)

How will it work?
Y+ have three major functions:

Connect: As explained above, it connects organizations looking for skills, talents and ideas with youth looking for experiences, resources and money. (Reference: Crowdsourcing networks like elance)
Collaborate: It allows young people to team up and work on projects (initiated by organizations / youth). they can work offline but can use online platform to keep track of their projects and share information. (Reference: Collaboration platform or tools like openideo / trello)
Create: Young people can also initiate their own projects and pitch it online to look for funding and other kind of support. (Reference: microfinance or crowdfunding like Kiva)

Organizations (including social / government) can sponsor or iniate projects and offer some suitable incentives. Young people can opt to work on the project and collaborate with relvant peers. They can also find mentor from the same platform if needed or recommended by the organization. After completion of each project, both can rate each other. The rating and the work done is added to their portfolio and can be referred by future organizations to screen the candidates.

Alternatively, young people can initiate their own projects and pitch their idea. They can use the platform to look for people to collaborate. The organizations (including social / government) can offer to sponsor or adopt the idea and provide other necessary support. This encourages creativity, innovation and entrepreunership.

The idea is to create an ecosystem which can sustain itself over long-term. One may visualize the progress of a youth in this ecosystem as below:

1 . Egg stage: Starts as team member working on the projects initiated by the organizations
2. Caterpillar Stage: Gain some experience and become a mentor helping other teams work on their projects
3. Pupa Stage: Initiate his own project and seek funding and support for it
4. Butterfly Stage: Become and entrepreuner and initiate more porjects.

And finally, Butterfly lay more eggs and the cycle can continue.

For more details on how it works, please refer to the section " How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people" further down.

Why it might work?

Young people are more innovative and passionate then we might think. However, they are often overlooked or deemed 'inexperienced'. Often it is possible that they are not sure of what they want to do with their life, but usually it is the lack of resources or pressure from parents / society that they end up in wrong jobs / career ( The Reasons Why People Bloom Later)

As Henry Roth, 18 mentioned "But as a sixth form student I felt powerless to challenge the paradigm and prevent other families from experiencing the same ordeal mine went through" (Henry Roth is helping to prevent the deaths by a potentially fatal heart condition - Take heart: preventing sudden death on the sports field) This is very similar to what we found in our research and talking to some young students. They are under constant pressure to perform, but at the same time no one want to belive them or trust them.

However, as we have seen in the case of Henry Roth, given the right platform, young people never fail to amaze us or prove themselves. Some other cases of innovation by young people:
- A 17-Year-Old Invented Device That Makes Clean Water And Power At The Same Time.
- Flu Fighter Triumphs at Intel Science Talent Search

And it may just not stop at innovation, they can go and become young Entrepreuners:
- How Teen Nick D'Aloisio Has Changed the Way We Read
- Turning Time Into Currency at Age 23

As far as organizations are concerned, they are always in need of new blood as well as have to nurture the future workforce to align mutual interests. Initially, they might just come to get young people work on their projects, but eventually, they might also fund the ideas initiated by the youth.And it may provide them additional opportunity to use the young workforce to innovate for the young.

There are some existing platfroms that can be considered as an inspiration or reference model:
www.kiva.org (micro finance)
www.openideo.com (collaboration)
www.elance.com (organization based projects)
www.kickstarter.com (creative projects)

Good to have:
Having a partner with physical space will be added bonus, for example a coworking space, a cafe or an university to provide space for teams to collaborate and work and occasional community meetups.
 

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

The various stakeholders include: Youth, Small and Medium enterprises, Social organizations and Government. Mainly targeting kids 16-22 (high school - college), as they are legally allowed to work and are in the decisive years of what careers they want to pursue. Through this, young people can get access to projects, resources and funding to help them live their dream. They will also gain skills and experience while they work on various hands on projects and build a portfolio of works and eventually credibility. Though money will be involved in the process, it might not be the key motivator, rather it is the prospect of an intriguing challenge or learning by doing that will attract them to the platform. Targeting smaller employers whose industries can be very fulfilling but is not commonly sought out by youths during their “normal recruiting”. Small and Medium organizations (particularly those associated with youth) will find it useful to use the potential of the youth to come up with creative / innovative solutions for their business challenges. They might also want to understand them as a sample of their target customers and involve them in research. As for social organizations and government, they can sponsor or initiate projects addressing social causes, thereby encouraging youth to work for the society and enable them to make the real impact.

How is your idea specifically increasing access to employment opportunities and pathways for young people?

As we have mentioned, we believe that Young people will do better if we start believing in them and place more trust in their abilities. Through this platform, they can find the opportunities to work on the projects they believe in. As they will work on projects, they will collaborate with others and therefore will not only gain experience, but will also learn team work and social skills. The platform aims to create an ecosystem and hence work in two ways: First: Youth initiated projects Young people are full of views, opinions and ideas and they have ambitions and energy to work on those ideas. But often, there are not enough resources provided to them. Through this platform, they can express their ideas and seek support. They can look for collaborators (other young people), Mentor (experienced young people / professionals), micro-funds / other resources (organizations). Micro-funds can work as a seed fund (donated by certain organizations to boost sector specific innovation). In case, projects need more fund than basic seed fund, it can be provided on loan (Reference: www.Kiva.org model) or through a mother organization (organization who wish to adopt the project and develop it). Second: Organization initiated projects Organizations, from time to time require a fresh infusion of creative spark and energy which is often missing in their regular workforce. They can outsource such projects to young people who can form a team work on them and gain some experience and money and later may get recruited by some organization. At the same time, young people who have more skills / experience can act as mentor and help the team to work on the projects. As the team members gain more experience, they can become mentor for other teams. Therefore, by incorporating collaboration and mentoring, it can help to share knowledge and transfer skills thus sustaining the system. Alternatively, organization can help sponsor the youth initiated projects and support them. Though one may argue it is more of a need of the youth to participate in such a platform than the organization, but this can be considered as a marketplace where young people are seller of ideas and skills and organizations are the buyers and price is not solely decided in the traditional sense of entry level jobs rather based on creativity, innovation and passion.

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

To test the idea out, we can do the following: - Interview the stakeholders for more insights - Participatory Design workshops with youth and organizations - Do small scale events involving youth, commercial and social organizations - Build limited prototype for further refinement Through these activities, we will like to understand what kind of project ideas youth can come up with,the resources they might need, how much confidence the organizations have in them and how we can help them place more trust in the abilities of youth. We will also like to test the operational issues such as how the team of young people can effectively collaborate and a mentor can facilitate them to guide through difficult situations. Other details such as who can be the potential organizations and what kind of exact skills will be more relevant will also emerge eventually from these.

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 will like to listen from anyone and everyone for any critique or suggestions, but definitely we are more interested if you are: Young and consider yourself as our target user - Do you see yourself using such platform? why or why not? We will also like to know your views and ideas and challenges you currently face in similar situations. As well as your aspirations. Small and Medium Organization: Will such an idea will be interesting for you? What kind of projects you can involve youth in, how can you reward them? Do you think it can become an ongoing relationship rather than exploiting them for cheap labor for menial task?

The idea emerged from:

  • An OpenIDEO Meetup

How do you envision your idea being implemented?

  • Keen to be involved in prototyping but need partners at some stage

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Photo of Alison Gilbert
Team

Hi Aditya, this is an interesting approach to the challenge of the “youth need a job to gain experience / youth need experience to get hired” cycle. When it comes to organizations seeking creative solutions from youth, I’m curious about how this translates from the digital platform into real world deliverables and in-person work experience. Would organizations be using Y+ as a sort of online think-tank, where youth can “apply” to the projects by posting about their ideas? (Similar to OpenIDEO?) Or would certain projects be categorized by location, so youth in the area can submit their ideas and the organization can short-term hire the young person they’re interested in, as if on a contract?

Photo of Aditya Kedia
Team

Hi Alison, thanks for your question. No, it is neither of what you mentioned. It is not about crowdsourcing ideas as we think down the line, that method do end exploiting participants. The projects and ideas are separate and not directly connected.

The online platform is supposed to serve two purposes. In first case, the organizations can post information about their projects and youth can show interest (either an individual or as a team). If organization find them fit for the project, they can award them the project to do. In case the project needs more than one person to work on and an individual do not have a team, they can eventually form one using the platform or organization can recruit separate individuals and they can collaborate together. The platform also provides them tools to collaborate. But, definitely here the companies are recruiting young people to work for them on a particular project and may happen online or offline depending on the task / project. And key here is collaboration otherwise most of the projects are not projects but just menial task of almost no real value.

The second purpose is to allow youth to pitch their own ideas. Here the young people can pitch their ideas or intentions and organizations or individuals can decide to support it or not. If organizations decide to support it, they can provide them with necessary funding and other resources. If individuals decide to support it, they can offer them micro-funds which can be returned back later in some form.

So, rather than just telling the youth what to do. we also make it possible to listen to them. We see both the parts of the platform as two sides of the same coin and since all the stakeholders involved are same, it completes the cycle, and help to sustain the ecosystem.

Let me know if that makes sense. Hope to know your views.

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