This pilot project aims to promote an innovative concept that can encourage the youngest people to adhere to social entrepreneurship. The project also seeks to illustrate the transformative power of socially innovative companies.
Due to conditions such as insularity, size and income, São Tomé and Príncipe faces several development challenges. Although average annual GDP growth has exceeded 4% since 2012, poverty has not decreased significantly. Unemployment rates (19.7% for women and 9.3% for men by 2015) show a gender imbalance that needs to be addressed. At the same time, the unemployment rate among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 (23% in 2015) is much higher than the national average (13%). However, entrepreneurship among young people is underdeveloped for structural reasons related to the lack of available skills and funding, and the predominance of a culture that promotes the security of public functions over other, less stable livelihood options.
The pilot project "Promoting social entrepreneurship among young people" aims to promote actions that encourage young people to become social entrepreneurs, with particular attention to activities related to the green economy. The project also aims to demonstrate the transformative power of socially innovative companies that seek both financial profit and social benefits through a communication strategy geared particularly to decision-makers from the government, business community and development professionals.
Initially, the project will develop national awareness and leadership to promote a business-oriented approach to social development through a complete package of services (training, financing, peer-to-peer, market access, business laboratories) for the target group (young people interested in social entrepreneurship). These activities will be supported by the establishment of strategic partnerships with international entities specializing in supporting social entrepreneurship (such as Ashoka and Impact Hub).
Secondly, the project will support new and existing social entrepreneurs in developing skills in networks, resource mobilization, maximizing the use of information technologies, as well as in planning, starting and managing business. This stage will also include financial support for on-the-job training and the provision of small grants for potential entrepreneurs of community-based youth organizations, based on targeted local development (focusing on priority areas such as renewable energy or waste management).
To extend its reach and maximize target group engagement, the initiative will be mainly channeled through mobile caravans, mobile structures that will visit rural and urban youth centers. Two types of caravans are planned: the blue caravan, aimed at promoting activities related to the environment, and the green caravan, dedicated to services to support social entrepreneurship. The pilot project will cover the two most populous districts of the country (Água Grande and Mé-Zóchi), which concentrate around 60% of the population of São Tomé. Subsequently, based on the lessons learned, the initiative could be extended to other districts and replicated among other target groups (unemployed adults or women's groups).
South-South Cooperation will play a key role in the project, in terms of training and support in the management of social affairs, whether through access to instructional services or tutoring, in a group or individually, or through virtual sharing of knowledge.
Country of origin of the solution: São Tomé and Príncipe
Recipient country: São Tomé and Príncipe
Supported by: UNDP
Implementing agency: UNDP São Tomé and Príncipe, and Ministry of Youth and Sports of São Tomé and Príncipe
Project development stage: Ongoing
Project implementation period: Between 2018 and 2019
Sabina Fernandes dos Ramos
UNDP São Tomé and Príncipe