What is the role of entrepreneurship in impacting the youth ecosystem? How can education help the youth adapt to post-pandemic realities?
In this article, Kenneth Kwok, Founder of KIDsforSDGs, a Catalyst 2030 member, uses the 6Ps Approach to advocate for youth leadership and entrepreneurship as ways to empower young global citizens.
by: Kenneth Kwok, Founder and Chief Education Officer, KIDsforSDGs
The urgency around leading academic institutions, including secondary schools, to advance knowledge-based entrepreneurship has been given added impetus by the COVID-19 crisis, and there is an unprecedented opportunity to explore actions required to deliver new skills and delivery mechanisms for learning and training. In addition, new learning ecosystems are needed to enable a broad-based reskilling revolution, one that is inclusive of entrepreneurship. KIDsforSDGs, a Catalyst2030 member and a not-for-profit education for sustainable development initiative based out of Hong Kong and operating across the Asia Pacific region, advocates for youth leadership and entrepreneurship, both for-profit and not-for-profit, through the following 6Ps Approach.
Power – Academic institutions possess deep and factual reservoirs of knowledge from which entrepreneurs can draw. We have policies, incentives and centres designed to develop and encourage entrepreneurship amongst staff and students, and to improve their external connections. Our education and training enhance the managerial and entrepreneurial skills for building rapid responses in businesses and government, as well as the capabilities for the agile yet resilient organizations that are needed in the future.
Purpose – We possess an aspiration to be a leading force in education, research and development, innovation and knowledge transfer. To do so, we must encourage entrepreneurship through research and teaching. In response to the demand from young people, more and better research on the social and environmental aspects of entrepreneurship has been availed, improving decisions not only amongst potential and current entrepreneurs but also in national and local governments keen to rebuild economies. Academic institutions also have an important role in setting proper guard rail and sandbox environments to ensure emerging technologies maximize their impact, while protecting against potential risks. The notion of start-ups being a threat to incumbents needs to change, shifting towards a culture of collaboration and synergy.
Partnerships – We believe collaboration through entrepreneurships are most successful when the partners have complementary assets and common values. It’s important for the collaborating parties to establish a consensus based on a clear understanding of how both parties can create synergies and derive value before establishing a partnership. Building a robust relationship between stakeholders from the get-go is essential. Relationships require a foundation of trust and an understanding of the interests of each party – and academic institutions can nurture these relationships throughout the partnership is equally critical.
Playfulness – Youth entrepreneurs need to be empowered to experiment and play. Their play is not foolish or indulgent, but a purposeful strategy pursued by people to give them distinctive advantages at work. This play is directed towards learning and adapting, and involves experimenting and exploring new ways of doing things. It is how youth express their freedom to choose how they are going to work – to decide and not be told. Importantly, play is fun, and a workplace where there is enjoyment and laughter is more likely to be productive and capable of attracting and retaining talented students and staff.
Publicity – The growing expertise in academic institutions in using online media for education, as a method of knowledge transfer, will also be needed as a complement or supplement to the more intensive forms of learning that will be needed to address the complex challenges of the future. Such learning is experiential and requires effective cross-disciplinary and cross-professional teams. An intergenerational approach is required to integrate the demands and contributions of business, government, public sector and universities.
Profit – Successful youth entrepreneurs explore and experiment while focusing on the bottom line is also important to ensure financial stability and sustainability. Operating with a zero-sum mentality – that the only way to win is for someone else to lose – is a short-term strategy in a highly-connected world, in which reputations for being co-operative, trustworthy and ethical are crucial. By focusing on delivering returns, entrepreneurs also learn to building resilience to setbacks. They should see the inevitable failures that happen when they are innovating, or attempting to change, as opportunities to learn and improve. Cultivating a determination to deliver returns to investors, and a mindset that sees setbacks as occasions to pivot in new directions, is paramount to success.
In summary, to make a greater impact in the youth ecosystem, entrepreneurship can provide a greater range of options, as well as speed and agility, to a world adapting to the aftermath of COVID-19. Catalyst2030 can coordinate and facilitate partnerships within academic institutions and other key stakeholders to provide, direct and facilitate research, resources, incentives and policies to support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. KIDsforSDGs, through our additional engagements with UN Women, UNITAR, World Economic Forum, World Humanitarian Forum, Learning Planet and more, will support this through leading upskilling across youth education, employment and entrepreneurship, scale collective impact and adjust to new demands of the post-pandemic reality.