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Blogs and Op-Eds by the Youth Co:lab team and contributors from our extensive network of changemakers. 

  • Rifki Fajar Hadiawan and Kamal Najmus Salehin

5 Years On, Youth Co:Lab Empowers Youth to Achieve SDGs in Indonesia

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Young people in Indonesia have been making a splash of good changes at the grassroots level, owing to innovation that has placed communities in control.

Discussion underway in the Youth and Digital Transformation chamber with the Chair and participants

during the second day of the Youth Co:Lab National Dialogue 2022.

In South Sumatra, over 500 coconut farmers can now market their products at competitive prices to overseas markets, including South Korea, in large part, thanks to KULAKU Indonesia, a start-up focusing on processed coconut production and distribution. Meanwhile, on Bintan island, Ekang Mangrove Park has adopted digital technology to market its green tourism campaign to protect the mangroves. In Papua, a women-centred business enterprise, Sa Perempuan Papua, provides a platform for Papuan women to share and learn about various critical issues, such as gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive rights. Since 2019, this enterprise has reached over 250 young women in the province.

These youth enterprises were among hundreds of start-ups, which have received support through Youth Co:Lab, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation.

Youth Co:Lab, implemented in the Asia-Pacific region, strives to support youth economic growth by investing in skills and capacity and offering development platforms through youth entrepreneurship training and mentorship. Youth Co:Lab support has promoted creative thinking connected with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) to empower Indonesian youth with an emphasis on social impact.

Participants at the final day of the event celebrating five years of Youth Co:Lab in Indonesia.

Youth participation in enterprises is critical to Indonesia's growth because they make up the bulk of Indonesia's population. According to the National Statistics Agency, Indonesian youth account for approximately 23.90 percent of the population, or 64.92 million people.

In supporting these budding enterprises, Youth Co:Lab leverages the growth of active angel investors, impact investment, and local and international accelerators and incubators, which have aided in the formation of over 2,100 start-ups in the country.

Marking five years since its inception, Youth Co:Lab brought together over 150 youth development ecosystem stakeholders in Indonesia including national and provincial governments, youth communities, investors and venture capital firms, civil society groups, and academia at the Youth Co:Lab National Dialogue 2022 held in October. The main objective of the event was to tackle issues surrounding policies on youth entrepreneurship, digital transformation, and the green economy. It also featured the dissemination of the National Strategy (Stranas) for Youth Entrepreneurship developed by Bappenas and the Next Generation Indonesia study report commissioned by the British Council.

Panel Session on 5 Years of Youth Co:Lab in Indonesia, featuring (L-R): Randa Sandhita of UNDP Indonesia, Mustopa Patapa of Kulaku, Puni Anjungsari of Citi Indonesia, Imam Gunawan of Ministry of Youth and Sports, and Rifki Hadiawan of UNDP Indonesia.

Delivering the opening remarks at the event, UNDP Indonesia Resident Representative, Norimasa Shimomura, reflected, "We chose this year's subject because the urgency of climate action and the SDGs fuel our innovation to involve more youth in digital entrepreneurship and the green economy. There is a clear business case for us to push this agenda to the forefront."

According to Bappenas, implementing a green economy could boost GDP growth by 6.1 percent to 6.5 percent annually until 2050, while also providing 1.8 million new green jobs by 2030. At the same time, Indonesia could avoid up to 87.96 billion tons of GHG emissions over the next four decades, he added.

Echoing the sentiment, the Director and Country Head of Corporate Affairs at Citi Indonesia, Puni Ayu Anjungsari said, "This national dialogue is expected to make a meaningful contribution to Indonesia's development process. To optimize this huge potential, the youth, as the nation's successors, need to have sufficient opportunities and access to become one of the future drivers of the economy through entrepreneurship.''

Since its establishment in 2018, Youth Co:Lab has seen more than 200 youth-led enterprises in Indonesia, directly benefitting more than 1,000 young people. More than IDR 800 million have been invested in these young social enterprises after they graduated from Youth Co:Lab. These achievements are fuelled by the four pillars of Youth Co:Lab, including raising awareness on social entrepreneurship, concrete action to increase the capacity of youth-led enterprises, persistent advocacy to promote a supporting policy environment in youth entrepreneurship development in Indonesia, and monitoring the sustainability of its alumni through post-programme engagements and workshops.

This blog was written by Rifki Fajar Hadiawan and Kamal Najmus Salehin and edited by Tomi Soetjipto and Ranjit Jose of UNDP Indonesia.


Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.

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