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

  • Writer's pictureYouth Co:Lab

Young Parliamentarians for Peace through Youth-Inclusive Innovation and Startups

During the 9th IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians on 14-17 September 2023 in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, Beniam Gebrezghi, the Program Specialist Civil Society and Youth of the United Nations Development Programme in Asia and the Pacific shared how Youth Co:Lab, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, serves as a regional platform that brings together incubators, accelerators, governments, and youth-led organizations to empower young people through leadership, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Nearly 300 young parliamentarians and ecosystem players convened at the Conference to discuss how young people accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and peace through advancing inclusive legislative, monitoring, and decision-making processes for today's most pressing challenges.

Group photo during the 9th IPU Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians

The conference was a space for young people to discuss global issues and evidence-based policymaking for environmental protection, development and conflict resolution. It also highlighted the skills and understanding of young people in leveraging the use of digitalization and innovation to answer the call of the 2030 agenda and leave no one behind.

One of the key driving forces affirmed is the role of innovation and startups. This includes enhancing the innovation and startup ecosystem by creating legal frameworks to support innovation and startups, increasing funding and resources to back youth-led and inclusive enterprises, startups, and innovation initiatives, and ensuring that these efforts align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially those aimed at empowering underserved communities, while promoting inclusivity in entrepreneurship.

Beniam shared a message encouraging young people to "Focus on an enterprising mindset and 21st-century skills accompanied with a deep connection with culture. You can use them for government jobs later and for your volunteering work." He also shared with fellow ecosystem stakeholders that "One of the greatest values and lessons learned is not pushing young people to start a business unless they're ready for it but really learn the skills that are prerequisite for the new era and the changing future of work that we are all observing." He also reiterated Youth Co:Lab’s commitment to strengthening the entrepreneurship startup ecosystem and making it more inclusive.

Beniam Gebrezghi speaking during the Innovation and Startups session

In this aspect, Youth Co:Lab with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) created a toolkit, ‘Zooming in on Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: Toolkit for National Diagnostic Studies’ to provide actionable guidance to policymakers, development practitioners, researchers and young people interested in conducting an assessment or facilitating dialogues on the state of youth entrepreneurship in any geographical context.

Moreover, Youth Co:Lab’s Springboard Programme ia an all-year-round startup support platform for young people, provides the following opportunities:

Springboard ELEVATE - A peer-to-peer learning fellowship programme that convenes a supportive network of young social entrepreneurs who lead impactful initiatives, improving the lives of marginalized communities to learn, co-create, and together advocate for an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Springboard PLUS - An industry expert-led programme dedicated to enhancing youth-led social enterprises' investment readiness and addressing their business operations and management challenges when scaling their impact.

Springboard HUB - An ongoing online resource hub that facilitates mentoring, knowledge exchange, networking, and showcasing to provide skills development for young social entrepreneurs.


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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