Countries / Territories

Why Youth and Trade

  • Youth represent the future of a society and its economy. Decent and productive economic opportunities for young people are critical to achieve sustainable growth, development and social stability.

    The inclusiveness of a country’s actions towards growth can play a pivotal role in empowering young people both economically and socially. Trade and economic development must not increase inequality by bringing benefits to only a small segment of society, but rather require specific approaches to reach vulnerable groups such as young people.

    • Youth unemployment is high in most countries and in all regions

    Young people are increasingly vulnerable to higher unemployment, poorer quality jobs for those who do find work, greater labour market inequalities, longer and more insecure school-to-work transitions, and an increased mismatch between their skills and labour market needs.

    Creating large numbers of decent jobs for young people is critical for achieving overall development objectives. Globally, 600 million jobs will be needed over the next 15 years to absorb the current number of unemployed and provide job opportunities to the approximately 40 million labour market entrants – mostly young people – each year.


    • Entrepreneurship as a pathway to decent work and sustainable enterprises for young people

    Helping young people transform their creative ideas into successful business plans by removing the barriers to entrepreneurship has many potential benefits, including direct and indirect job creation and the development of human capital and new skills.


    • SMEs are the missing link for inclusive growth

    Entrepreneurship, however, is only one part of helping young people achieve financial independence. A more sustainable approach is to include young people in existing value chains and export sectors in the process of strengthening them.

    Value chains and export sectors that are inclusive can be a source of new opportunities for young entrepreneurs. Integration to value chains and international markets can have a role in ensuring the long-term success of SMEs which can lead to positive spill overs like new jobs, ideally for other young people, given the fact that in developing countries, the greatest potential for job creation lies in the local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


    • Obstacles limiting young entrepreneurs’ participation in international value chains and markets

    Young entrepreneurs face a broad range of obstacles that limit their capacity to join value chains and benefit from international trade. Youth-specific barriers can include power dynamics and social networks based on age, gender and ethnicity; lack of access to assets and finance; low education and skill levels; and administrative and regulatory frameworks that do not favour young people.

    • Policy and business environment: Entrepreneurial start-ups and activities are heavily impacted by a country’s institutional and regulatory environment.

    • Trade and Investment Support Institutions: Young entrepreneurs are not the usual clients of TISIs and receive limited tailored services and support from them.

    • Skills and resources: The specific challenges young entrepreneurs encounter in the policy, institutional and business landscape is further compounded by individual circumstances, ranging from limitations in knowledge, skills, experience, and resources.

    • Buyers and investors: The limited information about youth-owned SMEs and their competence makes it less attractive for market players to feature youth in their activities. Investors tend to be uncertain about profitability and risk of youth-owned SMEs. Buyers face a gap in assessing the value proposition of youth-owned SMEs and the benefits of working with them.





  • Flyers

    Youth and Trade Roadmaps

    Trade Accelerator

    E-Learning for Youth

  • Contact

    For more information, please contact:

    David Cordobes
    Youth and Trade Programme Manager

    Email: youth&trade[at]intracen[dot]org