The introduction of entrepreneurship education for students at various education levels is an important strategy for countries to ensure that they nurture the enormous socio-economic potential of their young population. The “Know about Business” (KAB) programme was developed by the ILO in the mid-90’s and is such an entrepreneurship education programme that seeks to influence young women and men’s knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviour towards entrepreneurship. Knowing more about the world of business will prepare young women and men to make better and more informed choices when they leave school and start their working life. The 120 hour KAB curriculum is introduced over one or two school years to students of vocational education, secondary education and higher education. Today, KAB activities have taken place in more than 40 countries.
Finding ways to support youth that wants to pursue an entrepreneurial career, or have no other opportunities, is an equally important strategy for governments in addressing national youth unemployment challenges. Many young women and men that have entered the job market struggle to find a job and often lack the professional experience, financial and human resources required to develop their business idea and consolidate a sustainable enterprise. The family of enterprise start-up, improvement and expansion training programmes of the ILO seeks to provide out-of-school youth with the needed skills and knowledge to start and manage an enterprise. These programmes, which today have been introduced in more than 100 countries, are the Generate Your Business Idea (GYB), Start your Business (SYB), Improve your Business (IYB) and Expand Your Business (EYB), which can support youth in various start-up and growth phases of their enterprise.
Social entrepreneurship is a form of enterprise development that has gained momentum over the past ten years. In order to solve the world’s many problems social entrepreneurship offers promising new ways of contributing to poverty reduction, delivering decent work and social inclusion. Social entrepreneurs trade for a social purpose and use their entrepreneurial skills to create sustainable market-based solutions to social problems. This is often with a focus on the poor and marginalized groups of society. The ILO is currently developing a programme to support social enterprise development, and especially with a focus on young social entrepreneurs and is developing various training tools and programmes in this area. Ongoing activities are the implementation of a social enterprise project for youth in South Africa, the development of a Start Your Social Business (SSYB) training programme, a Social Entrepreneurship module in the KAB programme and, in partnership with the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the organisiation a “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” competition in Central America.
Young women in particular often face multiple barriers and constraints when they are in the process of starting up a small business. Gender inequality and gender discrimination in the labour market is common in many countries and is one of the major inhibiting factors to the goal of decent and productive work for all women and men. The ILO’s Women Entrepreneurship Development (WED) strategy promotes targeted approaches and tools to ensure that women and men have equal access to entrepreneurship and decent work opportunities. The family of Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality (WEDGE) training programmes are plenty with key one such as the support to Growth Oriented Women Entrepreneurs (GOWEs), Gender and Entrepreneurship Together: Get Ahead for Women in Enterprise (GET Ahead), the gender sensitive value chain analysis (GSVCA), the Improve Your Exhibition Skills (IYES) and the WED capacity building guide for service providers.