Young people who start new enterprises are creating jobs for themselves and reaching their personal goals. However, lack of experience and resources mean that a high percentage of these efforts fail during the first few months of operation. To reduce the failure rate of youth enterprises and address critical issues during the start-up process, the public and private sectors are increasing their efforts to support young people by providing training, technical assistance and small credits. To support these efforts, the Inter-American Development Bank has carried out various studies to gain a better understanding of entrepreneurship, and undertaken projects that seek new models to encourage entrepreneurship.
This paper highlights the importance of youth entrepreneurship in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by young entrepreneurs. The authors estimate the current number of young entrepreneurs in the region and present indicators, such as education, gender and income. The study also reviews the scope and quality of policies and programs that governments, development agencies and civil society are implementing to support young entrepreneurs.
This paper represents a first step in what we hope will become an ongoing discussion about how to create a better regulatory environment and more cost-effective programs to encourage young people interested in becoming entrepreneurs. Given the various areas that require reforms (ranging from education and professional training to financing and other shortcomings), we expect that this discussion will become multidisciplinary. We invite the public and private organizations of the region to help us maintain an active de-bate by providing their thoughts, ideas and experiences on how to improve the scope and quality of initiatives to promote youth entrepreneurship.