Mentoring for Youth Entrepreneurship in Latin America

Mar 14, 2017 12:15 PM ET

Finding quality jobs for young people in Latin America, especially jobs outside of the informal sector that provide fair wages and just working conditions, is a growing socioeconomic concern. The United Nations reports that Latin America and the Caribbean are experiencing the largest youth population in history with one in five people between the ages of 15-24. The unemployment rate for this age group is three times higher than for people between the ages of 30-64. For many young people, entrepreneurship has become a survival strategy, demonstrated by the fact that small businesses employ 67 percent of the workforce. However, 90 percent of these small businesses fail within the first two years.

MicroMentor, a social enterprise initiative of Mercy Corps, presents a solution by creating a nexus between budding young entrepreneurs and the resources they need to build sustainable businesses through mentoring. The results thus far have been encouraging. Through the MicroMentor platform, young entrepreneurs who receive mentoring support from professionals in the private and public sectors report increased skills development, increased access to external resources, and overall improved business outcomes. Participating mentors report building their own skills and expertise while their employers find them to be more engaged and productive.

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