International Youth Day: celebrating the power of youth entrepreneurs

12th August 2018

Over half of the world’s population are under the age of 30. They are the biggest youth generation ever.

Globally, over 600 million young people are unemployed or not in education or training. This figure is set to grow.

For many young people, self-employment and micro-enterprise offers a route out of poverty and poor working conditions.

By delivering business planning and finance training and providing access to seed funding and other forms of microfinance, young volunteers from Raleigh International are helping their peers find sustained, safe, dignified and fair work through entrepreneurship.

Meet some of the young entrepreneurs who have been supported by Raleigh volunteers to set up or expand their businesses.


“I now understand how to account for all of the incomings and outgoings of the business more accurately and have a better understanding of where the possibilities lie for growing my business. There is nothing better than working in your own business.”

Raleigh volunteers supported Francisco to set up a hairdressing business by providing training on business planning and finance. He also received seed funding from Raleigh to launch his business, which he used to buy essentials such as clippers, scissors, a barber’s chair and mirror.

Francisco is now so successful that barbershops in neighbouring towns have tried to recruit him. But he prefers to be his own boss.


Eda used to run a coffee shop, but demand dropped. After receiving support from a team of Raleigh volunteers in business skills and acounting, and with access to microcredit,  Eda was able to set up a new business selling dairy products.

From queso (hard cheese) to requezon (cream cheese), and cuajeda (wet cheese) to cream, dairy products have proved profitable for Eda. People even travel from other villages to buy them.

Eda plans to grow her business by buying a refrigerator so that she can produce larger batches of product and keep them fresher for longer.  She is now a recognised business woman in her community and is training to be a mentor for other entrepreneurs.


In the village of San Jose Palmira, Mercedes and her husband can be found busily working away on ‘El Buen Sabor’ – the name of their fruit and vegetable garden which essentially translates as ‘Good Taste’. Back in May 2016, Mercedes was awarded seed funding by Raleigh International to launch her fruit and vegetable business. Volunteers were also on hand to help the mother-of-one, providing training sessions and support to get her business off the ground.

She started by planting 100 tomato plants in a plot of land adjacent to her house – now she has well over 1,200. Her business has grown rapidly and the profits she has made have enabled her to diversify and start growing and selling different crops.  With an extra income boost from further microcredit, Mercedes hopes to diversify her patch even further and buy different varieties of pumpkin plants and fruit trees such as mango, papaya, banana, plantain and avocado.


Gift’s mobile banking business enbles her community to get cash and transfer money. Previously, they had to travel into the next town to do this. Having Gift and her business in the village saves the community time and money – it is only one-third of the cost for them.

Gift spent attended Raleigh’s 10-week livelihoods programme, where young volunteers from the UK and Tanzania work with rural youth who have aspirations of setting up and developing their own small enterprises.

“Today my thinking is expanded. I know how to increase my customer base and improve my profit. In five or ten years I will be a big entrepreneur managing five different mobile businesses, being able to handle much higher amounts of cash and transactions.”

Cesilia and Asha

Cesilia and Asha took part in Raleigh’s ten-week livelihoods programme in Tanzania. During this programme, Raleigh volunteers supported a range of young people improve their livelihoods. Some community members already had defined, small enterprises that they wanted to improve and/or grow, while others were looking to develop their own small enterprise that didn’t previously yet exist. Volunteers provided training and education for young people to equip them with the resilience to cope with the challenges they may face in meeting their livelihood needs.

Tailors Cesilia and Asha discovered that by working in partnership they could form a new, more successful business.

“We decided to go into a tailoring business together because we understand each other. Everyone has a strong point: we can combine our strongest skills to do well together.” – Cesilia.


Fazilah tool part in Raleigh’s ‘Sustainable Alternative Livelihoods for Youth in Borneo’ (SALY-B) project which trains young people in both modern conservation techniques and entrepreneurship. By establishing ‘green’ enterprises, young people have the opportunity to start businesses that complement their natural environment and communities.

Fazilah’s wants to follow her grandfather in business by building a bird’s nest house for swiftlets to establish their nests in. Housing the birds and harvesting the nests in an eco-friendly way forms the core of her business plan. She will plant trees around the house and dig a pond underneath it to provide natural cooling to encourage swiftlets to nest in her house.

Her business idea comes from selling her nests locally as there is a large demand for this product which is believed to deliver many health benefits, including nutrients which aid the immune system, skin health, new cell growth and respiratory health. Products which she intends to develop herself in future include birds’ nest soup, cosmetics and other health products. As her business grows she will add capacity and consider export to China.

Wild nest harvesting can be incredibly damaging to swift populations, but Fazilah’s plan will create a secure artificial nesting site and she will only collect nests that have been used and abandoned. This ethical approach will help boost swift populations in the local area.

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