Colombo, 10 March 2020: Today’s generation of adolescents and youth stands at 1.8 billion people – the largest our world has ever seen. Most of these young people live in developing countries. The energy, enthusiasm, and innovation of this large youth generation can bring a huge demographic dividend to countries and to our world.
To receive dividends however one has to invest – and for youth that means investments in education and skills training and in all the other services which widen opportunity.
It also means a commitment to inclusion - economic, social, and political. Without conducive environments and the right policies in place, a demographic dividend won’t be realized. Yet it so easily can be – with the right policies and approaches, including on youth entrepreneurship. The alternative isn’t appealing – a generation with many unemployed and disengaged.
Globally, more than one fifth of young people are not in employment, education or training. That is why it is so critical to take fresh approaches to entrepreneurship, and to equip today’s youth with the skills to create their own jobs – and, as they succeed, to create jobs for others too.
In this context, Facebook recently partnered with the United Nations Development Programme to support youth social innovation in Sri Lanka through the HackaDev programme in 2019/2020.
“We’re excited to partner with UNDP to support the thriving local ecosystem. Facebook is committed to building an impactful developer community in Sri Lanka and believe it is important to support businesses, startups and the individuals who are driving innovation to grow and succeed. We are confident that this partnership will support a vibrant and transformative technology community in the country” said, Yasas Vishuddhi Abeywickrama, Policy Programs Manager for Sri Lanka, Facebook.
HackaDev in a nutshell, is a crowd-sourcing exercise for sustainable development solutions. It is a platform that brings together youth from across Sri Lanka to design innovative solutions to a development challenge.
Facebook supported this effort considering its focus towards supporting entrepreneurs, SMEs and the startup economy in Sri Lanka. Facebook’s partnership also broadens to being a partner of the CITRA Innovation Lab, which is a co-financed initiative by UNDP and Ministry of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation.
More recently, Facebook also extended its support to UNDP’s ‘National Youth Dialogue on Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship’ which was held on 26 February 2020, which brought together 300 young people from across the country.
Speaking about this partnership, Fadhil Bakeer Markar, Policy and Engagement Team Leader at UNDP in Sri Lanka stated, “Young people are central to the work we do at UNDP. Today we are constantly looking for new ways to strengthen the youth entrepreneurship eco-system in the country. As such, we are pleased to partner with Facebook and be able to provide more support to young entrepreneurs in the country.”
UNDP’s National Dialogue in Sri Lanka was convened in partnership with the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, National Youth Services Council (NYSC), Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka, Citi, Cisco, IdeaMart, WHO Sri Lanka, UNESCO New Delhi Office, UNICEF Sri Lanka, UNV Sri Lanka, HackaDev, Technopreneurship for Social Change, Youth Co:Lab, Citra Social Innovation Lab, and Generation Unlimited.