Young entrepreneurs become the drivers of business integrity in Asia and the Pacific
April 6, 2023
Could young entrepreneurs be the drivers of change for business integrity in Asia and the Pacific? At UNDP, we strongly believe they can, and we empower them to start their own business on the right foot and become integrity leaders. Here is why.
First, youth have a growing awareness of the quality of products they consume, with an increasing interest in issues like human rights, the environment, and social inclusion in the supply chains. Second, there are many youth-led SMEs in the region, and Southeast Asian startups are booming with success. With 660 million youth, of which one-fourth are neither in employment nor in training, many are pushed to start a business. Nonetheless, youth in the region are among the groups most affected by corruption: 30% of all young people have experienced it in the last 12 months, and three-fourths feel that corruption is holding their country back. However, they remain optimistic: 80% feel they could make a change[i].
Building on this optimism, the young entrepreneurs' strong appetite for business integrity and a scarcity of supporting knowledge materials, UNDP’s FairBiz and Youth Co:Lab, co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation, joined hands to develop the Business Integrity Toolkit - For Young Social Entrepreneurs in 2019, with the support of the UK Government, the ASEAN Economic Reform Programme. The Toolkit provides young or aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledge in achieving impact and better business results with integrity. The first edition soon became one of the most downloaded Knowledge Products on the UNDP Asia Pacific Digital Library. However, the feedback from entrepreneurs indicated that the 100-page PDF was hard to navigate. In addition, it followed a prescriptive process rather than a desired additive approach.
To render the Toolkit more accessible, UNDP redesigned it with partners and entrepreneurs, including a cohort of passionate youth that revamped it by adding the gender lens to business integrity and making it more suitable for their needs.
The new version came out Coursera-style, handy and interactive, on the Youth Co:Lab Learning Platform. The various real-life scenarios provide guidance on how to behave in bribery, workplace harassment, modern slavery and child labour, gender issues, discrimination, and whistleblowing.
The revised Toolkit was presented at the FairBiz Regional Event on Sustaining and Upscaling a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN in November 2022, where the heads of anti-corruption agencies have also recognized the importance of youth as agents of change in anti-corruption and integrity efforts through education and adoption of business integrity into their companies.
The young have the most to lose from not advancing the transparency and integrity agenda. Business integrity protects young entrepreneurs and their companies and is essential for the long-term success of any business. Young entrepreneurs have the energy, vision, and motivation to reduce corruption by being integrity role models, which brings uncontestable benefits for their companies and society. Now, they are also equipped with the right tools to do it.
Click here for the Business Integrity Toolkit For Young Entrepreneurs.
[i] Asia Pacific youth: integrity in crisis -… - Transparency.org
FairBiz is the UNDP’s project for “Promoting a Fair Business Environment in ASEAN”, funded by the UK Government, the ASEAN Economic Reform Programme, which brings together stakeholders from government, the private sector and CSOs in ASEAN to co-create that environment, supported by technical expertise and other resources.
About Youth Co:Lab
Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth, so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Learn more at www.youthcolab.org or follow @youthcolab
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