In March 2012, the Export-Import Bank of China (China Eximbank) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) announced that an approximately $1 billion investment fund to promote sustainable economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) would be operational this year. The joint project will invest in the public and private sectors and focus primarily on infrastructure, projects on energy and natural resources, and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
At the root of sustainable development is the notion that economies can still grow without endangering resources and the environment for future generations. However, although discussions about economic resources and the environment dominate the spotlight, the central role of future generations, or youth, in driving that notion and identifying related solutions is often relegated to the background.
Leslie Forman grew up in Silicon Valley, California, as the daughter of two serial startup veterans. She lived in China for several years and worked in diverse industries, such as advertising, consulting, corporate social responsibility and education. In 2011, she moved to Chile to take part in Start-Up Chile—a government-sponsored entrepreneurship program.
Given her unique background, Leslie has a coveted window into many worlds. She recently shared some valuable insights related to her entrepreneurial experiences and vision to connect Chile, China, California and beyond.
At the end of February, Americas Society released a white paper titled Bringing Youth into Labor Markets: Public-Private Efforts amid Insecurity and Migration as a part of its Social Inclusion Program. This white paper presents the findings of Americas Society’s Ford Foundation-funded research on innovative practices that foster youth access to formal labor markets. The report highlights innovative private-sector programs that promote youth employment as well as public policy efforts to foster opportunities for young workers in El Salvador and Mexico—countries grappling with youth unemployment along with security and migration challenges. The focus is on initiatives that further skills training, entrepreneurship, and support for at-risk youth.
• Mechanisms should be established to subject private-sector led programs to rigorous evaluations with the goal of ensuring the continuity of successful initiatives.
• The private and public sectors should provide incentives, such as guaranteed internships/apprenticeships or education scholarships, for youth who study the skills that nationwide employment trend forecasts determine are in highest demand.
• Nationally recognized accreditation systems in technical and non-technical skills should be created so that young job-seekers and employers can verify employment preparedness.
• Employers must reverse the bias and discrimination that prevents the hiring of at-risk youth.
Access the full white paper: Bringing Youth into Labor Markets: Public-Private Efforts amid Insecurity and Migration.
Unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean dropped to 6.8 percent in 2011 from 7.3 percent in 2010 and reached its lowest levels in most countries since the mid-1990s, according to the International Labor Organization (ILO) recent report Panorama Laboral 2011. The report also projects unemployment numbers to remain stable in much of the region through the end of 2012.
“There is no doubt that unemployment rate trends have been very positive in recent years, which should help the region develop labor markets that not only generate more jobs, but better ones,” said the regional director the ILO’s Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, Elizabeth Tinoco.
Despite notable progress, nearly 16 million urban Latin Americans remain out of work and joblessness among specific demographic groups—particularly youth—is three times higher than national averages. "The economic and social progress of recent years is unsustainable if policymakers don’t face the challenge of creating better opportunities for young people", says Tinoco.
Please find the original text below, submitted in Portuguese.
Brazil’s black community faces many social and political problems, but a lack of economic opportunities is what most prevents this population from climbing the income ladder. According to Brazil’s National Association of Collective Black Entrepreneurs (Associação Nacional dos Coletivos de Empreendedores Negros, or ANCEABRA), the majority of Afro-Brazilians are in the informal workforce because of a lack of opportunities in the formal sector. Many Afro-Brazilians also face difficulty in opening legitimate, lasting businesses, with ANCEABRA reporting that only 3.8 percent of Afro-Brazilians identify professionally as entrepreneurs.
Why are Afro-Brazilians unsuccessful as entrepreneurs? Three factors are at play: a lack of societal encouragement to become entrepreneurs; family members without any history in creating their own enterprises; and, above all, the persistent difficulty of accessing capital. Brazil also has never had a public policy that sought to specifically promote black-managed enterprises.
This systemic problem presents a form of “black invisibility” in the business sector. This invisibility stands in stark contrast to Brazil’s position as one of the top-five countries in terms of entrepreneurship. Brazil’s enviable ranking puts it ahead of several enterprising European countries—yet most of these Brazilian enterprises are neither started nor managed by Afro-Brazilians.
But there’s more to this great challenge. A survey by the Ethos Institute showed that female Afro-Brazilians comprise only 0.5 percent of the top corporate executives of the 500 largest companies in Brazil. Our country, which proudly presents itself as a multicultural and multiracial nation, is ranking behind nations with similar ethnic compositions.
Listen to a series of interviews with stakeholders in three countries of the CARICOM economic zone: Guyana, Jamaica and St. Kitts & Nevis.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.