With a youth population of more than 200 million in the Arab world, the key to sustainable development in the region lies in the involvement of youth in social entrepreneurship and community programs. This was the central message of a PepsiCo-sponsored panel discussion at the recently-concluded CSR Summit 2014 in Dubai.
The panel, “Youth Engagement in Development: How Social Entrepreneurs are Making a Difference,” included representatives from PepsiCo, the Synergos Institute, and two leading social entrepreneurs among its speakers. The panel focused on the importance of engaging youth, who represent the majority population in the Middle East, in social enterprise and community development.
The region’s youth population is a key asset, particularly in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which have a high youth demographic. There is a need to create local business initiatives and social enterprise programs based on their specific requirements. Partnerships must be developed at all levels to promote skill development and job readiness and creation for the youth. This is critical to the sustainable development of the communities where the youth are the most impacted by unemployment.
Last year PepsiCo forged a partnership with The Synergos Institute to promote the development of social entrepreneurship in the Arab world. Under the agreement, PepsiCo supports Synergo’s “Arab World Social Innovators Program (AWSI).” The program is designed to provide support and guidance for the Arab youth running social enterprises. Through the program, PepsiCo provides financial assistance and mentorship to 12 social entrepreneurs.
The model has already been deployed successfully in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa to help social entrepreneurs come up with social innovations that drive grassroots change in their communities. The CSR Summit, now in its 11th year, brings together CSR professionals from across the region to debate, discuss and learn about industry best practices.
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