Youth Business International (YBI) is a global network helping aspiring entrepreneurs in 34 countries, so helping to promote a culture of entrepreneurship is a full time job for our hundreds of staff. Nevertheless the few months leading up to the end of each year are particularly hectic. In November 2011 we celebrated our International YBI Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in London and helped host the internationally recognised Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).
GEW is a huge event for our global network and a huge global campaign. This year YBI members hosted GEW in 11 countries, helping the campaign to reach millions of people in 120 countries.
Globally the challenges and opportunities faced by entrepreneurs are heavily dependent on their circumstances and the wider economic conditions in their country. The GEW campaign varies in style in different countries around the world, but is consistent with an overall message, that despite challenging economic conditions, with the right support, great businesses can flourish even in a recession.
This flexibility goes hand in hand with the grassroots, entrepreneurial nature of GEW. While other campaigns rely on a strong central management, in the case of GEW the campaign develops organically. Tens of thousands of event organisers log on, download the GEW compass and other central resources and begin to bring the campaign to life.
In India YBI member Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST) worked with thousands of school children, to foster a spirit of entrepreneurship in the among young people, while in the Caribbean our strong network of island members hosted a huge range of events targeted at all levels of entrepreneur. Taking one example, the Dominica Youth Business Trust organised a retreat for 23 emerging young entrepreneurs who received expert advice and the opportunity to meet face to face with experts who can support their business. In the UK, YBI was delighted to take over the role of official host and help run a campaign which reached over 213,000 people through over 2300 events.
GEW has a unique ability to reach a huge range of people around the world. But at YBI, were are also always thinking about the other 51 weeks of the year and how to create enterprising climates that help our members to create the businesses of today and the jobs of tomorrow.
That’s why we were so pleased to host YBI Entrepreneur of the Year awards, which reflect months and even years of effort that young entrepreneurs put into building successful businesses. This year’s competition was the strongest ever with a huge range of successful businesses from around our network competing for the title. To give you a flavour of the competition, this year we had finalists from as far afield as Bhutan, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Bangladesh.
The winner was Amir Asor, a young Israeli entrepreneur who has created a business which uses Lego and robotics to help children understand engineering has been selected as the winner of YBI’s global competition for young entrepreneurs.
Young Engineers, which Amir set up in 2007 and now employs 25 people, teaches schoolchildren complex principles through the simple application of Lego models. So far this year more than 2500 children across Israel have received the tuition.
“We selected Amir Asor because his business is innovative, unique and perhaps, most importantly, has the potential to expand greatly in the coming years,” said lead judge Rich Ricci.
Interviewed after the ceremony Amir spoke about how his victory had given him even greater confidence in his business.
“I’m really grateful to the work that YBI does, especially through its local member Keren Shemesh, and I look forward to working with them even more closely in the future – especially as a mentor,” he added.
A key theme of the evening was that despite the challenging economic conditions in many member countries, with the right support many young entrepreneurs are defying the gloom and growing highly innovative and successful businesses.
YBI CEO Andrew Devenport summed up the mood saying: “At a time when youth unemployment is increasingly hitting the headlines, young entrepreneurs like Amir Asor are showing that with the right kind of support, it is possible for young people to take the initiative and not only create employment for themselves but for other people too. The world needs more successful entrepreneurs like Amir, Axel and Juan, and Haja!”