Junior Enterprises, Decent Work and Economic Growth

7 - 9 - 2018

Gabriel Caldas Profile Image
By Gabriel Caldas

2018 Communications Manager at the Junior Enterprise Global Council. Brazilian Junior Entrepreneur and former participant of the JE Exchange Program in Tunisia.

During the Junior Enterprise Global Forum 2018, our global strategy was co-created in order to define the efforts of the Junior Enterprise Global Council until 2021. We were conscious that different realities require different solutions, but we felt that we needed something to fight for and share responsibilities.

The Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, during a conference of the United Nations, global leaders defined a universal call for governments, organisations and civil society in order to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people will enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030: the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals have lots of targets and indicator so that it can be easily measured and many times they are connected to each other.

During the Global Forum, three of these goals were defined as the main focus of our movement in the next strategic planning, since they are measurable, universal and aligned to the impact we want to generate. Today we are going to talk about the relation between the JEs and the SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Many targets were established in order to achieve this goal, and as it was said before they are closely related to each other, but in this article the focus will be those that are directly under the light of the junior enterprises’ impact.

Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors;

The main indicator for this target is the growth rate of real GDP per capita. The junior enterprises have a great role in this topic, mainly when it comes to economic productivity. The projects and services offered by students can deliver results that many times, would not be available for many entrepreneurs in another way. Thus, the junior entrepreneurs are key agents to promote the improvement of many micro- and small- enterprises around the world, fomenting their productivity and generating micro-revolutions and economical development to the society.

Besides that, there is a great stimulus for innovative services and interdisciplinary in the junior enterprise movement, since many confederations support the co-creation of services by JEs from different fields. It not only brings better solutions to the market, but also strengths the network and its impact with more and better projects.

Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalisation and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services;

By increasing the number of projects, the junior enterprises are able to help an increasing number of enterprises, mainly the micro- small- and medium-sized ones, since their services tends to be cheaper, even though they have a very high quality level. These enterprises are the ones that face more difficulties to operate and with the services developed by junior entrepreneurs, they can work sustainably and offer better products and services for their communities as well as creating more and better jobs.

By 2030, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training;

The unemployment of young people is such a problem everywhere in the world. It is quite hard for them to find a job and when they find, in hard moments, they are generally the first ones to be fired because of the lack of experience. The junior enterprises can work in this pillar by offering them an entrepreneurial and global mindset, so that the youth will be more prepared, not only to enter the workforce, but also to be protagonists and innovator that will create impact new solutions for our societies. Besides that, when the Junior Enterprises make more and better projects, it is expected that their turnover will increase and it is essential for them, since, as non-profit organisation, this money can be used to develop the junior entrepreneurs’ skills.

The real experience in a junior enterprise by leading a team, selling a project and developing it is quite important to empower the youth. But beyond the JEs, it is quite important to understand that the majority of the jobs are created by small enterprises, which are the main clients of the Junior Enterprises. So, it is logical to say that by improving their state, the junior entrepreneurs indirectly creates jobs opportunities for young people that are not directly involved with the junior enterprises.

By 2030, develop and operationalize a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organisation;

The International Labour Organisation is a branch of the United Nations that is responsible mainly for promoting social justice as well as human and labour rights internationally. Since 2009, it adopts the Global Jobs Pact. This document has a portfolio aiming to generate employment, extending social protection, respecting labour standards, promoting social dialog and shaping fair globalisation.

The junior enterprise movement has a great potential to impact on these points. By doing more and better projects, it is possible to build better enterprises, what reduces the employment rates and empower people. Besides that, this impact can promote the social dialog since the junior enterprises niche is mainly people that cannot have their projects done by the traditional market. Finally, our impact can be measured in our turnover that represents our impact in the economy and considering we are becoming a global movement; our network can become a good dialog space about creating inclusive opportunities and therefore, a fair globalisation.

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

Today, junior enterprises are doing more projects than ever, so our impact as a movement is getting quite significative. However, there are still many differences among the countries. In countries like Brazil, the number of projects per junior enterprise in a year is 20, what is the third higher rate in the world, however, the turnover by member is 290 dollars, what is the third smallest one. European countries, by the other hand, the situation tends to be the opposite.

In this context, many confederations are proposing the expansion of the number of projects delivered to the society as well as their junior enterprises’ turnover, since they understand the economic impact it can generate in their countries. Brazil for example is creating a new strategy that must keep focusing in this pillar since their results have been quite good in the last three years and is even creating the concept of high impact projects. Another example is the Agreement of Lyon, signed by the confederations in Europe in order to promote junior enterprises with higher profit as well as a goal not only for the number of projects, but also for the number of collaborative projects, made by two or more different JEs. It is expected that the network will deliver 5750 projects a year, instead of the current value of 4350, representing an increase of 32%.

Bringing It All Together

This is just a glimpse of our purpose for 2021, we are also involved with two other SDGs, and if we consider that many of those goals are closely related to each other, maybe our impact in next years will be even greater than we can expect. By now, we simply cannot answer this question, but we will keep working, step by step, with the certainty that we are going further than ever and that we are more global than ever. We are still very far from where we want to go, but at the same time we are pragmatic, we can also feel free to be idealists and dream about the day that the junior enterprises will be recognized as an important player for promoting the global development and the decent job wherever they are present.

Photo Credits: CNJE & JEToP

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