Young people will need to be a key part of the COVID-19 recovery journey in Asia-Pacific, particularly social entrepreneurs. However, navigating corruption and fraud in already weakened economies will make that a difficult journey. To help them, two regional initiatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have developed a business integrity toolkit for young entrepreneurs.
The toolkit walks young entrepreneurs through the challenges and costs of corruption. It offers practical steps and resources on how to create and ensure business integrity. In the coming months, it will be used to develop further tools and opportunities to support young people in this complicated time.
Asia-Pacific is home to over 700 million young people, half of whom are unemployed. Starting a business is one way to build a livelihood and create jobs for others in the process. Asia has one of the highest rates young people setting up a business in the world, and 40 percent employ other people.
Corruption and fraud are a great challenge for young entrepreneurs in Asia-Pacific. Bribes are costly and know how to circumvent red tape is a skill learned with time.
The UNDP works with countries to address causes of and implement projects to counter corruption. Here too young people are the key to create long-term, sustainable change.
Young people understand the cost of corruption and fraud fully. A 2014 survey led by World Economic Forum’s Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime showed that 72 percent of millennials – defined as young people aged between 18 and 34 – believe corruption is holding back their country, while 72 percent thinks it is causing lost opportunities for their generation.
This reality has been made more devastating by the COVID-19 crisis. Young people are among the hardest hit. In March 2020, Youth Co:Lab surveyed 410 young social entrepreneurs across 18 countries in Asia-Pacific. Nine out of 10 reported that COVID-19 had negatively affected their business. Only 9.5 percent reported that their business had received a tax break, loan, grant, subsidy or other forms of support.
“The reality is that the Sustainable Development Goals are unlikely to be attained without also substantially reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms. Across Asia and the Pacific, young entrepreneurs are setting up their businesses for the first time, and we owe it to them to offer a level playing field and a fair business environment that unequivocally rewards hard work and ingenuity,” said Valerie Cliff, UNDP Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
As part of the launch, a webinar, Leading with Integrity, will be organised on Thursday from 1-2:15 pm Phnom Penh time.
Young entrepreneurs, and young people overall, need to be an integral part of building back the economies and societies of Asia-Pacific after COVID-19. This toolkit promises to give them a guide to do so in a way that ensures we build back better.