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Citi Foundation supporting innovation and startups

Released at: 18:50, 22/06/2018

Citi Foundation supporting innovation and startups

Photo: Citi

Foundation, UNDP and Ministry of Science and Technology take Youth Co: Lab Vietnam 2018 to HCMC after launch in Hanoi.

by Linh San

The UNDP, the Citi Foundation, and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) have become co-leads in delivering Youth Co: Lab Vietnam 2018.

Following its launch in Hanoi on June 15, the Youth Co: Lab Diagnostic workshop moved to Ho Chi Minh City’s Saigon Innovation Hub on June 22 to bring all major players in the impact startup ecosystem together and plot a course to foster the growth of the sector and connect startups to the business of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The UNDP will open applications for the SDG Innovations Incubator and selected teams will receive an intensive business incubation and impact acceleration program as well as the opportunity to pitch their ideas to national and international investors,” Ms. Akiko Fujii, the UNDP’s Deputy Country Director in Vietnam, said in her opening remarks.

“Entrepreneurship aspirations don’t just come to life on their own,” said Citi Vietnam’s Head of Public Affairs Mr. Bui Quang Huy in speaking about the Citi Foundation’s commitment to young people. “Young people say they need a few things, including the right skills for the right jobs and the right policies in place, and they would like mentoring and guidance along the way. That is why the Citi Foundation has committed to invest $100 million to support 500,000 young people to become career-ready and employable by 2020.”

Citi is mobilizing 10,000 of its employees as volunteer mentors and coaches to provide professional advice to help young people towards their career goals. Citi calls this the “Pathways to Progress” initiative and Youth Co: Lab is part of this global initiative to foster an ecosystem that will enable social and economic pathways for young people to succeed in the cities.

Events in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City brought together experts from the private sector, the government, NGOs, investment firms, social entrepreneurs, startup incubators, and guests from Thailand and Malaysia to develop a set of recommendations for all sectors to help build social impact startups in Vietnam to address some of the biggest challenges the country faces.

The program also includes a series of exciting activities to train and mentor young Vietnamese. Up to 130 young people from across the country will be trained in design thinking, 21st century skills, social innovation, and SDG entrepreneurship, in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City later this month. The Youth Co: Lab program strongly focuses on “leaving no one behind”. One-third of participants are young people from rural and mountainous areas, people with disabilities, the deaf and hearing-impaired, LGBTI people, ethnic minorities, and people living with HIV.

Vietnam has seen huge growth in startups in recent years, with 3,000 registered in 2017. Despite this growth, the social impact startup ecosystem lags behind other leaders in the region in terms of a coordinated national approach, such as in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

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