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Youth Co:Lab Vietnam 2018 kicks off

Released at: 09:22, 17/06/2018

Youth Co:Lab Vietnam 2018 kicks off

Photo: UNDP Vietnam

UNDP, the Citi Foundation, and Ministry of Science and Technology co-leads in startup support program.

by Ngoc Lan

Vietnam has the third-largest startup scene in Southeast Asia but its social impact startup ecosystem continues to lag behind leaders in the region, such as Thailand and Malaysia, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). To solve this challenge, UNDP, the Citi Foundation, and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) have become co-leads in delivering Youth Co:Lab Vietnam 2018.

The launch of the Youth Co:Lab initiative was held in Hanoi on June 15 and attended by Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Tran Van Tung, the UNDP’s Vietnam Country Director, Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, and Senior Vice President - Head of Corporate Affairs at Citi Vietnam, Mr. Bui Quang Huy.

The Youth Co:Lab initiative is looking for the next generation of leading social entrepreneurs in Vietnam, following on from the success of the SDG Challenge in 2017, where four Vietnamese startups received over $85,000 in equity-free seed funding and a year-long business incubation program.

The Youth Co:Lab program will 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).

At the launch, Ms. Wiesen said that a vibrant startup ecosystem and skilling are keys to unleashing the creative energies of young people in meeting the most pressing SDG challenges in Vietnam. “The UNDP will open up applications for SDG Innovations Incubator and selected teams will receive an intensive business incubation and impact acceleration program as well as opportunities to pitch their ideas to national and international investors,” she said.

Deputy Minister Tung said that social impact businesses both make profit and have a positive effect on the community. “With their ability to adapt and replicate quickly around the world, these innovative businesses are the best models to tackle social challenges, create social impact, and accelerate the achievement of the UN SDGs,” he said.

Mr. Huy spoke of Citibank’s commitment to youth and noted that entrepreneurship aspirations don’t just come to life on their own. Young people have told the bank they need certain things, including the right skills for the right jobs and the right policies in place, and would like mentoring and guidance along the way. “Which is why the Citi Foundation has committed to investing $100 million to support 500,000 young people to become career-ready and employable by 2020,” he said.

The Youth Co:Lab program will be kicked off by other high level diagnostic events in Ho Chi Minh City on June 22, bringing together experts from the private sector, the government, NGOs, investment firms, social entrepreneurs, and startup incubators, as well as guests from Thailand and Malaysia, and developing a set of recommendations for all sectors to help build social impact startups in Vietnam to address some of the greatest 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 around Vietnam 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, communities of people with disabilities, the hearing-impaired, LGBT people, ethnic minorities, and people living with HIV.

A wide range of partners are on board and contribute in different ways to making the initiative a success and reaching out to as many young people as possible, including UP Coworking Space, the Center for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 2030 Youth Force, AIESEC, and Vietnam Airlines.

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