Entrepreneurship as Opportunity to Integrate Migrant Youth Highlighted at Key Stakeholder Roundtable

Young migrant entrepreneurs sat with key stakeholders during a roundtable in Washington D.C., today and addressed the value of strengthening the entrepreneurial capacity of migrants and young people to build more socio-economically resilient communities.

Participants emphasized the powerful impact that entrepreneurship programs have had in integrating young people into communities in Latin America and the Caribbean and enhancing their economic productivity. Both public and private sector representatives offered ideas on their participation to expand regional entrepreneurial programming for migrants and host communities.

“Entrepreneurship, in addition to an economic opportunity, is an educational experience, a tool in youth’s survival tool kit. Through entrepreneurship talent moves freely, as young, global-minded individuals contribute to the creation of a barrier-free world through their endeavors,” said Federico Arellano, a young entrepreneur from Mexico now based in Canada, who began Pitch Jams, a software company that allows a worldwide exchange of ideas.

Roundtable participants included representatives of civil society, multilateral banks, agencies, foundations, private sector, the Summit of the Americas secretariat and Permanent Missions to the Organization of American States (OAS) and development community actors. This Roundtable event titled “Youth on the Move: Youth Entrepreneurship as a Tool for Socio-Economic Integration of Migrants and Refugees”, was organized by the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and USA for IOM.

“We embrace the invaluable role and engagement of youth as strategic partners in the Summits Process. By actively involving you – the youth in our endeavors, we pave the way for a profound impact that extends to all corners of our hemisphere. Together, we embark on a journey of collaboration, planting the seeds of partnerships that hold the promise of blossoming into collective efforts,” said María Celina Conte, Director of the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, OAS, who opened the session.

“Youth entrepreneurship initiatives have proven positive impacts on youths and communities to spur growth and investment,” said Luis Viguria, CEO of Young Americas Business Trust. “This holds true in programming with young migrant entrepreneurs, who can use their unique talents to benefit their new communities.

The roundtable discussion explored enhancing strategy, programming and partnerships for development, with aim to incorporate migrants and refugees into local economies, thereby sharing knowledge and skills and creating new market opportunities and cross-border networks. Participants also highlighted how entrepreneurship can directly contribute to addressing the consequences of large movements of forcibly displaced people.

“Collaboration across sectors is essential to enhance the impact of efforts to promote economic opportunities for migrant populations,” said María Moreno, CEO of USA for IOM. “Investment in entrepreneurship has great potential to accelerate the integration of migrants in host communities and create long-term solutions.”

Discussion moderator Francisco Martínez, IOM Economic Reintegration Officer, emphasized the importance of reinforcing the technical capacities and soft skills of migrants to facilitate their entrepreneurial endeavors and integration.

The discussions fostered stronger linkages between the migrant community and the upcoming Young Americas Forum at the 2024 Summit of the Americas. This alignment is facilitated through support of both the public and private sectors.

Economic opportunities for migrant populations are critical to support livelihoods and contribute to host communities. This holds true in the Americas, as following the crisis in Venezuela, 7.7 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees are living outside their country; more than 6.5 million Venezuelans reside in Latin America and the Caribbean.

USA for IOM and YABT are organizing the “Innovation Challenge: Youth on the Move” a regional innovation competition that will provide financial skills training, opportunities for seed capital and will identify, support, and accelerate innovative ideas and new business models driven by young people. The competition and training offered aim to strengthen host communities of the Venezuelan migrant, refugee, and displaced population in Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Peru, for this first edition of the program.

For more information, please contact:

Edgar Maestre at YABT: edgar.maestre@yabt.net

Luciano Arroio at USA for IOM: larroio@iom.int


Photos: © USA for IOM, by Liliana Serrano @ Serrano Studios DC