Type of practice:
UNDP’s human mobility and youth teams at the Bangkok Regional Hub joined forces with IOM, UN-Habitat, MFA and APRRN to support young people across the Asia-Pacific in developing social entrepreneurial solutions benefitting migrants, displaced people and host communities among the urban poor. The innovation challenge is part of a human mobility programme that pursues area-based interventions in contexts of broad marginalization and exclusion with high numbers of mobile populations.
Thematic priorities were jobs and income; social cohesion; climate change and disasters; and essential services. Demonstrating the involvement of target populations – i.e., migrants, displaced people and/or host communities – as participants in project design was a criterion in the application and selection process. Of the 150 applications obtained, 39 teams with promising solutions, more than half of which were women-led, received support to develop their ideas into sustainable social enterprises through a training, mentorship and incubation programme. At the end, the teams pitched their solutions to an independent jury, with the 5 winning teams receiving financial resources and further mentorship for prototyping. Others were granted access to an online repository of courses relevant to social entrepreneurship. The winning teams work with refugees (India and Indonesia); stateless people (Malaysia); and broader urban poor populations (Bangladesh and Philippines).
Benefit and Impact
The 39 participating teams have demonstrated that they are now better equipped to pursue social enterprise pathways in general, and those that benefit mobile populations specifically. They:
- are more aware of social and environmental issues and how they can contribute to the SDGs through social enterprises;
- have a deeper appreciation of the concept of social entrepreneurship;
- have a stronger understanding of how human-centered design can be used to address social and/or environmental issues; and
- have developed their solutions further to the specific challenges faced by diverse mobile populations and marginalized host communities.
The 5 winning teams have received funding and additional mentorship support to prototype their solutions. These are:
- Borneo Komrad, which invests the profits from marketing and selling dried fish products into providing educational opportunities for stateless children in Malaysia;
- Peacebuilding Project, which produces reusable sanitary napkins to generate income and menstrual health support for refugee women in India;
- Project Kanlong, which provides micro-mobile housing units for urban poor populations with access to services and livelihoods in the Philippines;
- Garbageman, which integrates waste handlers and scrap dealers into a formalized supply chain for waste management in Bangladesh; and
- Liberty Society, which empowers refugee women through a training-to-employment model as part of its sustainable fashion enterprise in Indonesia.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
a) Because it applied a proven methodology of UNDP’s Youth Co:Lab process to the human mobility context in Asia-Pacific, resulting in the first-ever youth innovation challenge specifically targeted at mobile and host populations in the region;
b) Because it provided integrated eco-system support to young social entrepreneurs, from functional trainings in business management to thematic support related to human mobility, along with networking opportunities, access to funding and ongoing mentorship, which jointly greatly increased their chances of long-term success.