“Ways to Achieve Professional Success”
03 May 2019, 9:00 a.m.
Opening statement by Dr (Ms) Pratibha Mehta,
UNDP Resident Representative in Tajikistan
Dear Mr. Ahtam Abdullozoda, Chairman of the Committee on Youth and Sports Affairs
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a great pleasure to be here today and to speak at this important event organized jointly with the Committee on Youth and Sports Affairs and other government agencies.
Today, three fourth of the world population is young. Imagine if we can give wings to their dreams, dynamism and idealism and ability to disrupt set patters how far they can fly and how much they can contribute in making this world prosperous, peaceful and happy place for all. This is the reason why young men and women are at the heart of the SDGs agenda and UNDP is globally investing in empowering young men and women to become catalyst of change for sustainable development.
Tajikistan, with its 70% youth population has a special demographic advantage which must be capitalized on. The National Development Strategy 2030, which is closely aligned with SDGs, envisages an increased role of the private sector and youth in socio-economic development and calls for multifaceted reforms in economy, governance and rule of law to un-lease the enterprenurial potential of young men and women in rural and urban areas by building their vocational skills, capacity to innovate and create conditions for fair competition and ease of doing business. These objectives have been repeatedly highlighted in various statements made by President, H.E. Emomali Rahmon on various occasions.
Concept of Enterprenurhsip is not new, but globalization, technology, speed of transferring knowledge, innovations is rapidly changing the ways and tools of doing business and every country need to adapt to the fast-changing development landscape.
UNDP has also ben adapting its support to Tajikistan. This year we are celebrating 25 years of our cooperation and efforts for socio-economic empowerment of Tajik people. We started mainly with humanitarian assistance, post-conflict recovery of the country and peace-building. From 2000 to 2015, when UN adopted MDGs, we started focusing on poverty reduction, livelihood support, access to microcredit, construction of community - based infrastructure and national planning processes. And from 2016, since the adoption of SDGs, we are promoting innovations, from solar powered schools to improved ways to transfer remittances, we are promoting new ways to solve old development problems through new business models, social entrepreneurship, innovations, startups, new partnerships.
UNDP has launched five streams of initiatives engaging young men and women in rural and urban areas to promote empowerment, exchange of knowledge, enterprenurhsip and exposure.
First, we have launched “Business Constructor” Initiative which is a 16 weeks business course for young people to learn by doing, by discovering and constructing their business ideas. Second, we have launched an Accelerator lab called “Entrepreneur 2030” to accelerate learning by linking young enterprenurs to experts from outside the country to create and package innovative ideas for new startups, products and projects. In less than two years, more than 300 young people have benefited and developed 147 startup project ideas. Currently, several experts are working with Tajik young enterprenurs on 25 advanced business projects and supporting them to package their startup projects for presentation to potential investors. Some of them will have an opportunity to present their project ideas later today in this forum.
Third, UNDP, jointly with many partners, including the State Investment Committee, UN Volunteers, Business incubator, Accelerate Prosperity, the Youth Entrepreneurs Club, the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Tajikistan, has established an idea pitching platform called “Start-Up Choikhona”. The Start up Choikhona is a platform for networking, matching business ideas with potential investors, create business partnership. We hope that this initiative will help build a functioning ecosystem for start - ups in Tajikistan. So far seven “Start-Up Choikhona” platforms events have been organized in Dushanbe, Rasht, Sughd and Khatlon and has brought together more than 200 young men and women who had the opportunity to present their start-up ideas to potential investor and as of today, at least 15 commercially feasible business projects have already been launched.
The world is witnessing the fourth industrial revolution driven by knowledge economy, the future will belong to the country which will invest in innovations and digital skills of their youth. Many developing countries, such as Singapore, India, Belarus, Viet Nam, Kyrgyzstan and many other are making huge progress because they started adjusting their policies, vocational training, bank credit, etc. to promote digital economy. Digital jobs do not require big upfront investments and quality digital products can be sold worldwide. So, UNDP’s fourth initiative is to promote digital economy. Recently we organized “Career Opportunities in IT” event to attract more young men and women into IT sector and startups. The event was attended not only by students not only from universities but also schools.
Fifth, using UNDP’s global presence, we are promoting experience sharing and knowledge exchange through study tours of young Tajik entrepreneurs to Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other countries to get acquainted with business incubators and business support organizations in these countries and to learn from their experience. Many of our partners from Eastern Europe, Russia and other countries are ready to work with prospective start-ups of Tajik youth, mentor them and partner with them. We believe that universities can play a catalytical role in grooming the next generation to think out of the box, instil the spirit of innovation, critical thinking and risk-taking ability which can fuel the fourth wave of industrial revolution. UNDP is working closely with universities and techno-parks in Tajikistan to introduce new courses that can groom youth for the changing world.
Young men and women, in rural and urban areas are hungry to learn, do something different and something creative, but they need support, positive role models, mentors and educators; they need policies and programme designed to cater to their needs, they need enabling environment that will promote fair competition and risk taking and not risk averse behaviour; they need banks and financial institutions ready to take risk and back innovative ideas; they need schools and universities that can also teach them soft skills like communication, cooperation, networking; they need space to incubate ideas and in this globalized world they need high speed inter net connectivity so they can seek and share knowledge.
I hope the young participants today will have an opportunity to share their views on what will help unlease their potential, what is coming in their way to fly, what is preventing them from taking risks, so policies and programmes can be designed to support them. I hope today will also be an opportunity for the young participants to network and create more ideas which, not just make good business sense, but, can also benefit society and help solve day to day problems of poor people.
UNDP is very excited by the new possibilities and is ready to be your partner.