Self-Employment and Livelihoods
Latin America and the Caribbean
Across the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region, the average youth unemployment level is nearly 18%, and economic growth averaged just 1.4% in 2018. Formal employment cannot absorb all entrants into the labor market. Lack of skills, experience, and professional networks place youth at a particular disadvantage in formal employment. Promoting self-employment and entrepreneurship is a key approach to support more successful labor market entry and income generation for youth in LAC. Youth themselves recognize the value of self-employment: according to a 2016 Gallup poll, around 20% of Latin American youth planned to start a business in the next year. Programs that support youth in creating and growing productive businesses, even businesses that start and remain small, can provide pathways for youth to gain more secure livelihoods.
The goal of this brief is to provide guidance on steps for using best practices in entrepreneurship program design, implementation, and evaluation to support youth who are oriented toward securing livelihoods. These are youth who are most often entrepreneurs of necessity, rather than entrepreneurs of opportunity.