#Youth4GlobalGoals: RIO+ Centre and the biggest Junior Enterprise Conference in the World

The UNDP RIO+ Centre participated in this year’s edition of the National Conference of Youth Enterprises in Brazil (ENEJ 2017) held in Porto Seguro, Bahia, 17-21 August. Within the scope of the biggest Junior Enterprise conference in the world, gathering over 3200 young entrepreneurs, the RIO+ Centre coordinated the Youth 4 Global Goals workshop in partnership with AIESEC Brazil and members of the National Youth Secretariat.

 A junior enterprise is a non-profit civil social organization, composed and managed exclusively by students of higher education (universities or business schools), providing services for companies, institutions and society, under the guidance of teachers and professionals with the goal to consolidate and enhance the learning of their members providing hands-on experience.

What started with the first Junior Enterprise in 1967 at ESSEC Business School in France has now grown to a global movement present in over 15 countries across 5 continents building corporate and entrepreneurial skills to over 50 thousands Junior Executives worldwide.

According to Brasil Junior (Brazil’s Junior Enterprise Confederation), there are over 600 youth enterprises in Brazil and a total of 16 thousand students actively involved, generating over 3.5 million dollars in projects only in 2016.

The Junior Enterprise Movement in Brazil and the 2030 Agenda

The Junior Enterprise Movement in Brazil is the biggest in the world in number of established business, and its central objective is to “develop, through business learning, entrepreneurs committed and capable of transforming Brazil”.

These student entrepreneurs are firmly committed to learning-by-doing, bringing their fresh education skills into a business environment inside their own universities. Apart from offering consulting services (mainly) to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for over 70% cheaper budgets, these young leaders are also concerned about intensifying the entrepreneurial learning in Brazil and generating a transformative impact in our institutions and society.

The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), signed by over 193 UN member states in 2015, offers a great lot of hope to young people that are vividly trying to change the world. This Agenda, apart from its universal, interconnected and inclusive urge, brings forward a critical imperative that lies on the core of its foundations: transformation.

Transformation in general terms refers to a “change of character and little or no resemblance with the past configuration or structure”. In others word, it means moving forward without making the same mistakes from the past.

The relevance of the Global Goals to these future young leaders of Brazil, is notorious…

More than developing a wide set of skills and vision in order to avoid the same mistakes made by past generations, these young entrepreneurs are very much engaged in the Junior Enterprise Movement because they are all driven by a common purpose. A purpose of being active participants of this transformation, being part of change - not spectators…

Youth 4 Global Goals: Activating awareness, understanding and action!

Youth 4 Global Goals (Youth4GG) is an initiative that aims to activate young people to contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Led by AIESEC, the largest youth-led organization in the world, the core of the initiative is to drive action by young people to create a better world, going beyond the traditional role in advocacy.

As part of the National Conference of Youth Enterprises, the RIO+ Centre together with AIESEC Brazil and members of the National Youth Secretariat held a Youth 4 Global Goals hands-on workshop to over 250 young entrepreneurs from Junior Enterprises.

Following Y4GG’s three-stage activation methodology (awareness, understanding and action), the workshop raised awareness about the importance of the 2030 Agenda and understanding of young people’s role therein. By bringing AIESEC’s example as an organization that uses the Global Goals as a normative framework across all of its actions, the idea was to inspire the Junior Enterprise Movement leapfrogging for the adoption of the SDGs.

Seventeen groups were formed (one for each goal) and a mission was brought up instantaneously with a chronometer running in the slideshow: #17IdeasToSaveTheWorldInOneHour!

The result was an intense brainstorming and collaborative-thinking on multidisciplinary approaches. The ideas were pitched and one of the participants said after the 3-hour workshop, “The Junior Enterprise Movement needs to re-think its notion of impact…”

The Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda is the far-most wide ranged agreement in history, and having consensus to bring it forth in a modern multipolar world can be considered a success per se. However, making sure this Agenda serves as a norm-setting tool, especially for young people, to bring about the impact most of them “dream of”, is an inexorable mission firmly spearheaded by UNDP.

In a moment where the Junior Enterprise Movement is revisiting its biannual Strategic Plan, conducting such workshop together with high-notch partners is the way forward to organic appropriation and consolidation of the Global Goals within a true noble army of (change) makers.