An Ecosystem Model for Credentialing Entrepreneurs


The authors propose a model for reducing job-creator loss in regions facing severe youth unemployment. Job-creator loss occurs when young, would-be entrepreneurs lack opportunities to attempt scalable ventures. To date, efforts to expand such opportunities through microcredit and entrepreneurship training have seen mixed or inconclusive results.2 Our hypothesis is that more robust results depend upon introducing market signals that enable the local ecosystem to identify and champion promising young job creators. The model is designed to test whether an entrepreneur’s credential could provide the needed market signal. By engaging local market stakeholders in qualifying events that identify promising young entrepreneurs, we aim to explore whether such a credential can ease binding constraints on job creation. If the model can be scaled, it will enhance opportunities for youth to attempt scalable ventures while retaining their appeal within the job market. The Silicon Valleys of the world provide such opportunities, but there is a pressing need to expand access to the opportunities in regions with emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems. To this end, we outline a framework for qualifying young entrepreneurs and a digital platform for demonstrating entrepreneurial capability. This framework and platform are ecosystem-based, enabling youth to showcase their potential to those whose know-how, access, and resources they need to build their ventures and advance their careers. This adds a critical element often missing in local markets—a platform for engaging market stakeholders in assessing youth skill sets. With an eye toward implementing the framework and scaling it across regions, we propose a model for accrediting local community-based organizations (CBOs) to award credentials to youth who demonstrate entrepreneurial capability. The credential succeeds when it wins market recognition for entrepreneurial experience, along with cachet comparable to that commanded by a prestigious fellowship, service opportunity, or military commission in its respective sphere. Where this works, young entrepreneurs will earn recognized credentials along with access to networks, resources, and opportunities. This has the potential to drive a multiplier effect essential to robust job growth.

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An Ecosystem Model for Credentialing Entrepreneurs