Bridging the resource gap between Asian youth leaders and the public, private and social sectors
- The Youth Opportunities Platform created by AVPN, with founding support from the Citi Foundation, will unlock and mobilise resources towards youth priorities in Asia
- Based on a 2022 AVPN study of 2,000 youths (aged 18-35 years) across 5 emerging Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam), ‘education’, ‘personal empowerment’, and ‘doing social good’ are youth’s top 3 priorities
- While there are numerous initiatives already supporting young people, access to opportunities and connections are still considered critical gaps to achieving these priorities
- With over 60% of the world’s youth living in Asia-Paciﬁc, supporting initiatives and opportunities must be delivered at scale
- This will be the ﬁrst platform of its kind in Asia that aggregates capital resources in the public, private, and social sectors, and matches them – at scale – to youth solutionists in the region
With founding support from the Citi Foundation, AVPN launches the Youth Opportunities Platform at the AVPN Global Conference, the largest in-person social investing conference in Asia. The first-of-its-kind Youth Opportunities Platform aggregates capital and matches these resources to opportunities and initiatives that empower youth.
At the centre of the Platform are youth solutionists, or young impact leaders, who are driving the youth advocacy movement. They are supported by public, private and social sector practitioners, who see the importance of putting young people at the centre of impactful decision-making.
Ecosystem-level challenges impeding youth empowerment at scale
The Platform rose out of the realisation that, with over 60% of the world’s young people living in Asia-Pacific, access to opportunities and connections are becoming critical gaps in meeting youth priorities. While many stakeholders across the public, private, and social sectors are investing in initiatives that support youth development, they often operate in silos within a fragmented ecosystem that fails to include young people in decision-making.
Seasoned supporters of youth, such as the Citi Foundation, which has invested more than USD275 million to address youth unemployment, know that young people must ultimately be the solutionists in solving the challenges that most impact their generation and their future.
In a time of growing resource constraints, resource efficiency and strategic leadership are key. The need for capital aggregation and resource-matchmaking
The Youth Opportunities Platform marks a turning point for the region’s youth funding community. The Platform breaks down silos and streamlines collaborations amongst donors, investors, policymakers, and young impact leaders. By offering a neutral ground for under-represented youth voices to be heard, the Platform identifies scalable opportunities, through which diverse players and investments can aggregate resources and match them to youth needs.
“The Youth Opportunities Platform is a key part of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative,” says Peter Babej, Citi’s Asia Pacific CEO. “We are proud to be working with AVPN to empower young people and support inclusive growth across the region.”
Authentic collaboration is greater than the sum of all its parts
Empowering youth at scale takes collaboration at various levels. As such, the Youth Opportunities Platform is doubling down on efforts to grow strategic communities of stakeholders, including funders, advisors, policymakers, and young impact leaders to facilitate relevant matchmaking. Within two months of its inception, the platform has already aggregated over 60 funders and resource providers from 20 global markets, to support a pilot cohort of 10 Young Impact Leaders.
As champions for youth priorities within 10 Asian markets, the first cohort of Young Impact Leaders are driving advocacy movements around: youth employment and upskilling for marginalized communities; socio-emotional learning and mental health support; refugee rights; coastal protection; music education; and more.
The platform will help them open more doors to highly selective capital providers, such as Cisco LaunchPad, Lorinet Foundation, The Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation, responsAbility Investments AG, Patamar Capital, Villgro, and more – all of whom are bringing their expertise to the table to provide advisory support to the young leaders. Already, long-held sectoral boundaries and funder-founder power imbalances are fast being overturned.
“At PLDT-Smart Foundation, we believe that if we want to maximise potential, we must invest in the leaders behind the project, not just in the project itself,” says Ma. Esther Santos, President of the PLDT-Smart Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the biggest telecommunications company in the Philippines. “That is why the Youth Opportunities Platform speaks to me and the Foundation because it opens the doors for funders and young leaders to come together in an unprecedented way. It challenges funders to remember that they do not have all the answers, and I urge all funders to leverage the Platform to listen directly to young problem solvers who have the solutions to drive change.”
Anchoring The Youth Opportunities Platform are 6 partners, representing leading youth-led organisations and seasoned youth funders across Asia. They are: Indonesian Youth Diplomacy (Host of Y20 2022) and Yayasan Anak Bangsa Bisa (Foundation of GoTo Gojek Tokopedia); PLDT-Smart Foundation in the Philippines; YuWaah (Generation Unlimited India) at UNICEF; Social Ventures Hong Kong; and Youth Co:Lab co-led by UNDP. Along with the Citi Foundation, these anchor partners form the backbone of the Platform. In the coming months, the anchor partners will not only harness their expertise to amplify priority youth areas in the region, but identify collaboration pathways to enrich existing youth initiatives.
Effective resource matchmaking, however, will not change the status quo on youth empowerment, unless mindsets are changed and relationships with traditional decision-makers are redefined. The Youth Opportunities Platform will have the opportunity to partake in Y20 (the youth arm of G20) happening in Indonesia this year and India in 2023, bringing the voices of Asian youth to a global stage.
“AVPN has been building the social investment ecosystem in Asia in the last decade, and the key to a strong community is trust,” says Naina Subberwal Batra, Chairwoman and CEO of AVPN, “While we are seeing a growing awareness around governments and private funders to incorporate voices of the next generation in their impact strategies, they must learn to recognise them, not as token voices, but as partners at the decision-making table. Until and unless global leaders can break this power dynamic, and create trusted spaces for authentic listening, youths will not be empowered to drive generational change.”