Economic hardship is a reality for many communities worldwide.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent
shutdowns have caused a severe economic recession, disproportionately affecting young people.
However, the economic hardship has also created opportunities for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship, especially for young people.
The youth are the driving force behind much of the innovation we see around us, developing new technologies and products that solve societal problems, improving our wellbeing, and creating new opportunities.
They are the ones who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis, with unemployment rates for young people significantly higher than those for other age groups.
Innovation is an essential tool for young people to use in the face of economic hardship.
It is not enough to sit and wait for the recovery; young people must look for opportunities to innovate and create value. One example is the development of new online platforms to facilitate remote learning, socializing, and working remotely.
The need for social distancing, lockdowns, and work from home has led to an increase in the demand for online meeting spaces, learning management systems, and collaboration tools.
Furthermore, young people can also innovate within their communities, identifying problems and developing solutions that help to alleviate hardship.
For example, young entrepreneurs have been creating small-scale cottage industries, such as baking and sewing to provide additional income.
Others have started food delivery services and developed apps that connect local farmers with buyers.
Innovation does not only refer to the creation of new technologies or products but also involves improving existing systems and processes.
Young people have been leading the way in adopting new and alternative business models for generating income, such as the gig economy and the sharing economy.
They have been creating collaborative workspaces and co-working areas that foster community building, collaboration and reduce the isolation that comes with remote working.
Governments and non-governmental organizations can support the innovation drive of young people by investing in their education, providing training, mentorship, financing, and market access.
They can also create a fertile policy environment that supports young entrepreneurs, reducing barriers to entry and easing regulations.
To conclude, young people have a crucial role to play concerning innovation in the midst of economic hardship. They can create new products, services, and systems that contribute positively to the well-being of their communities and countries.
Governments, education institutions, and business leaders must support the drive of young people by providing them with the necessary resources needed to build successful and sustainable businesses. By doing so, we can build a resilient and prosperous future for all.
This article was authored by Ananpansah Samuel, a lecturer at the Accra Business School.