How do you promote entrepreneurship among disadvantaged youth, especially in low-income communities where resources are few and youth are largely considered ‘unbankable?’ The answer to this question is the subject of Youth Entrepreneurship: Lessons from India, a new publication of the International Youth Foundation (IYF).  

This eight-page study presents the experiences and learnings of the Community Collective Society for Integrated Development (CCFID), a nongovernmental organization in India that for the past three years has promoted youth entrepreneurship in a region devastated by the 2004 tsunami. This is the latest publication in IYF’s Field Notes series, designed to promote best practices and innovative approaches in youth development.  

CCFID’s efforts form part of the Tsunami Reconstruction Initiative launched by Nokia and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in 2006, which has sought to promote long-term recovery efforts in tsunami-affected areas of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Its goal: to help young people rebuild their lives by providing access to training, jobs, apprenticeships, and/or microcredit loans. “Our greatest achievement has been creating a sustainable income for the tsunami-affected population,” said R. Sudhakar, CCFID’s founder and CEO.  

Over three years, CCFID awarded more than 5,800 loans totaling US$880,000 out of an initial revolving fund of US$298,767. These loans enabled 1,500 youth-led small enterprises to take root and create jobs for another 4,500 young people with limited skills. Whether the enterprise was cashew processing, soda making, sari weaving, or handicraft production, CCFID realized early on that providing credit alone would not be sufficient to support businesses with a potential for growth. Instead it developed a comprehensive set of support services—offering assistance with product development and business planning, linking producers to markets, pursuing diverse business models, and offering insurance to mitigate risks.  

“CCFID went beyond a purely microfinance-based approach, identifying and scaling up businesses with the potential for real growth,” said IYF Vice President Peter Shiras. “Its strategy increased employment opportunities and positioned local businesses to contribute to long-term economic growth.”