They are associated with selfishness, but also with altruism; with consumerism, but also with environmental consciousness; with apathy, but also with the desire to change the world. Regardless of their origin, race or gender, the youth share similar concerns and are driven by the same motivations. But who are they, really?
They are 1.8 billion inhabitants in the planet. They are also major allies in fulfilling the most ambitious agenda for development: the Sustainable Development Goals.
The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum recently concluded and it shone light on the major issues that concern young people throughout the world: the desire for greater participation in the social, economic and political arena, funding for their initiatives and access to technological innovations, to name a few. Yet all are necessary to speed up the journey towards achieving the SDGs.
The BBVA Microfinance Foundation is aware that the youth plays an important role in driving economic and social development. It also knows about the difficulties they face in securing and keeping an employment. Whether because of incompatibilities with their studies, or because there are not enough jobs available, the obstacles are real and hinder their full participation in the society.
Latin America is home to nearly 160 million youth, a region where the Foundation promotes the development of vulnerable entrepreneurs so they can prosper through their own efforts. It serves people who are excluded from the formal financial system, nearly 20% of whom are under 30 years old. This is also the reason why it harnesses the talent of young microfinance officers, who are essential in bringing the BBVAMF’s mission to fruition and in making real changes to the lives of the people they support.
Young people also show great examples of vitality, passion and tenacity. For instance, Josfranny Reinoso, from the Dominican Republic, is 22, and in spite of an illness limiting his motor functions, he has set up a small store which supports his family; in Peru, Karina Lizbeth Mallqui, a 28-year old microfinance officer, travels to remote rural areas promoting financial inclusion among the residents.
These are only some examples of a generation able and willing to fight to eradicate poverty. Bearing in mind that they represent nearly a quarter of the world’s population, they are a powerful ally to accomplish this goal. They possess the energy needed to transform our world into a beter place, they just need the opportunity.