An international consulting firm, IPE Global, Managed Services Operating Partner (MSOP) for Meghalaya State Skills Development Society (MSSDS), Government of Meghalaya facilitated a virtual international conference under the banner of “Youth Entrepreneurship: A step for re-purposing local development” on Saturday. International youth entrepreneurs and community leaders from seven different countries including, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Thailand had participated in knowledge-exchange. These countries also fall under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). The discussion mainly revolved around the importance of youth entrepreneurship amidst COVID-19, the importance of strengthening the local economy through entrepreneurship opportunities and youth as drivers of entrepreneurial activities in their communities, regions, and countries. The theme of the conference envisages engaging panel discussions on how to utilize energy and ideas of our youth to strengthen local economy.
The MSOP virtual conference brought international, national and local expertise together to address common challenges. Shri. B. Hajong, Executive Director, MSSDS inaugurated the conference and Dr. Shashi Ranjan Jha, Associate Director, Education, and Skills, IPE Global presented the theme while international experts including Mr. Abesh Adhikari, Managing Partner, Lex Jurist, and youth Mentor, Nepal, Ms.Kokaew Wongphan, Independent researcher, Thaksin University, Songkhla, Thailand, Ms. Haimanti Sarkar, CEO, Peoples Union of the Marginalized Development Organisation(PUMDO), Bangladesh, Ms. Soklin Uy, Co-founder, Gender and Peace Leadership Network, Cambodia, Mr. Tshering D Dorji, Asst. Financial Inclusion and Literacy Officer, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Bhutan, Ms. Aidahun Nongrang, MSOP entrepreneur, Meghalaya, India, and Mr. Chit Ko Ko Oo, Founder, Myittar Resource Foundation (MRF), Myanmar shared best practices and case studies of their respective countries. The event was moderated by Mr. Rahul Tejwani, Co-founder at Green chutney Films and Kredis, Ahmedabad. Earlier, Dr. Zulfiqar Sheth (MSOP entrepreneurship lead) welcomed the experts and provided an overview of the MSOP project.
Shri. B. Hajong (Executive Director, MSSDS) during his opening remarks lauded MSOP team for initiating the global conference as it would provide new ideas and exchange of knowledge to help entrepreneurs and youth all over the world. He reiterated on government support and mentorship for helping entrepreneurs. Regarding the relevance of the conference, Mr. Hajong said that “Initiatives like this not only brings best practices in light but also provides an opportunity to, explore new ideas, spark collaborations, and deepen connections in support of our work with young entrepreneurs in Meghalaya.”
Dr. Shashi Ranjan Jha, Associate Director, Education, and Skills, IPE Global presented the theme: “Youth entrepreneurship: A step for re-purposing local development”. He stated that the current pandemic should be taken as an opportunity and not as a challenge and to focus on three key points. Firstly, how to bring in system thinking; secondly the need to strengthen institution structure and lastly the need to build cross-linkages and strengthen the demand-supply chain.
Mr. Abesh stated that in Nepal, COVID-19 created immense job loss, 5.7 million people in the informal sector lost their jobs. Due to reverse migration, 3.5 million people got affected. Especially the youth and young entrepreneurs faced a downfall. The government has provided tax exemption to its people and youth have adopted digital ways of coming with new ideas and helping local entrepreneurs by buying their products.
Ms. Soklin stated that in Cambodia, over 25,000 people got unemployed due to COVID-19 and it impacted various sectors, especially tourism. She focused on the importance of making women economically independent as women entrepreneurs play an important role in bringing about equality. Mr. Chit Ko Ko Oo stated that in Myanmar, 50,000 people became jobless due to the pandemic. The local entrepreneurs and communities are coming together to find solutions by selling home-based production online.
In Thailand, Ms.Kokaew stated that the pandemic resulted in the loss of jobs and the government launched projects for community volunteers and to the youth for entrepreneurship. While in Bhutan, Mr. Tshering stated that as the tourism sector got severely impacted, the country is moving to alternative sources for livelihood, like agriculture to revive its economy. With fiscal and monetary measures, the government is providing aid to its people and through its fund relief resources.
In Bangladesh, Ms. Haimanti stated that many sectors got damaged due to COVID-19 and to overcome the crisis, people are moving to entrepreneurship in agriculture as it is more sustainable. In Meghalaya, Ms. Aidahun stated that the market has been severely affected and the need for entrepreneurship requires mentoring and financial assistance through schemes provided by the government.
Over 200 people participated in the conference from all across the world with some engaging and interactive discussion about youth entrepreneurship from different countries and regions. Mr. Shalender Sharma, Director, Education and Skills, IPE Global said that “MSOP project under Supporting Human Capital Development in Meghalaya (SHCDM), supported by the Asian Development Bank is committed to providing support to Meghalaya entrepreneurs on inception, operation, scaleup, and sustainability through entrepreneurship development activities.”