On Sept. 27, 2016, the second YouthPower Annual Learning Network meeting occurred in Washington, D.C. The invitation-only gathering included a panel of Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative alumni and provided an opportunity to learn about major innovations from YouthPower indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity members that have broad applicability. The innovations were presented as lightning talks – five minute presentations followed by small group discussions. Louis Alexander, the principal associate for youth practice at Banyan Global, presented a lightning talk about creative pathways for at-risk youth to become self-employed entrepreneurs and start new micro or small businesses.
“Building Entrepreneurship on the Road: A ‘Shark Tank’-like Approach” is based on a public-private partnership project related to at-risk youth and human trafficking. A youth-focused video was produced (with MTV’s help), and a team organized public showings in eight Mexican cities in collaboration with a local movie theatre company (Cinepolis). The movie screens were large and portable, which allowed dozens if not hundreds of people to view the video. In most towns, there were 100 to 200 participants, and in one town close to 1,000 people watched the video. After the short video was shown, the youth facilitators engaged the audience in a question and answer session and hosted games that created spaces for dialogue in small groups. This “Shark Tank”-like idea for YouthPower can be used to create a video about entrepreneurship, led by youth entrepreneurs, that would evaluate business plans and proposals from youth. The video can be fun and dynamic, but also serious, and get people excited about the issues and challenges that surface when thinking about starting, strengthening, or expanding a micro or small business. These types of public learning events held in small neighborhoods and communities where there is little entertainment tend to be a big hit, especially when conducted in public squares, community centers, or schools. The “Shark Tank” format on TV has been one of the more successful programs watched by whole families—not just adults or youth. In this case, the road trip and local presentations would encourage family dialogue around business entrepreneurship in microeconomic settings where there are many family-led or family-supported businesses. The video can generate discussion about business planning, product and service quality, marketing, inventory, market demand, attention to clients, business expansion, cash flow, use of credit, return on investment, business location, and more.