Youth Entrepreneurs Engaging in the Digital Economy

  • May 22, 2020

  • South-East Asia

The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Youth Co:Lab - co-led by UNDP and Citi Foundation - presented a new report this month, on Youth Entrepreneurs Engaging in the Digital Economy.

Understanding to what degree young entrepreneurs in South and South-East Asia rely on digital financial services and digital business solutions and how they are benefitting from them, can improve youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion.

This report offers an up-to-date regional picture of trends related to youth entrepreneurship and financial inclusion based on results from Findex and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey data, as well as qualitative insights from an online survey of 64 young entrepreneurs.

Their analysis found that youth enterprises in South Asia and South-East Asia use digital platforms mainly for marketing, sales and business operations; they also found interesting examples of companies that use digital solutions to promote inclusive growth, education, and health.

There has been a rapid expansion in youth using digital payments, including mobile money, although this growth has mostly occurred among more educated and richer youth. With rapid technological growth there is an increased opportunity to better link digital finance and business platforms for young entrepreneurs, especially for developing countries. There is also a need for a wider range of digital financial service offerings, including savings, remittances and credit, and for these services to be better tailored to the needs of existing youth enterprises. The study recommends some alternative Fintech solutions that can help full this need.

To read more, download the full publication here.


The UNCDF strategy ‘Leaving no one behind in the digital era’ is based on over a decade of experience in digital nance in Africa, Asia and the Paci c. UNCDF recognizes that reaching the full potential of digital financial inclusion in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aligns with the vision of promoting digital economies that leave no one behind. The vision of UNCDF is to empower millions of people by 2024 to use services daily that leverage innovation and technology and contribute to the SDGs. UNCDF will apply a market development approach and continuously seek to address underlying market dysfunctions. As part of this strategy UNCDF contributes to achieving SDG 8 focusing on decent work and inclusive economic growth to promote youth financial inclusion, empowerment and entrepreneurship. UNCDF SHIFT ASEAN is grateful for the support of the Australian Government.


Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for Asia-Paci c countries to empower and invest in youth to accelerate implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. By developing 21st century skills, catalysing and sustaining youth-led startups and social enterprises across the region,Youth Co:Lab is positioning young people front and centre in order to solve the region’s most pressing challenges. In addition to supporting youth entrepreneurship, Youth Co:Lab works closely with multiple stakeholders across the region, including governments, civil society and the private sector, to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem and provide policy support to better enable young people to take the lead on new solutions that will help meet the SDGs.