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Each year, for the past five years, I have taken part in the G20YEA Summit representing the construction industry (ANCE Young Entrepreneurs) within the Italian delegation organized by Confindustria Young Entrepreneurs. The G20YEA is a global organization which claims to represent circa 500,000 young entrepreneurs from the G20 member states. We meet ahead of the annual G20 event, in the same country it will be taking place in, to showcase the importance of next-gen entrepreneurship in member states, share learnings and best practices, and produce recommendations for our governing bodies. The 2019 Summit took place last month in Fukuoka, Japan. Our goal was to imagine an economy for a sustainable future, according to the famous Japanese “Society 5.0” principles.
Society 5.0 was designed as a direct response to Japan’s “lost decade”, and is one of the pillars of this year’s B20 summit – the summit for business leaders that runs alongside the G20. It is an ambitious plan for transformation which seeks to contrast the problems arising from the country’s ageing population, which are not unique to Japan but indeed resound across most “old world” economies, by creating a new social contract and economic model which incorporating the technological innovations of the fourth industrial revolution. It addresses the key pillars of infrastructure, finance tech, healthcare and logistics, and relies on AI and big data driven deep tech to fuel it. Japan wants to create a “super-smart” society, underpinned by the so-called SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), the 2030 sustainability targets promoted by the United Nations.
It is fitting that innovation be the focus at a global summit of young entrepreneurs. This is a theme that has been under the spotlight in several of our previous events. Last year in Argentina, for example, we spent a good part of one of the days working with Accenture to determine how to rethink education in light of technological change. This year that same session, which is always the highlight of the conference for me, became a showcase for the myriad of opportunities that deep tech integration makes possible through extended reality, but also of the risks associated with it such as cyberbullying and gaming addiction. We were fortunate enough to host prominent international speakers such as G20 Secretary General Tuyoshi Akahori, who reminded us of the ongoing need for multi-stakeholder debate between governments and the business community in order to empower sustainable and inclusive growth through the use of innovative new technologies. Further, our hosts shared case studies on how Japanese firms are already embracing Society 5.0, so that they may be a beacon for this movement globally.
As is customary, we closed out the 2019 G20YEA with the Final Communiqué, which was then presented to the Japanese government. In it, we call on G20 governments to create conditions that will foster widespread and inclusive entrepreneurship within a sustainable environment, in line with the priorities of the B20 and G20. These are the five key recommendations that emerged from this year’s Summit:
- As young entrepreneurs, we are concerned with the rise of protectionist sentiments that threaten the principles of economic freedom and mobility that we hold dear. Therefore, we call on G20 leaders to renew their commitment to free, open and fair trade. Specifically, we reiterate the need for a G20-wide Young Entrepreneurs Visa program to provide multi-entry visas and simplified administrative procedures so that young entrepreneurs can found and grow global businesses.
- Access to funding is one of the biggest challenges we all face when starting or growing a business. In order to foster an environment where new businesses can multiply and scale, G20 governments need to ensure there is a financial infrastructure in place which allows fair access to funding for those who are underserved by traditional financial institutions. We also call for the strengthening of financial literacy and the creation of digital platform that will enable both access to information and to sources of credit, especially for public-interest projects.
- Sustainability is high in the G20YEA agenda, and as such we request that measures be supported that allow for existing businesses to be transformed, or new businesses to be created, which contribute to a more inclusive, sustainable and youth-friendly society. In practice, this will entail G20 countries referencing the SDGs when creating and adapting entrepreneur-support policies, to ensure that governments encourage positive-impact business models.
- New technologies are evolving rapidly, and governments must provide a progressive policy environment to manage and mitigate the risks relating to data circulation, privacy and cybersecurity, whilst being sure not to unnecessarily hinder digital businesses. Governments should also continue to digitize their infrastructure and public services. We call on the G20 leaders to embrace comprehensive E-Government policies, and moreover to robustly promote open data initiatives which are essential to the development of new tech-driven products and services.
- Finally, as we have stated in the past, there is a significant mismatch between the demand for labour and its current skill sets, which is most acutely felt in the sectors that are active in the field of digital transformation. We believe that educational curriculae must be redesigned to teach and encourage the entrepreneurial skill sets that will be key in the creation of the so-called “Society 5.0”. In short, we call for the promotion of practical entrepreneurial education in secondary schools as well as in vocational educational training and universities to ensure all students are exposed to the practical elements of entrepreneurship. Nobody should leave school not knowing how to write a business plan.
The G20YEA young entrepreneurs will meet again in Saudi Arabia in 2020.
June 3, 2019 at 01:05PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs