Context: At more than one million, youth aged 15-34 years represent the largest demographic group in Mongolia, accounting for 35 percent of the resident population in 2015 and a significant share of the working age population. A 2008 study by the International Labour Organization estimated that 56 per cent of youth in the 15-29 age cohort in Mongolia were in transition from school-to-work, meaning they were still looking for stable jobs. More than 40 per cent had not yet started the transition, which may mean they were still completing their education and less than 1 percent had completed the transition.
Implementation of programme/ initiative: Ulaanbaatar Soup (UB Soup) is a youth entrepreneurship initiative implemented by the Mongolian Youth Council. Using a grassroots model, the programme provides young entrepreneurs with credit to fund small to medium sized creative projects and promote community based development through crowd funding, creativity and collaboration. The basic formula is to bring people together to share an affordably priced meal and give each participant the chance to present for 5 minutes on her or his project. After the presentation, audience members are invited to ask questions and then vote on which project they think benefits society the most. The project with the most votes receives all the funds from the sale of the meals as an initial grant. Along with providing seed funding, the Mongolian Youth Council supports programme participants as much as possible until the projects become self-sustaining.
Main challenges: Two main challenges to implementing UB Soup were securing an adequate venue and raising funds to support the winners. The Mongolian Youth Council overcame these obstacles through collaboration with the private sector and the Government.
Results achieved: Thus far, UB Soup events have given youth the chance to pitch 17 different projects with more than 150 people in attendance and raised $US 700 which went directly to community projects. Three winners have started a nonprofit organization, a project against violence and an art movement. Among these includes, “Ivolunteer” that is now the biggest platform for volunteers to get opportunities in Mongolia. The aforementioned art movement uses public mosaics to convey social messages such as water conservation. With the support of the Mongolian Youth Council these projects are thriving, largely in part to their collaboration of the Government, private sector and youth NGOs.
Moving Forward: Between 2016 and 2018, UB Soup plans to create an online platform that includes additional funding opportunities, expands the scope of the events and promotes sustainable cooperation between the private sector and the Government.
Replicability: A key take away from UB Soup is the power of youth entrepreneurship and successful partnerships. Promoting entrepreneurship to young people empowers them to create their own employment opportunities and improves their leadership skills. Pivotal to UB Soup’s success was the development of partnerships between youth organizations, the Government and the private sector.
Mongolian Youth Council available from: www.myc.mn
UB Soup Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ulaanbaatarsoup
Date: November 29, 2016