How are innovation and entrepreneurship supporting sustainable development?

    Article by Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo

    Posted: November 15, 2018

    You might complain about your job occasionally, but you’re probably grateful to have one. Many people aren’t so lucky. Unemployment rates are on the rise worldwide, throwing up a barrier against sustainable development.

    Many a leader has been elected on a promise of creating more jobs. Talking about employment isn’t just a political crowd pleaser. Ensuring proper work opportunities for people from all socio-economic backgrounds drives economic growth. Sadly, the number of unemployed people around the world is increasing every year.

    Making sure people are equipped for employment with the right education and training, and reducing obstacles to entering the workforce are essential elements in reducing world poverty rates.

    The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) eight of 17 is directed at creating jobs and making sure people are prepared to fill them. The ultimate goal is to make sure decent work is available for people worldwide by 2030.

    GVI supports UN SDG eight through volunteer programs aimed at education and training. The long-term focus for these projects is to make sure they are fully self-sustainable, maximizing positive impacts by empowering local people.               

    Decent work and economic growth: Why it matters


    In order to promote sustainable economic growth and inclusive employment, more than 470 million jobs need to be created before 2030. A lack of work leads to an imbalance in economic development globally, compounding problems of poverty in developing countries.

    World poverty solutions have seen progress within the last few decades, with almost 1.1 billion people lifted out of poverty between 1990 and 2010, the World Bank states. However, more work needs to be done to reduce poverty in developing countries.

    Approximately half of the global population still survives on less than $2 a day. Job creation is one of the most important solutions to poverty. Employment is critical for even economic development across all countries.

    According to the UN, the global unemployment rate currently sits at 5.7 percent. UN SDG eight addresses the need for productive and equal employment for all women and men. Alongside more work, UN SDG eight aims to establish better access to financial services, and improved trade, banking and agricultural infrastructure. This will help boost productivity and wealth in the most impoverished regions.

    Ultimately, the aim of UN SDG eight is to generate a seven percent yearly gross domestic product growth in developing countries.

    How does poverty affect education?


    Education is another piece of the poverty puzzle. Families living in poverty typically have less access to schooling and training, making it more difficult to find employment and improve their circumstances. More education and workshops for people in lower-income areas is crucial to breaking this cycle and working toward poverty reduction.

    Education, employment and economic growth are all closely linked. Better education means more opportunities for entrepreneurship and the resulting economic benefits.

    Innovative development projects tackling UN SDG eight typically target skills workshops and training, making education accessible and giving people the tools they need to find stable and well-paying jobs. GVI runs volunteer programs that do exactly that.

    What is GVI doing to work toward UN SDG eight?


    GVI operates sustainable volunteer programs that prioritize skills development, entrepreneurship, and micro-enterprise knowledge.

    GVI also builds toward better employment prospects through improved health and education. All projects have long-term objectives and have a collaborative focus.

    Here are two projects making strides toward UN SDG eight.

    Business management internship in Cape Town


    GVI’s Cape Town business internships use strategic efforts to bring more entrepreneurship opportunities to a low-income community.

    Business interns are involved in running educational workshops and mentoring sessions on business and micro-enterprise. This means you will be involved in training both men and women from local communities and helping to empower them in their entrepreneurship journey.

    Interns on this program are directly involved in planning and executing these workshops, so as a business intern you’ll play a big role in making sure the lessons have strong takeaways.

    Equipping locals with the tools to start their own micro-enterprises addresses UN SDG eight by boosting economic potential in the community. The practical application of this internship means you have a real opportunity to see economic development in action.

    The teaching goes both ways, with interns developing their own career prospects as they teach business skills. Interns learn intercultural fluency, as well as strong transferable skills such as leadership.

    The planning and teaching skills gained from working in a classroom setting are invaluable in your own search for a job. On top of that, interns are rewarded by seeing individuals in the workshops flourish as they work toward future plans.

    Women’s empowerment program in Laos


    GVI is working to improve the education of women and girls in Laos.

    Three-quarters of people in Laos live in poor rural areas, with one-third of the population living below the poverty line. As long as barriers to education and employment remain in place, women will struggle to improve their circumstances.

    This project gives women the opportunity to learn the skills they need to take control of their own employment and improve the socio-economic standing of themselves, their families, and wider communities.

    Based in the formal royal capital of Laos, Luang Prabang, the project helps girls learn more about women’s health, improve their English literacy, and develop practical skills. All of these factors contribute to better job opportunities, which in turn will lead to increased independence and income.

    One key aspect of the project is menstrual health education. Combining workshops on the topic of menstruation with sustainable menstrual health kits, the project’s objectives are to give girls more independence and a better understanding of their own bodies.

    There are still many misconceptions around menstruation and sanitary products can be hard to come by in Laos, particularly in more remote regions, so this innovative way of addressing menstrual health is crucial for women’s empowerment.

    The program is currently working on developing a micro-enterprise to develop the menstrual health kits, which will be fully community-run in the long-term.

    These are just two examples of GVI’s projects that support UN SDG eight. Make a real difference in people’s lives and browse more projects that are bringing innovation and entrepreneurship to people in need. Or, take a look at other volunteer programs aimed at tackling the 17 UN SDGs.

    Article by Zaytoen Domingo

    By Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.