Humber Rolls Up Five Year Youth Economic Development Initiative in Indonesia

On August 23, 2017, 125 industry executives, small business owners, academics and government representatives came together in Makassar, Indonesia to share ideas on how to support the growth of small and medium enterprises in the region. The event marked the closing of the Sulawesi Economic Development Project (SEDS), a five-year capacity-building initiative funded by Global Affairs and led by Humber College, in partnership with seven universities in Sulawesi. Since 2012, the SEDS project has been supporting the creation of new applied entrepreneurship curriculum, and helping to establish business centers providing critical support to young entrepreneurs. As a result of the project, more than 12,000 new businesses have been launched, contributing to meaningful employment and economic development in the region.

During the one-day Lessons-Learned event, delegates heard from student entrepreneurs about the challenges they face, and discussed how the entrepreneurship ecosystem could better support those trying to launch and grow new businesses. “Nurturing the next generation of business-owners requires an open exchange of ideas and close collaboration between business leaders, governments and entrepreneurs,” said Asha Gervan, Manager of Humber’s International Development Institute (IDI). “Together, these groups can empower bold and creative entrepreneurs. We’re thrilled that the SEDS project has helped equip student entrepreneurs with the support, tools and resources they need to thrive.”

Indonesian youth offer great potential for economic growth and poverty reduction by becoming job creators as entrepreneurs. Indonesia is the world’s fourth largest country, but only 1% of the total population are engaged as entrepreneurs. With unemployment rates for youth soaring at 20%, the Government of Indonesia, along with SEDS partners have focused on promoting youth entrepreneurs as key agents of development and change, to reduce poverty and improve lives. 

Humber’s model of teaching and learning has greatly impacted the success of SEDS. Using a student-centered learning approach, SEDS has trained more than 429 university lecturers in teaching entrepreneurship, helping students to develop practical skills and to learn how to think critically.

“Entrepreneurship is the future path for innovation, and job creation – [it will] take ideas to the next stage,” said Canada’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Peter MacArthur, during a recent visit to Hasanuddin University, one of the SEDS partner schools. MacArthur recognized the benefits of the SEDS model remarking: “Universities are important hotbeds of new ideas and it’s important to move ideas from laboratories into the marketplace. University students here, with Humber’s assistance, are developing early models and frameworks in order to achieve success.” He also added, “Fifty percent of growth in Indonesia is driven by small and medium businesses, and a quarter of them are owned by women. Bringing women into the mainstream will pay great dividends for the country.”