I spoke about how historically, having an interest in emerging markets development seemed diametrically opposed to being financially successful. However, now we are standing at the beginning of a new era with an unprecedented opportunity to make a positive impact on emerging markets development, have lucrative careers, and to have a lot of fun and adventure at the same time, due to the confluence of two factors:
1. Never before have the emerging markets been so commercially relevant. According to statistics from the United Nations, from 1990 to now, global trade in developing economies has increased from less than a quarter of total global trade to about half, and continues to rise.
The emerging markets have dramatically shifted in the perception of business leaders, from being markets for cheap labor and component outsourcing, and charitable endeavors, to being global powerhouses that can no longer be ignored on many dimensions. Harnessing the rapid growth of these markets is critical for companies to remain viable, relevant, and successful in today's world.
2. Never has innovation on a global-scale been so accessible. There is a rise of new business incubators, resources, and ways to finance entrepreneurship, that enables more people to get in on the ground floor of rising economies. Ideas 4 Action is one of these powerful and enabling resources.
The I4A initiative focuses on:
- Developing innovative ideas that at the same time positively shape both the policy and business ecosystem, thus providing an enabling environment where novel ideas can flourish, and a too narrow focus on “business plans” can be avoided;
- Influencing leading development, public policy, and business leaders so that they can make more informed decisions that also reflect the inspiration and dedication of young people and their leadership and entrepreneurial spirit;
- Moving from innovative ideas to actionable solutions in technology, digital entrepreneurship, and business and partnership models that can be scaled up;
- Providing young entrepreneurs and leaders from around the world with access to knowledge, networking opportunities, mentoring, opportunities to connect with like-minded youths, a dedicated incubator, and potential financing opportunities;
- Advancing university and other capacity development curriculum.
The winning proposals of the 2015 competition included a new micro-insurance product, an innovative public-private partnership to establish sustainable supply chains, and a novel development impact bond. Winners of the competition get the opportunity to present their ideas at the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank Group in Lima, Peru; receive support from a project incubator at the Wharton School; and benefit from unique networking opportunities with experts from international development organizations, academia, and the private sector.
Eligibility: Youth between the ages 18 and 35 from around the world can participate.
Team Composition: This is a team competition. Teams must be 2 to 5 people and may consist of multiple nationalities and individuals from different schools, institutions, companies, etc.
Submissions for the 2016 competition are due on February 29th. More information can be found here.