As the conversations at this week’s Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York focus on entrepreneurship training and support as a solution to youth unemployment, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), MasterCard, and the Community Collective Society for Integrated Development (CCFID) convened their own meeting in Mumbai today with representatives from the Indian government, financial institutions, and the development community to celebrate achievements and knowledge gained from the Young Entrepreneurs (YE) initiative.

“I want to show everyone that a girl with roots in the village can also create a niche for herself in the big city,” says Maya, a 24-year-old YE participant. A determined young woman, she has dedicated her life to getting an education and developing a fulfilling career that will make her family proud. Maya and her 23-year-old businesses partner Saheb were able to start their own clothing business that is now growing—thanks to the program.  

Maya, whose story was portrayed in a video shown at the event today, is just one out of 720 young men and women in Delhi and Mumbai to benefit from YE since its inception in 2012. The program provides young people with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to transform an idea into a startup enterprise. To complement YE’s general entrepreneurship training, business mentors supply critical one-on-one guidance and support, such as discussing business plans. The program has also linked 400 startups to financing through a micro-loan fund. Many of the graduates currently operate businesses such as tailoring shops, handicraft stalls, computer and mobile phone repair stores, and food and candy shops. Over the two-year period, youth-led businesses supported by the program have created 550 additional jobs for unemployed young people.

Speaking at the event today, Mr. Ari Sarker, MasterCard’s Division President for South Asia, said, “We are delighted to work with IYF and CCFID to help provide opportunities to hundreds of youth in India to learn more about the business world. We believe that by supporting entrepreneurship, we are helping individuals overcome barriers to financial inclusion and ultimately achieve positive economic outcomes for themselves, their families, and their communities.”

Each year, as many as 12 million young people in India enter the labor market seeking jobs to support themselves and their families. However, the Indian economy is only able to create about one million new formal sector jobs annually. The YE program aims to help address this gap.

“We are proud that this program has unleashed the entrepreneurial spirit of young men and women in India, and has given them the training and support they need to be successful,” said William S. Reese, President and CEO of IYF. “IYF’s partnership with MasterCard and CCFID is ensuring more young people become not only successful entrepreneurs but also the drivers of local and national economic growth.”