Generating an income is a significant challenge facing many young people in Mongolia. Youth unemployment is nearly 21% (15-24 years, 2016), poverty has increased by 37% within two years (2016), and the school-to-work transition for urban Mongolians is up to 2.9 years. With this in mind, in mid-2017, UNDP Mongolia initiated ‘Activated2030: A Youth Enterprising Project’. This project aims to support the enterprising activities of Mongolian youth. Enterprising activities are for profit and not for profit projects.
Approaching the problem - the five general enterprising tendencies
During the first phase of the project, UNDP sought to understand the entrepreneurial mindset of Mongolian youth. They worked with a group of young volunteers to develop an interactive website www.activated.mn which asks a series of questions related to the five “General Enterprising Tendencies”, such as: “Need for Autonomy”, “Calculated Risk-taking”, “Drive and Determination”, “Need for Achievement”, and “Creative Tendency”. The international literature reports, these tendencies are strongly linked with enterprising people, and are influenced by peoples environment and experiences. It is important for everyone to have a certain level of these tendencies in order to be successful in turning their ideas into actions, whether that be as a self-employed entrepreneur, successful employee or active citizen.
The ’Activated2030’ project is using a number of innovative approaches in order to develop a range of products and services to support the enterprising activities of Mongolian youth. The project is being designed, developed and implemented using a ‘Design Thinking’ approach. This means the client, in this case Mongolian youth, are the ones designing the activities with the guidance and support of an international team of experts convened by UNDP Mongolia. Another important feature of the ‘Design Thinking’ approach is that activities are designed with prototypes built and tested quickly. Feedback is received from all stakeholders and this feedback is used to refine the design of the activities and the overall project. This approach allows for products and services to be developed in a cost and time efficient way, and ensures the eventual services meet the needs and expectations of those they are aiming to support.
Enterprising Lens and Enterprise Education Pedagogy
In developing an enterprising culture, academics have suggested using an 'Enterprise Education Pedagogy'17. The underlining fundamentals of the EEP is on being participant-centered, action-based and experiential in nature. Three types of Enterprise pedagogy have been described: ‘Education for enterprise,’ ‘Education about enterprise,’ and ‘Education through enterprise’16. The MEA applied ‘Education through enterprise’ which is oriented toward those with low to medium ‘General Enterprising Tendencies’, which the results of Phase 1 of ‘Activated2030’ suggest are the primary characteristic of Mongolian youth.
UNDP Mongolia’s ‘Activated2030’ project team believes that developing this enterprising culture is a holistic approach to achieving the SDGs. A key challenge of this approach is with the confusion of the terms, enterprise and entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship, globally and in Mongolia, is a term and phenomena that has become part of the mainstream discussion, with enterprise often being considered the same thing. This confusion of the terms was a challenge encountered within the programs both with partners and participants. However, the holistic purpose of being enterprising allows for a more inclusive catchment of both partners and participants.
Another important innovative approach to this work is the use of ‘Behavioural Insights’. Behavioural Insights explore why people behave in certain ways and then design interventions and policies aimed at encouraging people to adopt a new behaviour or attitude. In the case of ‘Activated2030’, UNDP Mongolia is encouraging young people to pursue enterprising activities. During phase 1 of ‘Activated2030’, ‘empathy’ and ‘user journey maps’ were developed during focus groups to enable the UNDP led team to understand what young Mongolians hear, see, feel, and say and do when they are pursuing enterprising activities. This enabled the ‘Activated2030’ team to empathise with Mongolian youth, allowing them to better understand what drives or inhibits certain behaviors.
A 'Design Thinking' approach was applied across the Activated2030 in Orkhon. ‘Design Thinking’ is an approach refined by Stanford University's D School, which focuses on developing creative solutions to problems with the user or client at the center. It requires an understanding of the context and culture in which the problem is contained, and designs solutions based on genuine empathy. Solutions are generated without the normal constraints of current systems and processes. They are then rapidly trialed using a 'fast fail' approach. This allows for continual iteration resulting in more time and cost-effective development and testing. ‘Design Thinking’ involves six activities that often loop back on themselves: from empathizing with stakeholders to the definition of the problem; ideation of solutions; prototyping of those solutions; testing of these prototypes, and finally implementing the best solution.
By using the ‘Design Thinking’ approach in the design and delivery of the Enterprising Development Programs (EDP) and prototyping and trialing of the activities designed to improve the enterprising capabilities of youth in Orkhon proved to be very positive. As Orkhon youth played a key role in the design of the activities delivered in the EDP 2, the activities were well received by participants
The word ‘platform’ has become synonymous with digital platforms. However, this is a limited view of the contemporary use of the word. A ‘Platform Approach’ is one which brings together a range of people and organizations to provide products and or services to address a need. A ‘Platform’ consists of several roles and actors as illustrated in Figure to be added…. This collaborative approach enabled significant knowledge exchange, shared learning, genuine co-creation, and achievement of mutual, organizational and individually specific goals.
The Mongol Enterprising Adventure
During the ‘Mongol Enterprising Adventure’ held in Ulaanbaatar on 27 and 28 October 2018, UNDP combined these innovative approaches with the ‘platform approach’ which brings together a range of stakeholders to work on a challenge. In this case the Ulaanbaatar City Industrial Development and Innovation Agency, Development Solutions NGO, Educated Space and Save the Children, led and facilitated by UNDP, worked with a large group of volunteer youth to design and develop a series of activities aiming to improve the enterprising tendencies of the 48 youth participants. The activities were multi-sensory, interactive and based on an ‘Enterprising Education Pedagogy’, that means they encouraged ‘learning by doing’. The ‘Mongol Enterprising Adventure’ was held in four locations across Ulaanbaatar. Completing the platform of organizations, Mercy Corps funded and organized for 25% of the participants to come from rural Mongolia.