Unemployment is bad, and our progress in creating new jobs has been unacceptably slow.
Youth unemployment is often where the problem is worst, and it's quickly becoming a global phenomenon. Twenty percent of British youth and 40 percent of Spanish youngsters are unable to find jobs today.
By 2050, the employed community in the developing world, not including China with its one-child policy, is projected to increase by 50 percent. In sub-Saharan Africa, this figure is expected to double or an increase by 100 percent.
How can we create work for all these young people?
The answer lies in entrepreneurship opportunities. An excerpt from a recent Economist piece:
"High-growth start-ups are the best generators of new jobs. In fact, according to the Kauffman Foundation, an American outfit devoted to entrepreneurship, nearly all net job creation in America between 1980 and 2005 took place in firms that were less than five years old."
"They are also the firms most likely to raise productivity, a basis for economic growth. They create jobs that did not previously exist and solve problems that people assumed were part of the natural order of things."
The Economist also reported on a new index for measuring entrepreneurship called the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index. The index measures not only the ambition of entrepreneurs but also the prevalence of startups. Interestingly, the findings reveal that Britain, Germany and France all perform below potential because of a shortage of venture capital.
"On the list of all countries great and small, Denmark comes top and America slipped to third place. Four of the five Nordic countries are in the top ten. This suggests that it is possible to combine crackling enterprise with a big welfare state."
Why is America becoming a less welcoming place for entrepreneurs when we need new jobs more than ever before?
Part of the answer lies in the ideology and actual workings of the US Chamber of Commerce. Once known for being the binding force for all businesses, the Chamber today is doing a far better job of supporting its largest and wealthiest members—who ship jobs out of the country to bolster their bottom line—than the interests of its smaller constituents.
Further, the Chamber claims to represent three million businesses, but in actuality, represents a fraction of those businesses: 200,000 to be exact, with 16 footing the bill on most of the Chamber's funding.
What can we do about this? It's time for a new organization that speaks for all businesses while supporting our entrepreneurs.
Two organizations that are doing so: The American Sustainable Business Council (of which I'm a cofounder) and The US Chamber Doesn't Speak For Me, a joint effort.
Supporting the entrepreneurial and innovative efforts of our workforce's youngest members is the key to ending youth unemployment. Question is, are you willing to do your part?
--By Jeffrey Hollender
Jeffrey Hollender is co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation, which he built into a leading brand known for its authenticity, transparency, and progressive business practices. For more than 25 years, he has helped millions of Americans make green and ethical product choices, beginning with his bestselling book, How to Make the World a Better Place, a Beginner's Guide. He went on to author five additional books, including The Responsibility Revolution and Planet Home. He is a board member of Greenpeace US and Verite and also co-founder of the American Sustainable Business Council. Please visit www.jeffreyhollender.com to learn more. He can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.
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