Celebrating the YBI COVID-19 Rapid Response & Recovery Programme

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 16/11/2021 10:00:00 AM

In April 2020, Youth Business International (YBI) set out to support entrepreneurs and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through the unprecedented crisis posed by COVID-19.

YBI Cover

The Icehouse was appointed as YBI’s COVID-19 Rapid Response & Recovery Programme delivery partner in New Zealand and we've spent the time developing and delivering urgent packages of support to businesses nationwide challenged by the pandemic’s impact.

The new report – Refocus, Retool, Reset: Insights from Youth Business International’s COVID-19 Rapid Response & Recovery Programme – reflects the insights which supported underserved entrepreneurs to build back stronger, be personally resilient, and ensure their businesses could endure a myriad of future shocks and harness new opportunities in a post-pandemic world.

Among the report’s key findings are: ‘MSMEs, especially those led by women, youth, ethnic minorities, and migrants, were significantly impacted by COVID-19 with 70-80% facing major financial difficulties.

‘103,796 businesses supported by YBI survived the initial impacts of the pandemic and were able to maintain 92,803 jobs. During this time, YBI identified six key areas of future support that will ensure entrepreneurs have the emotional resilience, agility, and resources to allow them to build back stronger and harness new opportunities.

‘With the support of a $5M grant from Google.org and support of Google employees, YBI used its 20 years of experience providing integrated support for youth entrepreneurship and its global network of expert members to deliver programmes in 32 countries globally to help entrepreneurs.’

Anita Tiessen, CEO Youth Business International (YBI), says: ‘Our network was determined to stand by underserved young entrepreneurs through the economic shocks of the pandemic, reaching nearly 400,000 globally at their time of greatest need. We will not lose momentum in the recovery period, and look forward to the results of this programme continuing to create long-lasting support and impact going forward.’

The full results from the programme included:

  • 375,588 entrepreneurs reached through helplines websites and videos and 145,738 entrepreneurs accessed in-depth services such as mentoring, coaching, business clinics, webinars and trainings
  • 103,796 businesses supported by YBI survived the initial impacts of the pandemic, with 92,803 jobs maintained
  • 113,016 entrepreneurs reporting improved business knowledge and skills to manage the risk and uncertainty
  • 67,895 female, young, migrant and refugee entrepreneurs accessed intensive training, mentoring, and advisory support to support them to adapt and strengthen their businesses

Those six essential areas for future support, are:

  • Build emotional resilience to address the short and long-term impacts of the pandemic and other shocks
  • Stimulate and support business pivots that are essential for survival and growth
  • Enable digital solutions that offer the promise of a sustainable future
  • Create linkages between entrepreneurs and private sector actors to leverage expertise, innovation, and technology
  • Enable entrepreneurs’ access to finance
  • Invest in and develop fully inclusive outreach and programmes’

‘I am very grateful for YBI and the Google.org funding initiative. Funding allows an external person to help refocus your attention to the things that allow you to move forward successfully,’ says Georgia Dive, founder and Managing Director of the Bay of Plenty-based  Babysitters Club and Icehouse Alumni.

‘What’s really changed for me is the whole idea of compounding results. Now I'm really long-term focused, and I understand that every little decision or action now, will result in a more significant, ‘smarter’ decisions which will help grow the business further down the track.’

Blair James, Managing Director of James Group and a fellow Icehouse Alumni added: ‘Having this funding has enabled me to continue with the utilisation of the Icehouse mentoring services, which would have otherwise dried up... Having these funds as not only helped me to act swiftly with confidence having a level headed mentor like Ken [Leeming – Icehouse coach] supporting me, it now helps me to look beyond the turbulence to what lies ahead and plan and prepare the business for the various stages of recovery.

‘It has also helped us to get more speed out of the boat so to speak but peeling back the various layers of the business and get a true understanding about where it is we play... By doing this, it has helped me to streamline the business and redirect our efforts and energy to our core skills and service offerings. Without the mentorship, I wouldn’t have been able to seek advice and guidance or be held to account for my response as a leader to the cards Covid has dealt us.’

Please read the full report at Youth Business International’s website.

For information on how capability building programmes, workshops and advisory can help your business, click  here

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs

Icehouse Alumni? For more Icehouse content head to Icehouse Central and register now. Follow this link.   

Topics: Partnerships, Youth Business International, Google.org, Covid-19