Urmila Sarkar, Generation Unlimited: ““I really believe that young people can make a difference in the world”

Urmila Sakar, Generation Unlimited

Consider the following: there are approximately 1.8 billion young people in the world today on the cusp of adulthood, but for a significant majority of these individuals the prospects of getting a decent job  or starting their own business are very limited.

It is estimated that one in four young people are not in education, training or employment (NEET) with twice as many young women in NEET as compared to young men.  Millions of young people – particularly from low-income contexts – lack the basic skills and availability of opportunities to help ensure economically stable, dignified lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

That fact is why Generation Unlimited was launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2018, as a public-private youth partnership anchored in UNICEF with the goal of connecting young people with skills and opportunities worldwide. The organisation’s goal is to unlock opportunities for young people by boosting entrepreneurial skills, driving employment and livelihood opportunities, and supporting equitable access and connectivity to the digital environment – all with the intention of diminishing the gap that exists for young people, one which is often decided by where they happen to have been born.

For Urmila Sarkar, the founder and lead of programmes at Generation Unlimited, this gap in opportunity was made quite evident to her early in life. As she explains it, “I am a Canadian of Bengali origin. From a young age, when I would visit Calcutta, I couldn’t understand why there were other girls like me that just didn’t have the same chances as me, whether it be in getting an education, or seeing them homeless living on the streets. I felt that unfairness from a young age. It was later in university through my student leadership and as an international volunteer managing the African leg of the Global March – Against Child Labour that I really developed the belief that young people can make a difference in the world, whether it be about building a more sustainable future , eradicating poverty or advancing child rights”

GenU has a geographical footprint in over 80 different countries since 2019, and draws from a network of over 3,000 partners in both the public and private spaces. Generation Unlimited started with a model focusing on priority countries, delivering results that now enable scaling these programmes into other countries and reaching more marginalised youth and their communities with greater confidence. When asked for any individual success stories that come to mind, Sarkar points to a programme called the imaGen Ventures Youth Challenge that has been launched in over 60 countries worldwide.

She explains, “We had a young person called Calvin a couple of years ago who grew up in the urban slums of Nairobi who didn’t have much of a formal education, but what he did have was a really good, big idea. He had a thought around how we can better use the organic waste found around the slums as an alternative sources of fuel that also helps the environment: a concept of bio-briquettes that he called Moto bricks. He entered it into a competition, and we provided him with specific skills through what we refer to as a boot camp in the entrepreneurial space, and then also helped support the business plan and concept development. He ended up winning the competition, which was worldwide. He was also recently awarded and recognized for this work during COP27 last year.”

“Now what we’ve seen with his programme is that – with some support from Generation Unlimited and the partners – he is actively running a business and that, as a youth himself in his early 20s, he’s employing 50 other young people. We’re continuing to help support him in how he can scale this work, while also encouraging other young people to follow his example. He’s become a leader in the community, showing that with just some ideas, more upskilling, and education, that one can have a better life.”

It’s examples like this that show the potential impact of Generation Unlimited’s initiatives, and strikes a note of hope for Sarkar when thinking about what the future holds. She explains, “I’d like to see a future where young people are empowered; where they drive innovations and solutions that can be scaled to make a difference for their communities and the world around them. I’d also like to see a world where we talk a lot about growth, but we ensure that we don’t leave anyone behind; one where we see inclusive development for the most marginalised and disadvantaged people, and that they have the same types of opportunities and choices that I’ve been privileged to have. That’s the world I’d like to see.” While this world Urmila Sarkar envisions seems a far way away from the one we’re currently living in, the work that she and others at Generation Unlimited are doing is starting to make a difference, and is shining a light on the pathway needed to hopefully transform it into a reality.

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Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. 

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HEJ WASTE here! 🌍 

We work to reduce plastic waste and improve the conditions faced by informal waste workers 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

In India, 15 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, but only around 25% of that waste is recycled. There are also millions of informal waste workers in India who play a key role in plastic waste management but often don’t earn a living wage and are subject to environmental pollution.

Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. 

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HEJ WASTE here! 🌍 

We work to reduce plastic waste and improve the conditions faced by informal waste workers 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

In India, 15 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, but only around 25% of that waste is recycled. There are also millions of informal waste workers in India who play a key role in plastic waste management but often don’t earn a living wage and are subject to environmental pollution.

Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. 

Read more about how we’re creating a more positive impact on the livelihoods of waste workers and the planet 👇
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HEJ WASTE here! 🌍 

We work to reduce plastic waste and improve the conditions faced by informal waste workers 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

In India, 15 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, but only around 25% of that waste is recycled. There are also millions of informal waste workers in India who play a key role in plastic waste management but often don’t earn a living wage and are subject to environmental pollution.

Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. 

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HEJ WASTE here! 🌍 

We work to reduce plastic waste and improve the conditions faced by informal waste workers 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

In India, 15 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, but only around 25% of that waste is recycled. There are also millions of informal waste workers in India who play a key role in plastic waste management but often don’t earn a living wage and are subject to environmental pollution.

Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. 

Read more about how we’re creating a more positive impact on the livelihoods of waste workers and the planet 👇
https://ikeafoundation.org/stories/annual-review-2023/ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #WasteSystemsTransformation #WasteManagement #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ WASTE here! 🌍 We work to reduce plastic waste and improve the conditions faced by informal waste workers 🧑‍🤝‍🧑 In India, 15 million metric tonnes of plastic waste are generated every year, but only around 25% of that waste is recycled. There are also millions of informal waste workers in India who play a key role in plastic waste management but often don’t earn a living wage and are subject to environmental pollution. Our #2023AnnualReview highlight was about our Financial Inclusion and Improved Livelihoods Out of Plastics (FINILOOP) programme in India, where 364 metric tonnes of additional plastic waste were collected and recycled and, as a result of supporting informal waste workers in obtaining vital government documents, 111 children received access to education. Read more about how we’re creating a more positive impact on the livelihoods of waste workers and the planet 👇 https://ikeafoundation.org/stories/annual-review-2023/ #AnnualReviewSeries #WasteSystemsTransformation #WasteManagement #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
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HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 

Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭

2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. 

Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 

Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭

2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. 

Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 

Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭

2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. 

Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 

Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭

2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. 

Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 

Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭

2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. 

Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ we’re @practical_action! 👋 Are you curious to hear what our #2023AnnualReview highlight was? 💭 2023 marked the conclusion of our five-year Transforming Rural Economies and Youth Livelihoods (TREYL) programme. Our partnership with the IKEA Foundation has improved incomes and livelihoods for 9,400 young entrepreneurs, half of them women. Learn more about Practical Action and how we’re transforming rural economies and youth livelihoods through #RegenerativeAgriculture to create more opportunities for farmers via the link in our bio 🔗 #AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
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HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. 

Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty.

Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗

Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. 

Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty.

Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗

Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. 

Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty.

Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗

Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. 

Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty.

Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗

Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. 

Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty.

Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗

Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ 

#AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
HEJ! 👋 We’re @acumenorg and we’re excited to share our #2023AnnualReview highlight from our collaboration with IKEA Foundation. Talking about failure can be uncomfortable, but when we don’t, we miss the opportunity to grow. The value of failure is in helping us – and other funders, philanthropic organisations and companies – to learn from mistakes, create more impact and make real progress towards eradicating poverty. Learn more about Acumen and how we’re inviting others to share their learnings from failures and enabling actors to make wiser decisions in the future via the link in our bio 🔗 Stay tuned for the next partner review! ⭐ #AnnualReviewSeries #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
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2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰

For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙

Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍

Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗

#PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰

For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙

Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍

Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗

#PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰

For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙

Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍

Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗

#PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰

For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙

Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍

Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗

#PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰

For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙

Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍

Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗

#PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
2023 marked the halfway point to the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (2030) ⏰ For our #2023AnnualReview, we asked some of our partners to take a look back at the past year to reflect on their progress and learnings 🔙 Follow our socials and join us on a journey to see if it’s still possible to change the future of our planet 🌍 Read more about our 2023 Annual Review via the link in our bio 🔗 #PeopleAndPlanet #IKEAFoundationHighlights2023
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