Young people are too often seen as a target for products, rather than being given the resources to become entrepreneurs, said Elise Van Driel from Rabobank at the Cooperatives and Youth: Empowerment, Employment and Engagement forum during the two day closing ceremony of the IYC in New York.
Elise Van Driel, project leader of the UN IYC at Rabobank, chaired the event and read out a statement from Chairman of the Executive Board of Rabobank, Mr. Piet Moerland.
The Chairman could not make it to New York for the ceremony, but in his statement used the work Rabobank, one of the biggest co-operative financial institutions in the world, had been doing across the Ivory Coast to show how co-ops empower youth.
Reading out the statement Elise said: “As a financial institution we support the rural co-operatives and with that we stimulate education for the children at primary school. Currently we have experts on the ground who provide young farmers with technical education. The ambition is that we grow to a model of ‘farmers training farmers’ and after that to a permanent school.
“At the same time we advise clients of Rabobank from SME to large Corporations to invest in developing countries. From aid to trade.”
She said that co-operatives can play a leading role for change. “Another point that I would like to address is that all over the world young people are too often seen as a target for products or services to sell;” she continued.
“Co-operatives empower individuals to gain access to markets that would otherwise remain closed or only accessible under unfavorable conditions.”
Over the International Year of Cooperatives, Rabobank has completed two successful projects to create opportunities for young people. The first was the World Food Game, a Facebook Game, created by and for young people. For this they won the 2012 Co-Creation award.
The second project was called World = U. Elise explained: “In this project, people had the chance to collectively engage in activities and experience themselves the escalating impact one could have by working together. A positive side effect is that some of these young people are now active members of Rabobank. A perfect example of a win-win situation.”
The Youth Forum was held on 19 November and the Youth Statement on Cooperatives, which was discussed at the forum, will be proposed at the final event on 20 November.