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For Business
December 3, 2013

How Nokia’s supporting entrepreneurs to solve youth unemployment

Nokia’s Smarter everyday philosophy helps people get the most out of their working life, by showcasing ideas about productivity, collaboration and technology adoption.

One way we can contribute is by sharing Nokia best practices with other companies and organizations worldwide. A recent example of this was when Yiwen Wu, a Business Development & Partnership Manager at Nokia, attended the One Young World 2013 summit in Johannesburg, South Africa. The yearly summit, which took place in October, brings together young leaders across the world to find solutions for pressing global issues. Yiwen was picked as one of just 46 speakers to address close to 1500 delegates on youth unemployment.

We spoke to her to discover what the experience was like, and to find out how Nokia is helping solve the challenge of youth unemployment.

To begin with, could you tell us how you ended up working at Nokia and what you do?

nokia entrepreneurs2

“I joined Nokia in May last year after initially coming to Finland as a guest student from Shanghai, China in 2009. After working for a venture capital company, I joined an excursion organized by Nokia. I was hugely inspired by what I heard about their strategies and sent in my CV. Now I’m part of the Corporate Development department and have a chance to see those strategies take shape. One of the things I’m active with is technology-out licensing, which is what I spoke about at the summit.”

Almost a quarter of the world’s youth are neither working nor studying. How do you think businesses should help solve this very universal problem?

“First of all, like many, I thought corporations should just hire more young people. But this is not sustainable, especially during economic downturns, when companies aren’t growing and they still have a responsibility to shareholders. That’s where entrepreneurism comes in. Many young people start new companies but most startups stay alive less than two years. They don’t have the managerial skills, the financing, or the technology knowledge. Corporations can share this know-how with startups, and that’s what Nokia has been doing.”

So, how is Nokia involved?

“As part of the Bridge program for ex-employees, in selected cases, Nokia licenses out its technology to promising start-ups. Large corporations wouldn’t usually do that, because it’s too risky or not rewarding enough, but it can be win-win. We help the startups set up their business in a sustainable way and identify risks. By providing them with the technology they need, we save them R&D costs they couldn’t afford. It’s also a lot easier for them to get external funding.

Once the business is up and running, Nokia gets compensation based on their revenues. It’s been great to be involved in this. I’ve had frequent meetings with the entrepreneurs, to discuss their business plans and to explore the added value from Nokia’s selected technology… Some of the entrepreneurs become very close to me, like a network of professional friends I’ll stay in touch with.”

What did you most enjoy about the summit and what inspiration did you bring back?

“Firstly, I’d like to thank the sustainability team and the technology-out licensing team for giving me this amazing opportunity. Secondly, I was happy to share something very positive with the public about how Nokia’s giving back to the community. I really think Nokia’s doing an excellent job… sustainable business models like this can last a long time. A similar model could work for corporations around the world.


Nokia entrepreneurs

Something else I brought back was a feeling that I am very lucky. I met such brave and inspiring young delegates who struggle with different problems in their lives and their countries, while I have a job I love in a place where everything is so well. But I came out thinking that us young people, rather than accusing others and sitting back, could really solve this employment crisis together. And I’m glad that at Nokia I can play a small part in that.”

Youth unemployment is clearly an issue, which affects business and society alike. Nokia’s proactive approaching to entrepreneurism and collaboration is one way to help tackle it, but there are plenty more. If you have any experience of success in this field or ideas you think would work, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.