In early July, the Youth Time International Movement welcomed the global youth community to the ninth edition of the International Youth Summer School. This year the annual event was held in the capital of southwestern China’s Sichuan province, Chengdu. Read highlights from the event.
Useful insights and new opportunities for entrepreneurs who plan to go international in Eurasia were the core focus of the school’s program, of which the main topic was «Bridge Capital and Technology: Corporations along the Silk Road, Innovationsin Entrepreneurship». According to the available statistics, many of the proposed infrastructure investments in Eurasia are estimated to provide significant advantages to investors, with the share of projects that provide gains for investors increasingto almost two-thirds in certain sectors. But how can young adults take advantage of the opportunities that are waiting for them in the Silk Road regions?
Day 1: International Cooperation in Eurasia: How Young People Can Be Involved?
At the event in Chengdu, young entrepreneurs from around the world got a chance to explore how global markets can help them to achieve success. In his opening keynote, founder of the World Public Forum Dialogue of Civilizations, Vladimir Yakunin, emphasized that through the Belt and Road Initiative economic growth and job opportunities for young people will emerge. “Low income countries along the BRI route have witnessed a growth rate of 2.8-9.7%, and time-sensitive industries such as fresh fruits and electronics can benefit from this initiative”, he explained.The executive director of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Li Jinfeng, also pointed out that despite the fact that China’s Belt and Road Initiative is very much subject to debate, especially in Western democractic countries, the initiative itself is a mechanism for dialogue and cooperation that can deliver real benefits to people along the route, for example by bringing new ways for job markets and educational markets to cooperate in different countries.
Cooperation was one of the main themes that experts at the first working day of the Summer School emphasized in their presentations. Local entrepreneur Yaohua Deng mentioned the importance of synergies in the new places where start-ups wish to invest. In order to choose the right strategy, including financial and operational markets and identifying policy risks & trade war impacts, it is crucial to be familiar with the environment where a business plans to expand. For this reason, for now the major market for Chinese companies is the Asia-Pacific region.
One of the questions that was raised in relation to international cooperation respecting business in the BRI zone was whether foreign companies still find it difficult to succeed in the Chinese market, mainly due to the prominent presence of the Communist Party in key decision-making, which makes it tough for many companies to comply. Dr. Jianfeng Wu, a professor at the University of International Business Economics, suggested however that in the near future the situation could be changed, mainly because of increasing wages in China and the growth of the middle class. “These factors are leading to rising demand for quality products. The highest consumption has been reported in housing, transportation, and telecommunication, all of which are attractive business opportunities for budding entrepreneurs to explore. But of course to venture and succeed in the landscape of China, foreign companies need to bring unique propositions to Chinese consumers at competitive prices”, he explained.
Day 2: Want to Be Successful? Be Technologically Advanced
The second day of the Summer School was more practice-oriented and included a few master-classes and a business game. George Malokal, CEO of the ALCOR Fund in Chicago, highlighted in his presentation the importance of setting goals for all aspects in our lives – professional & personal. He outlined the four main characteristics that an entrepreneur must have: the qualities of a good king, an able warrior, a peacemaker and a realistic creator. According to Molakal, it is crucial to be able to combine all four sets of skills in order to be competitive.
He also mentioned that, in addition to personal abilities, being technologically advanced is most important in the modern start-up market. Enumerating the importance of adopting digital technologies and skills, Molakal said that 50% of the companies in most markets lack the digital skills they require. “To keep up with the changing pace of trends, it is critical to be updated with technological advancements”, he explained.
The session highlighted the importance of maintaining focus and bringing tenacity to bear for any entrepreneurial venture to succeed. The speaker mentioned that usually our focus is short-term, but it is crucial to have a vision and to invest in long-term planning. Ending the session with the quote “Success is not final and failure is not fatal”, he urged the audience to be bold and take risks.
The study program of the School concluded with a business simulation game facilitated by Mr. Alexej Stepanov, the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Social Democracy. His main goal wasto test the practical skills required for business development and negotiation strategies, along with the intercultural communication that participants acquired during the very intense program at the Summer School. “I wanted to let participants experiment with these skills and knowledge. There are not a lot of opportunities for young people to meet in this way and to discuss initiatives such as this one. I mean BRI is an international economic initiative with impact around the Globe. Just having young people here discussing it, what benefits they have from it, how they can further use it is already a win”, he explained.
Mr. Stepanov also emphasized that intercultural communication is one of the most important aspects of this Summer School. It is bringing people from completely different cultures and backgrounds together and giving them the opportunity and chance to meet each other and spend time with each other to break down barriers between cultures, learn together, and create partnerships for the future.
You can learn more about the Youth International Summer School by watching the videos from the event on the Youth Time official YouTube channel. Also keep up with the most recent updates from our events on Instagram @YouthTimeMovement.
The event was organized in cooperation with China Soong Ching Ling Foundation.