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Merging charity and corporate values will enhance role of sport
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Writing from the Beyond Sport Summit and Awards, Mel Paramasivan asks how sport can support economic development for young people.

Sport is a marginal economic intervention in the development sector despite securely bridging young people and skills development with donor investments that support corporate business values. The role of sport in the economic development of young people was at the centre of debate at the Beyond Sport conference in London.

Speakers from Fight for Peace International, Street Step, Ocean Academy, Premiership Rugby and Magic Bus UK all shared how sport could bring about opportunities for young people in their programmes and the range of examples shared, from aquatic tourism to the strategic placement of programme participants in employment, prove that sport has a larger role to play in this space. So how can sport support economic development for young people - the world’s most vulnerable population?

The social enterprise model
Luke Dowdney, director and founder, Fight for Peace International, placed particular emphasis on social enterprise, after global sports brand Reebok bought LUTA Clothing. The combat clothing company founded by Dowdney donated 50% of its profits to Fight For Peace (FFP) and will continue to sustain the charity’s income under the new partnership deal. Understanding the changing expectations and conditions for partnerships, Dowdney highlights the importance of social enterprise – a middle ground for charities to change their traditional aid-recipient model and evolving CSR initiatives that seek to integrate social strategies within their business. Working with corporate partners in the financial sector has also given young people in their programmes access to financial mentorship and business development opportunities to enhance their learning and development.

Young people creating their employment opportunities
Young people are disproportionally affected by unemployment and this inequality will continue to increase as the world’s population is projected to grow from 7.3 billion to 9.7 billion in 2050. Joni miller, co-founder of the Ocean Academy, emphasised the importance of young people creating their own jobs and being innovative in the job market to secure employment opportunities. Based in Belize and set against beautiful oceans that bring in tourists from around the world, job opportunities are limited and centered around aquatic tourism.

At Ocean Academy, high-school students are offered the opportunity to gain lessons and qualifications in diving and fishing, which ordinarily cost money, to ensure they can enter the local job market immediately. By teaching young people about business and enterprise, they have the opportunity to undertake small business ventures at school, so that they can see a business cycle from start to finish and use these experiences to develop their own ideas and even invent their own jobs. The programme was recognised at the Beyond Sport Awards last year, winning the prestigious Education Award.

Both social enterprise and innovation link into global calls for increased sustainability both in the NGO and corporate sectors and these examples support the creative and powerful impact sport can have in building dynamic partnership and programme models.


[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]

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