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The Youth Business International (YBI) Special – discussion evening at the 'Shoptalk' forum....

What is YBI ?

 

Bob Harris, who currently coordinates the WCoMC involvement with YBI, gave an introduction to the organisation and our involvement.

Youth Business International (YBI) was set up some 14 years ago as a joint initiative of the International Business Leaders Forum and the Princes Trust, with an objective to help disadvantaged young people around the world to become entrepreneurs and set up their own businesses.  YBI member organisations now operate in 50 countries, although the Princes Trust is no longer the UK member and Prince Charles has stepped back from any involvement.  The YBI Network Team based in London comprises c30 people and provides methodological leadership and support to all member organisations, and through international supporters such as Accenture, Barclays, BG Group and EY it also provides financial support to members in developing countries.

What is WCoMC's involvement?

WCoMC has been given the responsibility, over the last seven years, for advising on the accreditation (or reviewing/assessing the work) of these associated organisations to ensure that high standards are in place, with proper controls over the organisation and that the objectives of YBI are being achieved. Governance, Leadership, Sustainability, Financial Transparency & Risk Management are some of the areas covered.  Our work is on a pro-bono basis and a typical review requires ten days of effort, although expenses are met by YBI, who also provide a UK briefing and some staff support.  Final reports with conclusions and a recommendation on whether to a) accredit fully, b) accredit with conditions or c) withhold accreditation are presented to the YBI Accreditation Committee for decision at post review meetings in London.

The 50 organisations are reviewed on a 3-5 year cycle, meaning that 10-15 need to be done each year.

Some 30 members of the Company have so far been engaged in the work in far flung areas using often forgotten talents. 

Foreign language ability is often required, and having members with Brazilian Portuguese and Russian, as well as European fluency has been invaluable.

Reports from the front line 

Gia Campari & John Corneille talked about their experiences on past & recent assignments.

Gia had previously worked in Jamaica & Paraguay, and more recently in Peru & Spain;  John had recently worked in Uganda & Kenya;

They both described the work as 'the hardest' but 'most rewarding' they personally recalled. Seeing the impact that YBI made on young people - and how it allowed both personal & commercial development in areas where the alternative was quite likely that these young people would be a social liability.

Gia recalled Jamaica as a particularly frightening society; Grant recipients had been held up at gunpoint on the way to bank their funds - by people they knew;

John described (with closed eyes) a drive between towns in Uganda which he was relieved to survive. But there was always optimism; Peru & Spain were two of the best organisations Gia had visited; Pop-Up offices were used for administering the activity in Peru.

In Kenya, the original YBI member organisation had split into two, with their headquarters in Nairobi and Mombasa, with the leadership team from the latter travelling to Nairobi for the review as it would not be safe for him to travel to the coastal area.    The governance in both areas was of a high quality & financial transparency was accepted as essential; It helped avoid political interference.

 

Mary Collis was just travelling back from assignments in Jamaica & Dominica, and Alan Broomhead was about to depart for Mongolia.

Other work at an advanced stage of planning was for Robert Fonteijn to visit Tunisia, Satjit Singh to visit Israel, Anastasia Kourovskaia to visit Russia & Jeff Herman to visit the Netherlands.

Major overturning events....

The audience asked 'the panel' testing questions including those about the funding of the activity, the protection & support offered to WCOMC reviewers, and the frequency that 'special measures' were required as a result of the reviews.

In answer to the last question Bob said that reviews leading to the withdrawal of accredited status were the exception, but did occur, with the primary concerns revolving around governance, political interference and financial integrity.   Member organisations in Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa had all left the YBI network over the last few years.  Some other YBI member organisations were currently in a state of suspension due to major events outside their control - including at present the Ukraine member (reviewed last by David Glassman) and the Syrian member.

What does it do for the WCoMC profile?

In conclusion, Bob reported that the YBI Accreditation Committee and its Chief Executive had expressed great thanks for the experience and expertise that WCOMC members had brought to the accreditation process.

The next meeting will be on Thursday 30th July; Same timing; same place; (i.e. 5:30 at Wood St Bar & Restaurant, 53 Fore St, EC2Y 8AX)  Working focus:  "Consulting on big systems in big organisations."  Lead Speaker - Simon Engwell

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Bob Harris

Assistant David Johnson

 

 

 

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