"Among low-income economies, an average of 35 per cent of entrepreneurs state they started their businesses because they had no better option for work". ~Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2018
Traditionally, significant investment has been made into helping foster “general" entrepreneurship, but supporting value-creating entrepreneurship, where the biggest opportunities lie, has lagged due to resource and opportunity constraints for digital innovators.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, people's personal and work lives were disrupted, value chains were interrupted and national ambitions were challenged as whole economic sectors came to halt. Yet, in many communities around the world, digital innovators were already working on a way to make the “new normal" something better for their communities.
WTDC-17 Output 3.4
, ITU membership recognizes that “innovation is a powerful engine for development and for addressing social and economic challenges". Furthermore, it mandates the BDT to:
- foster ICT entrepreneurship, ICT SMEs and start-up creation and scale-up; and
- bridge gaps in the ecosystem with concrete activities (e.g. linking global ecosystems, fostering local ecosystems).
Through the ITU Innovation Challenges, countries can:
- recognize and grow digital entrepreneurship by discovering and engaging with change-makers and their projects;
- connect ecosystems to global resources and other ecosystems; and
- nurture a community of change-makers for social impact.
The ITU Innovation Challenges are an annual challenge held in partnership with stakeholders at both the national and international levels. They are an open global competition platform for innovators and ecosystem builders to present their ideas and projects, empowering them to transform their communities into thriving digital societies.
While the scale-up support provided to the winners depends on sponsors and partners, each challenge aims to ensure impact to inspire a community of digital change-makers focused on developing countries' issues.