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Entrepreneurship draws Southeast Asia’s youth

Jonathan De Luca
Research Awards

“The top priority for youth in Myanmar and Vietnam isn’t a high salary,” says Jonathan de Luca, 2017 IDRC Research Award Recipient. “It’s adequate health, being able to spend time with family, and to develop and use skills.”

This finding suggests that policymakers and business leaders don’t understand the needs of young

women and men, he says. “Interviews with policymakers and business leaders show that they believe that providing better paying work is sufficient.”

De Luca’s research focused on youth livelihoods in medium-sized cities of the Greater Mekong sub-region. “Dawei in Myanmar and Quy Nhon in Vietnam are experiencing rapid economic development as a result of export-oriented industrialization and manufacturing,” he says. Despite the steady jobs this industrialization creates, he found that young people are much more interested in self-employment because of the freedom and autonomy it affords them.

De Luca confesses that “I really had no idea how everything would come together until a month into the analysis phase where I took a step back and thought “Ah-hah! This actually is telling a really interesting story!”

“I can’t forget that my research exists only because there were young people in Vietnam and Myanmar who wanted to talk to me about the issues that affect them and tell me about their aspirations and hopes for life and work in the future,” he says. “I not only owe it to them for helping me to complete my research, but I also owe it to them to have my work contribute to some change in this world.”

“So even though my year at IDRC is over, I’m going to take this research with me and try and help it to influence something in some way.”

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