YUBN Phase 1 focused on the multiple challenges faced by young people in cities, as seen through articles and stories written by contributions from Asia’s urban writers, young entrepreneurs and activists. YUBN Phase 2 looks at how young people are seizing the economic potential of their cities for themselves. Again we are calling out for your contributions to help inspire other young entrepreneurs, as well as to understand how young people can start to unite behind a common understanding of their urban contribution, and share.


YUBN - New Urban Mobility Technologies: An Emerging Market in South Asia

New Urban Mobility Technologies: An Emerging Market in South Asia

Emerging economies like Pakistan and India (two countries of interest to this article), face overwhelming challenges in transportation and find it difficult to translate international recommendations into effective policies, with informal transport operators often filling the gap. The environmental and social impacts of unplanned growth directly affect the quality of life and urban productivity, including – congestion, energy consumption, air pollution, and traffic accidents. Urban transportation issues must address urban mobility requirements and need new approaches.

Read more…

YUBN - How entrepreneurship can support post-disaster recovery

How entrepreneurship can support post-disaster recovery

Post-disaster situations can open up opportunities for small businesses, boosting the local economy and enabling disaster-affected communities to support themselves. Caroline Baxter Tresise reflects on the role of coffee shops in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. Read more…

YUBN - Recycling computers, strengthening Nepal’s women leaders

Recycling computers, strengthening Nepal’s women leaders

In the 21st century everyone wants to simplify their life with the use of digital media. Simply put, digital literacy is the ability to effectively and critically navigate, it is the ability to use and create information. Computer literacy is a person’s ability to perform tasks effectively in the today’s digital environment.

Read more…

YUBN - A Policymaker’s Perspective: Empowering Pakistani Youth, the Young Development Fellowship Programme

A Policymaker’s Perspective: Empowering Pakistani Youth, the Young Development Fellowship Programme

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is definitely among one of the biggest achievements of my career. It is one of the largest foreign direct investment projects in Pakistan’s history and it has rightly been called a game changer for the entire region. Read more…

Young Urban Bloggers Network (YUBN)

The Young Urban Bloggers Network (YUBN) involves asking young people to share their unique perspectives on Asia’s development challenges through the production of articles, videos or photo journals to be published on the Asia Development Dialogue’s website. We will publish articles which showcase your experiences of Asian urban development-related issues, including: opinions or critiques of local economic development challenges; first-hand stories of start-ups, informal entrepreneurship, urban economic policy, employment and social protection issues.


Youth Make Our Prosperity

The second phase of the Young Urban Bloggers Network (YUBN), run by the Asia Development Dialogue is looking at how young people can define new urban futures in the region through a revisiting economic prosperity in cities, in the era of the web startup, and against the backdrop of Asia’s flourishing informal sector.

Young people form a huge part of the workforce in Asia and bring great benefits to the continent’s rapidly growing economies, as inexpensive labor, as well as avid consumers. Despite this, Asia’s youth still suffers from high levels of unemployment, as well as underemployment: the official average youth unemployment rate was around 12 per cent in 2015, whereas the underemployment rate is much higher. Many young people, especially young women, continue to work in dangerous, dirty or exploitative industries, often in the informal sector when they arrive in Asia’s cities.

While we encourage young people (up to 35 years of age) from all walks of life and all urban-related specialisms to send us articles for publication, we are particularly interested in hearing from contributors who can provide or help in the capturing of rarely published narratives. These could be voices from marginalized groups such as urban poor communities, women, gay and transgender people; migrants, refugees, or people from marginalized ethnic groups. In Phase 2 we are particularly interested in highlighting the experience of the entrepreneurs from the informal sector.

This blog aims to enrich our readers’ understanding of young peoples’ urban lives, and provide city dwellers, activists, writers, bloggers or journalists with a new outlet for expression and critical dialogue. At the same time, this will allow ADD’s existing network of urban development professionals to connect with ongoing development challenges in a new way.

YUBN sees cities as spaces in which young women and men can become economic actors, as entrepreneurs, as business owners, as employees. We are optimistic and think that they can contribute to better cities thanks to the use of new technologies such as apps, smartphones and the internet. The internet economy, and the current positive image of youth entrepreneurship as part of the Startup economy can help young people become more accepted, more visible and more protected, while contributing to more livable cities. YUBN sees urban entrepreneurship as a broad tent, encompassing the informal sector, the region’s emerging startup community, but also any young person trying to make their own business work in Asia’s challenging urban spaces. We think young people share similar challenges in Asia’s cities, even when operating within very different parts of the economy.


The Challenge

Connecting Formal and Informal Economies for more Inclusive Cities, Understanding and Framing Young Peoples’ Role in Urban Prosperity

We see the key challenges for young people as understanding how to start businesses but also how to negotiate, and tap into the potential of their communities and cities, to become more active economic agents, as creators of urban economic prosperity. As part of Asia’s urban “sharing economy” startups are increasingly visible, for some, a more exportable, acceptable dimension of Asia’s economic dynamism. Asian Cities are not the same as Portland or Paris though; they have large youth unemployment, more pollution, more chaos and significantly, a majority of people working in the informal sector. In Asia, and internationally, young people running startups are defining new ways of doing business, by using the advantages and needs of the region’s cities; looking at how space, and private goods can be shared, understood or sold through new mediums. Maybe they could also work towards the public good in a more effective way? Could the digital space more positively influence public space?

The informal economy is as old as the city. Informal businesses are often the definition of making something out of nothing; through providing nourishing food for thousands of people per day, by creating any product, or providing any service imaginable. We think that informal entrepreneurs need more recognition, that social business, informal business owners and startups can work together to improve cities. We need you to help us to explore this further.

According to UN-Habitat, globally 85% of employment in developing countries is being created in the informal economy, an economy that is without social or legal protection from the state or employer, or worse still, that suffers from prejudice and punitive measures from government and other actors.

What do informal entrepreneurs and the sharing economy have in common? They both work for the city, they both depend on young people, they are both dependent on the ingenuity of their leaders for success.

Right now, because cities are increasingly seen as crucial to both economic growth, and sustainable development, young people, are in a unique position to influence how cities develop as well as how wealth is created and shared.


How to take part

Come up with New Ideas, Share your challenges about starting your business, Get practical advice about starting up.

Startups and Social business as diverse as such as Grab in Singapore may not have started with only social objectives but they are part of a new movement of entrepreneurs who are positively impacting and reshaping cities through working within the challenges of Asian urbanization. Startups and Social enterprises can make money, but they can also share, and make sustainable, the huge amount of wealth that cities are generating as they grow. Thereby cities themselves can develop more equitably, and sustainably.


There are FOUR ways you can get involved



Share the story of your budding business and gain direct access to some of Asia and the World’s best startups firms.

Have you started your own SME, Startup or Social Enterprise recently? How’s it going so far? We would like to hear your stories of how you are starting these businesses in Asia’s burgeoning metropolises, what the problems you have faced are and what makes your business special. Does it contribute to better urban future for Asia? Has it developed a new model or market? Have you employed a particular group of people?



How might women from low income groups and informal workers participate in the success of the startup economy? How could the startup economy become better at solving urban social challenges? We are looking for your business ideas about how to connect the innovation and promise of the startup economy with the dynamic informal economies of Asia’s cities. Can the digital economy help to develop an Asia specific way of developing cities, and bring about greater prosperity at the same time?

The top idea will win two days of mentoring at a Startup Accelerator.

Worried about intellectual property? Our partners will sign a guarantee that your idea will always be yours. If you want to share it on the YUBN website, you can, if not we will just feature a profile story about you.



We are inviting critical articles that look at how cities can become more prosperous and more sustainable, in a way that includes and empowers youth, and in ways that strengthen the economic fabric of a city. These articles; photo essays or videos will focus on how young people in Asian cities can become masters of their own destiny, by starting their own businesses, by calling out unsavory business practices or by successfully encouraging government to do more. Maybe you don’t think the current movement for startups is going to help economies to grow? Maybe you have experience of an effective Local Economic Development policy implemented by a city? What are the Asian cities that are getting the balance right between economic development and poverty alleviation?



We all know that starting a successful business is hard. We are reaching out to you, the leaders of successful startups and social enterprises from across Asia to help us to make short film, photo essays or written pieces to help our budding entrepreneurs go further.

We’ll feature interviews and short webinars with the top SME, Social Enterprise and Startup specialists on the YUBN website.

Submit your articles, videos, photo essays before the 31st of May 2017to win the chance to be mentored by one of the region’s startups, or to be published on the YUNM website youthurbanbloggers@gmail.com

Stay tuned for a few podcasts from leading thinkers and startup gurus too!