At the heart of LP4Y (Life Project for Youth) is a deep-seated concern for the catastrophic situation facing a growing number of excluded youth worldwide.

Life on the streets can be tough, and many of these excluded young adults face a daily battle of survival. To help them cope with their harsh life conditions they develop skills they need to stay alive, and many of these skills are similar to those of entrepreneurs.

In 2009 a group of friends, entrepreneurs and young people came together to found LP4Y, an organisation dedicated to the social and professional integration of disadvantaged youth in the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Indonesia. Over the course of a year, the founders of LP4Y visited major cities in 23 countries, looking at ways they could harness the unique skills of excluded youth to help them live prosperous lives in society.

Working with core partners, including businesses, universities and local communities, LP4Y have developed an 18-month integration ecosystem for disadvantaged young adults living in conditions of extreme poverty. To deliver their programme, they have established Life Project Centres (LPCs) in key areas of the city’s they work, close to slum areas where excluded youth live. Here, they can provide the support needed to work towards social integration.

To be accepted into the programme, young adults must demonstrate strong commitment and motivation towards improving their future. Applicants typically live well below the poverty line and include people with disabilities, orphans, victims of domestic violence and young offender. Provided they can show commitment and motivation, all are welcome to apply.

Once accepted on to the programme, trainees are assigned a coach and invited to join a team of 15 other youth to work on an “economic micro-activity”. Often working as part of a team for the first time, they create, develop and manage a small business, focusing on the economic micro-activity developed by each Life Project Centre, and benefitting from the specially adapted coaching pedagogy.

Learning new skills and developing those they already possess, the young adults learn how to manage a business from conception to implementation including production, marketing, sales, admin and finance. Working in a positive, supportive environment, taking responsibility and initiative helps build confidence in their abilities, allowing them to further develop their entrepreneurial skills and professionalism.

LP4Y has two Life Project Centres in Ho Chi Minh City; one in Go Vap and the other in District 8, where teams are developing products and services for the Made 4 Change brand, a collection of goods showcasing what different groups are making at LPCs internationally.

Brands in Ho Chi Minh City include Bread & Smiles, a bread and cakes bakery that delivers; Lanterns & Lights, a group that works with lighting design and production; Seeds of Hope that cultivates and sells plants for urban gardens and Revival, an upcycling group that creates furniture and decorative objects out of recycled materials. Visit their Facebook page to find out more.