Listening Policy Workshop on Youth Policy
Date: November 6, 2012
Venue: Seoul Partners House
First of all, I will need some time to do a more in-depth review, as I have heard so many good policy ideas. However, there is one that caught my attention. I think it is a good idea to hold joint meetings on youth issues between our staff members and youth representatives on a regular basis.
You have just mentioned a variety of issues related to health, food, and employment, and I would like to have more in-depth conversations and discussions on these issues. Therefore, joint meetings should definitely be held. These meetings will become a channel through which the Seoul Metropolitan Government can listen to your ideas in more detail and tell you what actions can or cannot be taken. And if your suggestions require further review, we will ask for more time, making a series of meetings based on mutual communication essential. Also, at the end of the meeting, I would like you to share any difficulties you have faced while starting a business.
Unlike in the past, when support was provided for only one year, the Start-up Incubation Center provides support for two years. In the case of social enterprises with more than three years of experience, the Center offers work spaces in Gangseo and Guro districts. As such, I want to stress that customized start-up support is provided by stage. Not only that, we are now in the process of establishing a social investment fund that will amount to KRW 100 billion as well as a wide array of investment programs. The Center will become Korea’s first social investment bank.
Also, you said that you want the Seoul Metropolitan Government to purchase the services and goods you have created, and it is already doing so through a purchasing expo. To date, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has bought KRW 3 trillion worth of products made by social enterprises, firms operated by people with disabilities, and small businesses. This is a tremendous amount, but the Seoul Metropolitan Government is still seeking companies to produce more products and services, such as tissues and cleaning services. In this regard, I hope that you challenge yourselves to meet this need.
The Youth Social Enterprise Support Center is located near Garden Five in Gangnam, and the Gangbuk Social Enterprise Support Center is located in the former Mapo-gu Office building. I visited the Gangbuk Center, and the companies there actually make pretty good products and services. Of course, you will face some problems in the real world, but the Seoul Metropolitan Government will provide additional support in the areas of technology and design.
If you go to the Seoul Design Foundation in Dongdaemun, you will find a brand called “Design Tag,” which was created by the Foundation. This brand’s design and quality is so good that it is sold in Manhattan, New York. So, I thought to myself, “What if more creative products could be created by strengthening the distribution structure?” Addressing that need, the Seoul Business Agency (SBA) is an affiliate of the Seoul Metropolitan Government, and it has just started selling hand-made products created by social enterprises, small businesses, firms operated by people with disabilities, and even workshops run by housewives.
You have also said that you want your own stores, and to meet that demand, about 20 percent of the retail spaces in subway stations will now be used for public purposes, ensuring that not only the disabled but also young entrepreneurs qualify for such support. Additionally, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will make sure you get 20 percent of the commission fees if you sell products made by young entrepreneurs or people with disabilities. Selling such products brings enormous benefit to these people. In fact, selling products made by the underprivileged and people in need is an act of good will in itself. Thus, we are thinking of taking a home franchise approach, and several changes are currently being made in this regard.
Things are now changing constantly, and I was particularly impressed by the passion of Mr. Choi Seongho, whom I met in the store. With that level of enthusiasm, there is nothing you cannot accomplish.
Even if the Seoul Metropolitan Government implements well-packaged policies, it is up to you to determine how such policies are transformed into actions. As you have just pointed out, the Seoul Metropolitan Government might not be doing as much as it could, due to the bureaucratic procedures involved, but please share your opinions freely and tell us how and what we can improve. We are always willing to change things for the better.
Here, we have Director Kang Byungho, who is in charge of employment policy. Also, could all executive-level officials please stand up and greet the audience? They have all heard every single thing you have said today. Director Kim Sanggu, please say “hello” to the audience.
I have had such a wonderful time today, and I have written down everything you have said to me. Also, I have noted some issues that need to be discussed tomorrow in a different notebook. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a pretty good note-taker. However, it is more important to put words into actions instead of merely taking notes, right?
Many of the issues you have pondered and discussed for such a long time are rather infeasible at this point, but some are worth addressing immediately and some have already been discussed and reviewed by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Please give us a chance to join another round of discussion next time.