Despite its strong economic growth in recent years, Latin America continues to be a challenging region in which to be an entrepreneur. Difficulty in navigating complex bureaucratic regulations, a lack of infrastructure, and a large informal sector can be formidable obstacles to starting one’s own business. Furthermore, cultural factors, such as a risk-averse mentality, lack of familiarity with the concept of “entrepreneurship,” and perceptions of the government as the main source of jobs have also posed significant difficulties to entrepreneurship in the region.
In the face of these daunting challenges, entrepreneurship initiatives have sprung up across Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years in an effort to educate youth about the importance and benefits of free enterprise for democratic and economic development. Countries such as Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador have adopted programs to educate youth about entrepreneurship and prepare them for running a business, with positive results. Now, one such initiative has arrived in an unexpected place: Puerto Rico.
In many ways, Puerto Rico is a bridge between the United States and Latin America. While the island is a self-governing U.S. commonwealth and its inhabitants possess U.S. citizenship, its language, culture, and geography link Puerto Rico to Latin America and the Caribbean. Indeed, Puerto Rican entrepreneurs and small business owners often face many of the same obstacles that their counterparts throughout Latin America must confront.
P@SHA workshop with Jawwad Ahmed Farid (center) and Karachi School for Business & Leadership students.
What are the necessary steps to take an idea from conception into a commercial reality? How do you strategize and pitch a business idea to a potential investor? How do you select good talent and put together a team? According to CIPE partner Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT & ITES (P@SHA), young aspiring entrepreneurs in Pakistan are full of questions like these.
Entrepreneurs are desperately needed for Pakistan’s future. The country currently faces two significant challenges: a youth bulge and a slow growth.
Today, youth under the age of 30 make up an astonishing two-thirds of the total population. Coupled with this is a slow economy—Pakistan is experiencing limited GDP growth—and the business community and the public sector simply cannot provide enough jobs for employable youth. As a way to address these issues, P@SHA led an eight-month youth entrepreneurship program targeting university students in the technology field.
There’s much buzz around the world these days about harnessing the potential of youth to ignite future economic growth and development. As society’s most idealistic group, they are full of energy and new ideas to start a new venture or challenge the status quo. Yet youth, more often than adults, face myriad of challenges to becoming entrepreneurs.
In this week’s Economic Reform Feature Service article, three winners from CIPE’s 2012 International Youth Essay Competition in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation category, explore various topics about youth entrepreneurship, including: what barriers do young entrepreneurs in their countries face in translating their ideas into products and services? How do young entrepreneurs foster new ways of acting and thinking?
Participants of the LíderAcción program
A few months back, Martin Friedl wrote about the impact that the Instituto Invertir’s LíderAcción program
has had on improving youth’s perceptions of a market economy and democracy. LíderAcción
, a leadership and entrepreneurship program for rural Peruvian youth, is also providing students with the tools to start their own business. Having only just finished its second year, the results in numbers are impressive:
3,600 = number of university students that have applied for the program
300 = number of rural university students who have completed the courses on democracy, free market economics, leadership and entrepreneurship
5,000+ = number of other university students and community members reached through the multiplicative efforts of LíderAcción students
78 = number of business plans developed with guidance from leading academics and business practitioners
20+ = number of actual businesses all over Perú that have been started by LíderAcción students
Last week marked the International Education Week celebrating the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. It was also the Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative to inspire young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity. The values and ideas underlying both those celebrations are at the core of Saeed Mahmoud Jajah’s winning essay in the category of “Entrepreneurship and Leadership” of the 2009 CIPE International Youth Essay Competition.
He talks about the current state of youth entrepreneurship in Ghana and challenges facing young entrepreneurs such as lack of confidence and capital, unfriendly business environment, or lack of proper education and technical know-how. But there is a way forward. Through improved business environment, better training and access to funding, mentorship programs, and other similar initiatives, more Ghanaian students will have a chance of becoming entrepreneurs and realizing their dreams.
Article at a Glance
- Due to an unfavorable business climate and a lack of proper education, many young people in Ghana view entrepreneurship as a risk that is not worth taking.
- The government and the private sector need to work together to foster a new culture of entrepreneurship among the Ghanaian youth.
- With the proper incentives and motivation youth can become a major source of economic growth in Ghana.