Building Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

Entrepreneurship is among the most basic and fundamental human endeavors. Every day, people around the world seek new and innovative ways to make a living, to start a new venture, to capitalize on an idea. From street vendors to hi-tech innovators, entrepreneurs come in all shapes and forms. What unites them is the desire to apply their talents and available resources in the best way they can. What distinguishes them is the degree to which they can realize these aspirations depending on to the environment they operate in.

The importance of entrepreneurship goes beyond the immediate, individual achievement. If a proper supporting environment exists to productively channel the entrepreneurial spirit, such individual efforts add up to systemic impact. As demonstrated by successful country examples from Ireland to Chile, entrepreneurship has the power of moving economies to new stages of development and helping societies become more participatory and inclusive.

This article addresses the significance of entrepreneurship to democratic and economic development by focusing on two key elements of entrepreneurship-driven transformations. First, the focus on entrepreneurship must start with entrepreneurs themselves. What does it mean to be an entrepreneur? The article examines this concept, its evolution in recent years, as well as new opportunities and persistent challenges that entrepreneurs face. Second, for entrepreneurs to thrive, there needs to exist a supportive ecosystem of intertwined factors ranging from infrastructure to financial access. Policy frameworks and institutions play a particularly important role in entrepreneurship ecosystems and this article discusses ways of shaping such policies and institutions, focusing on how entrepreneurs can be constructively engaged in dialogue with decision-makers.

Article at a glance:

  • Entrepreneurship is at the very core of vibrant market economies and democracies that deliver opportunity to their citizens. By strengthening economic pluralism entrepreneurship provides a strong context for healthy political competition and checks on government power.
  • While globalized economy creates new, unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurs worldwide, challenges persist especially for large numbers of developing country entrepreneurs stuck in the informal sector. Helping citizens move from necessity to opportunity entrepreneurship is key to democratic development.
  • Building entrepreneurship ecosystems requires attention to multiple and interconnected elements, with a particular focus on locally driven policy reforms. Private sector, through business associations and chambers of commerce, can provide invaluable input into the design of such reforms as well as their implementation.
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