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22 March 2013

Entrepreneurship: a Key Element for Development and Growth

Estimated reading time Time 2 to read

It does not seem necessary to go over the various challenges faced today by nearly all industries and geographical areas. The global scale and interconnection of the corporate and economic worlds is a fact today. Even those markets and industries that seem to be removed from the epicenter of the current macroeconomic problems (only peripheral European countries?) face formidable challenges in terms of stability, growth or social inequality.

As an expert (and practitioner) for many years of the entrepreneurship phenomenon, I was always attracted by the correlation between entrepreneur ecosystems and developed economies. Societies like the Nordic countries in Europe, North America or the vigorous tigers in Asia —economies characterized by very high sustained growth rates— shared one feature: being societies where the entrepreneurial spirit was deeply rooted, accepted and promoted.

In the late 90s, a group of world-class business schools and universities designed a research methodology to correlate entrepreneurial activity and economic development in societies. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) was thus born. Almost fifteen years later it is a benchmark in nearly 75 countries and has enabled us to gain deeper knowledge of the contribution made by entrepreneurs to the growth of their societies.

The GEM Report, for which I had the honor of serving as chairman for some years, provides very precise keys on the evolution of entrepreneurial activity in the various markets and unequivocally relates the two factors mentioned above. In its latest reports, and to refer to a geographical area located in the epicenter of the financial storm (Spain), GEM describes a scenario marked by an alarming decline in entrepreneurial activity. Alarming in a context where the unsustainable unemployment rate alone should encourage entrepreneurship.

What is going wrong in Spain (other countries can also be cited) to prevent this boom in entrepreneurship projects?

Why have the authorities been unable to channel the talent and willpower in specific projects?

Why have public and private funds intended for promoting Innovation been wasted, and now cut off? (R&D or Management)

Why have many large corporations rejected the entrepreneurial skills of their organizations and professionals to look for alternative growth and prosperity formulas?

Some other time we will try to answer these questions. What’s your opinion?

Ignacio de la Vega



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