Entrepreneurs are key drivers of economic and social progress. Rapidly growing entrepreneurial enterprises are often viewed as important sources of innovation, productivity growth and employment (small and medium-sized enterprises account for 97% of all jobs in emerging economies). Many governments are therefore trying to actively promote entrepreneurship through various forms of support.
The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Stanford University, Ernst & Young and Endeavor, surveyed over 1,000 entrepreneurs from around the globe with the goal of better understanding how successful entrepreneurial companies accelerate access to new markets and become scalable, high-growth businesses.
Summary of Key Findings
- Major differences in entrepreneurial ecosystems exist from one region to the next. While entrepreneurs do consider expansion opportunities beyond their country or region, there is a potential alignment issue with governments who often adopt a strong country/regional focus in their entrepreneurial ecosystem policies.
- Entrepreneurs view three areas of an entrepreneurial ecosystem as being of pivotal importance – accessible markets, human capital/workforce and funding & finance. This report is the first large-scale study of ecosystems that systematically examines which pillars of an ecosystems matter most to entrepreneurs when it comes to the growth of their companies. A potential alignment issue can arise between the time horizon of an entrepreneur and the time horizon of a politician, with the latter’s typically following the electoral cycle.
- In most regions, often only a small number of breakout companies are the dominant contributors to a healthy, growing early-stage company sector. There are also substantially more similarities than differences in the issues facing entrepreneurs around the globe. These similar issues can be observed in all regions and have an impact on the major growth accelerators as well as the major growth challenges for early-stage companies.
- Large companies in the overall business ecosystem have the potential to provide important leverage for early-stage companies in their growth and development. However, the relationship is subject to minefields, swamps and choppy waters. The report highlights areas for productive relationships as well as areas where the relationship can inhibit growth or even be the source of revenue and job losses in an early-stage company.
- Entrepreneurs themselves can play multiple important roles in the build-out of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Using case studies from Endeavor, five important roles are illustrated – mentorship, inspiration, investment, new founders and new employees.
- Government and regulatory policies are viewed by entrepreneurs as both potential growth accelerators and potential growth inhibitors. The report highlights examples of case studies from different geographical regions that reflect both the positive and negative impact economic policies can have on entrepreneurs. In some cases, entrepreneurs believe that government/regulatory policies aimed at supporting economic growth can actually be counterproductive to the growth of their early-stage company.