How to foster the European entrepreneurial spirit?

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Students celebrate graduation in Bonn

How to foster the European entrepreneurial spirit?


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This article is part of Amway’s ‘Driving Entrepreneurship in Europe’ Knowledge Network

 

Entrepreneurship is a driver of society since it promotes innovation, creates jobs and launches economic growth. However, in comparison to other regions, Europe is ranking lowest in providing a positive entrepreneurship environment.

On the occasion of the launch of its 6th Global Entrepreneurship Report (AGER), Amway (a multi-level marketing company) organised an event at the European Parliament sponsored by Marlene Mizzi MEP part of the Socialists & Democrats Alliance, where several entrepreneurs, chamber of commerce members and policy makers stressed the necessity to promote entrepreneurship.

The AGER established an index to measure the entrepreneurial spirit all over the world. Understanding motivations and obstacles people face when starting a business is crucial for companies and governments who want to strengthen entrepreneurship. Therefore, the index explores these motivations, taking into consideration three motivational factors: desirability such as independence or gaining money, stability in the social context, and feasibility linked to the necessary skills and the financial capabilities for instance.

Globally on average, nearly half of the respondents feel they have the desire to start a business (55%), that it is feasible (47%) and that they would not let their social environment dissuade them from their desires (49%). In Europe, countries such as Slovenia, Lithuania and Finland have the highest proportion of respondents who see themselves starting a business. On the country, Germany Poland and Croatia aren’t very keen on being entrepreneurs.

The report found that the faer of failure is one of the main obstacles to entrepreneurship. Respondents in the EU see the financial aspects of entrepreneurship as a remaining hurdle to venturing out. “Financial burdens” (41%) and “threat of the economic crisis” (29%) are the factors feeding these fears most.

Regarding sub-groups, young people have the strongest desire to becoming self-employed and more males feel confident to start a new business in comparison to females.

Commenting on the need to foster entrepreneurship in Europe, Michel Catinat, Head of Unit Clusters, Social Economy and Entrepreneurship Unit, Directorate General  Grow, at the European Commission said:

“Entrepreneurship has to be learned very early in school. At the European Union level we are doing a lot to develop interest in entrepreneurship, as well as enhance the capacity and feasibility to start a business. The project of mini-enterprises in high schools is a perfect example of a successful manner to infuse the entrepreneurial spirit into the youth. Education is the highest investment we can make since 50% of the children who participate in this project will indeed become entrepreneurs.”

Several participants stressed the importance of education as a way to promote entrepreneurship. Universities offering professional experience and mentoring as part of their programme were particularly appreciated as well as courses stimulating the creativity of students.

Moreover, throughout the debate, participants expressed their feeling that policy makers can make a difference. To increase the feasibility for instance, the EU Commission is constantly reducing the administrative burden of enterprises. Funds for small and medium enterprises are made available through the European Investment Bank. Various programmes such as Erasmus Entrepreneurs give new or aspiring young start-ups the chance to learn from founders of successful businesses.

To conclude, The founder of the start-up Cafe.be platform, Bert van Wassenhove, gave some inside in entrepreneurship by saying:

“Those who know why they are starting a business are the most successful because they are really passionate by what they are doing. However, no one is born an entrepreneur, it is something that has to be learned and therefore education is crucial.”

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