Earlier this year, the city of Medellin was the venue of the Global Entrepreneurship Conference, co-hosted by the most prominent experts on entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship support around the world. The main topics of the conference included the power of data in entrepreneurship policy, new trends in the availability of early stage capital, education programs, and the role of entrepreneurship in post-conflict economies.
As a group of entrepreneurship researchers, Endeavor Insight was, of course, represented at the GEC conference. Here is a recap of some of the most interesting research published in the Innovations Journal, in a special edition for the conference.
Iqbal Z. Quadir:
Inclusive Prosperity in Low-Income Countries:
Efforts Made at the Legatum Center of MIT
This paper tells the story of MIT’s Legatum Center, an entrepreneurship training program that exposes aspiring entrepreneurs at MIT to the conditions in developing countries. It is a program created with the belief that business opportunities geared at lower-income segments of the world population have the potential to create spectacular innovation and have a potential to decrease income inequality. Even better, if the products are tools that increase productivity (such as cellphones or cell phone credits), they also give people more purchasing power and contribute to economic growth.
The authors conclude that the Legatum Center has great potential to strengthen talent and innovation in low-income countries, and to “bring the realities of low-income countries to MIT’s doorstep,” a similarly valuable and innovative contribution to entrepreneurship education. To learn more about the program, please visit http://legatum.mit.edu/, or read the full report here.
Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa
Malik Fal takes a closer look at the obstacles in the way of aspiring entrepreneurs in Africa, the continent that is home to most of the world’s low-income population. Some of the most powerful findings of this research from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania are:
- Self-finance and family loans are by far the main source of funding for African entrepreneurs.
- The cost of accessing both equity and debt capital is prohibitive.
- Human capital is scarce: schools lack in innovation, and tend to offer theoretical training more useful for corporate employees than aspiring entrepreneurs.
- The poor state of infrastructure in Africa is a substantial obstacle to growth, and it adversely affects market access and costs. The biggest infrastructure challenge is electrical power, both in terms of reliability and availability.
- Africa lacks widely capable business support, and large government support programs have proven inefficient, because one size does not fit all, and because government personnel are ill-equipped to provide capable assistance to entrepreneurs.
To learn more, please read the full report here.
The last piece of research makes Team Endeavor Insight especially proud, because some of the research summarized below originated from a very productive collaboration between the authors of the paper and the authors of this blog.
Victor Mulas, Michael Minges, and Hallie Applebaum:
Boosting Tech Innovation in Cities: A Framework for Growth and Sustainability of Urban Tech Ecosystems
Cities are increasingly becoming the new centers of technological innovation globally as entrepreneurship activity is moving from industrial parks in the suburbs to city centers, which are more dense and, as a result, more efficient in resource allocation, in terms of infrastructure, human capital, and networking opportunities, to name a few important factors. For policymakers and other stakeholders, the authors note that:
- Tech innovation ecosystems in cities need to be understood as a community or combination of communities.
- The focus of policies should be to support these communities and not the geographic area of the city in particular.
In terms of next steps for entrepreneurship research, they believe it is key that experts understand how:
- Technology innovation ecosystems impact employment and economic growth, and
- The ways in which local governments can support the growth and sustainability of tech ecosystems in cities.
To learn more about harnessing tech ecosystems in cities, read the full report here.
Contributed by Lili Torok.