Entrepreneurship for Development

Entrepreneurship is quite popular in the west. It offers students, young people in general, an opportunity to start for themselves, be their own boss, do something creative, and change the world by means of small initiatives. Entrepreneurship is also increasingly getting more attention in developing countries. The reason is slightly different: there are simply no jobs. Then you better try something by yourself. Donors and non-governmental organizations also support this movement. People do want to support new initiatives from below, so that people have an income, but a project that starts by charity should preferably end in a sustainable way. That means that it must be able to sustain itself. So there must be a revenue model.

There are many beautiful initiatives and examples of entrepreneurship in developing countries. A number of them are highlighted on this website. Of course, there are also many problems and obstacles. It is therefore very important not to replicate naive entrepreneurial models from the West in developing countries. It is better to take into account some problems that can be expected from the outset. These must also be solved in a successful business model.

These problems first of all arise at the level of the individual company. If a company is run in quite an authoritarian way, and if adaptation to the group is a condition of survival, employees will not develop the capacity to make their own judgment and come up with new ideas. Add to this the lack of planning and the importance of status and loyalty towards the top instead of achievement and results, then it is easy to imagine the problems that a company must overcome. That is the case because such a business culture does not lead to high productivity. It can be done differently, but entrepreneurs must consciously put it on the agenda. They must have a strategy for it.

Cooperation between companies and with government agencies and between companies, and with customers and suppliers is often also a problem. Society is often compartmentalized: if you do not belong to the right vertical network with important people at the top who can help you further, there are all kinds of obstacles on your way. A company must therefore also have a strategy for this.

After all, the surrounding society should preferably have well-functioning government institutions. People in important positions often have privileges, so that the government does not create a level playing field for competition. This can cause problems in obtaining permission for imports, licenses and the like. If there is no contract enforcement, nor enforcement agencies, or if they can be bribed, this will create additional problems. And so on. Entrepreneurship is therefore important but also interwoven with the rest of society.

If a company consciously works on team building, professionalism, quality, an individual company can also be an important change agent. In rich countries as well as in developing countries, small businesses are the way forward with inspired leadership and good team spirit. In developing countries they surmount the compartmentalization of society. In rich countries they break through individualisation and fragmentation: the feeling of being a cog in a big machine. In that sense, entrepreneurship is much more than just making a living. When people earn a living together, that creates bonds.