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Global Board Member Fadi Ghandour Discusses Barriers to Scale for MENA Entrepreneurs

dubaiThis post comes from Fadi Ghandour, who is the founder of Aramex, a board member of Endeavor, and the Chairman of Wamda, an organization that works to empower entrepreneurs in the MENA region. View the original post on the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Insights page.

“Two-thirds of the Arab World ‘s population is below the age of 29. The region is not only growing younger, but also becoming more literate. With rising levels of education, connectivity, and mobility, the biggest challenge remains: How do we create good jobs for the restless millions?

Entrepreneurs are drivers of growth, innovation, and competitiveness. A recent World Bank report on small and medium sized companies (SMEs) shows that the highest contributors to employment are firms with less than 100 employees. And, not surprisingly, it is scalable businesses that generate the biggest share of economic opportunities. A study conducted by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Stanford University and Endeavor in 2011 reveals that the top 5% of the 380,000 companies surveyed across 10 European and Asian countries have generated 72% of total revenue and 67% of the total employment recorded by these companies.

And yet, although scalability is critical for job creation, company founders still encounter many barriers when starting and growing their businesses. For startups to thrive, the different ecosystem players must understand the nature and source of these obstacles and work hard to eliminate them. But without comprehensive, up-to-date data they will not be able to craft viable, practical solutions.

Wamda’s newest initiative, the Wamda Research Lab (WRL), is focused on publishing research and insights on regional entrepreneurial activity to inform policy makers, investors, and other stakeholders on the critical challenges and gaps in this space. In its first report, The Next Step: Breaking barriers to scale for MENA entrepreneurs, WRL identifies the hurdles company founders face in generating revenues, raising capital, attracting talent, building teams, and facilitating expansion. Our study reveals that 63% of entrepreneurs and 60% of experts consider finding talent to build teams as a major challenge. Access to new markets is yet another central issue: 47% of entrepreneurs and 50% of experts cited difficulty in finding partners to facilitate expansion as an impediment to scale. Moreover, 41% of entrepreneurs said that the biggest restraint to generating revenues is marketing products and services.

The fact remains that the region’s outdated education systems, which continue to graduate generations of unemployable youth with no competitive 21st century skills, and its fragmented markets that allow little mobility of people and companies, are stifling the growth of entrepreneurs, and innovators. Unemployment needs to be considered in every policy, national strategy, private-sector initiative, and social activity. It is time we collectively deploy our knowledge, resources, capital, and networks to enable entrepreneurship as a development tool. I encourage all stakeholders – governments, investors, entrepreneurship institutions, universities, civil society, large corporations, and entrepreneurs – to read this report and take its conclusions seriously, in the hope that they will trigger effective action and positive change.

Finally, I would like to thank Endeavor Insight for their guidance, support, and expertise throughout the entirety of this project.”

Endeavor Research Featured in Top Outlets Including The Atlantic, Inc. Magazine and The New York Times

IncNYTAtlanticRecent research released by the Endeavor network was featured in top news publications including The Atlantic, Inc. Magazine and The New York Times, highlighting a growing public interest in global entrepreneurship and the efforts of high-impact entrepreneurs.

Inc. Magazine, The Atlantic and The Atlantic Cities profiled Endeavor Insight’s findings on what entrepreneurs look for in a city and the qualities that prove most attractive to founders. Read a recap of the articles by clicking here.

In addition, research from Endeavor Greece on the country’s entrepreneurship and investment opportunities was mentioned in a piece in The New York Times and spotlighted in a BloombergTV interview with Endeavor Greece Managing Director Haris Makryniotis. Read about the research and view the interview by clicking here.

Endeavor Insight Report on What Entrepreneurs Want in a City Featured in Inc. Magazine and The Atlantic

Inc-Magazine-LogoA report by Endeavor Insight released in February examines the top qualities that American entrepreneurs look for when choosing a city to live and work. With research based on surveys and interviews with 150 founders of some of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., the report offers some important takeaways for policymakers and continues to receive media coverage in notable outlets like The Atlantic, The Atlantic Cities and Inc. Magazine.

James Fallows cited the report in an article for The Atlantic, arguing that national policy – including tax rates and regulatory breaks – usually has little to do with where businesses and populations eventually settle and grow. Rather, the quality of life and attractiveness of a locale takes priority for most high-impact entrepreneurs, as Endeavor’s research reveals. Similarly, Richard Florida highlighted the report’s key findings in a piece for The Atlantic Cities, noting the importance of factors like talent and customer access, quality of life and urban infrastructure to entrepreneurs’ decisions. Picking up on Florida’s observations, Inc. Magazine’s Ilan Mochari spotlighted the research and the importance of looking beyond the “startup” phase at the crucial point of “scaleup”, when small enterprises  have the largest potential for high-impact growth – the key focus of the Endeavor model.

To read the full articles from each publication, click the links above. To view the full Endeavor Insight report click here, and also see an infographic summary of the findings below.

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Endeavor Insight Report Spotlights Growing Entrepreneurship in Bogotá’s Tech Sector

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Bogotá’s tech entrepreneurs have built over 100 companies and created thousands of jobs over the past two decades, according to a recent study by Endeavor Insight. With the support of Endeavor Colombia and the Omidyar Network, the research team interviewed over 200 tech entrepreneurs from more than 230 Bogotá tech companies and found that through inspiring, mentoring, and investing in one another, Bogotá’s tech entrepreneurs have underpinned the sector’s recent success. This study builds on Insight’s work identifying how entrepreneurship ecosystems develop and the central role entrepreneurs play in supporting one another and multiplying their collective impact.

In Bogotá, the study revealed over 300 personal and professional relationships among local tech entrepreneurs. Classified as one of five types – inspiration, mentorship, former employment, investment, or serial entrepreneurship – these connections allow Bogotá’s tech founders to invest their knowledge and resources into the next generation of entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs featured on the study’s map have at least one connection to another entrepreneur in the broader Bogotá tech network, demonstrating that the city’s entrepreneurs are not only focused on building their own ventures, but also on multiplying their impact by supporting fellow and future generations of entrepreneurs.

As Colombia’s economy continues to emerge, Bogotá’s tech sector will not only drive job and economic growth, but also position the region to compete on a global scale. Alex Torrenegra and Tania Zapata, founders of Bunny Inc. and Endeavor Entrepreneurs, are models of the high-impact entrepreneurship that is integral to the continued growth of the sector and Bogotá’s economy. With over 20 direct connections to other Bogotá tech companies, Alex and Tania have created a platform that younger entrepreneurs have used to launch their own successful ventures. This “Multiplier Effect” is a critical part of Endeavor’s model, and the study demonstrates that a handful of entrepreneurs have the potential to scale-up their businesses, invest in the next generation of entrepreneurs, and transform a sector and the broader economy.

Read coverage of the research in Colombia’s El Espectador and find the full report, including details on all of the key findings and a full visual map of Bogotá’s tech sector, by clicking here for English and here for Spanish.

Endeavor Insight Releases Report Focused on Southeast Asia’s High-Impact Entrepreneurs

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Endeavor Insight, supported by Omidyar Network, released a report studying high-impact entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. Using data from the World Bank Enterprise Survey, Endeavor Insight looked at more than 4,200 companies and found that in a number of Southeast Asian countries, scaleups are creating the majority of new jobs. The report also revealed that scaleups – companies growing at more than 20% per year over the past three years – represent only 14% of total companies but created 77% of net new jobs.

To understand the dynamics that allow these companies to create jobs and value for their economies, Endeavor Insight also interviewed ten of the top Southeast Asian entrepreneurs both in and outside of the Endeavor network. Coming from companies as diverse as a Filipino cut flower business to an Indonesian payments firm, these entrepreneurs share a common drive to succeed and passion for their business and product offerings. The interviews also revealed a number of recurring challenges among the region’s scaleups, including issues of  talent sourcing and access to customers and markets.

Read the full report, including detailed case studies of each entrepreneur interviewed, by clicking here.

Endeavor Insight Report Reveals the Top Qualities that Entrepreneurs Look for in a City

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Endeavor Insight, supported by Omidyar Network, recently released a report that addresses the question “What Do the Best Entrepreneurs Want In A City?” With research culled from surveys and interviews with 150 founders of some of the fastest growing companies in the U.S., the report offers some important takeaways for urban leaders. Studies show that entrepreneurs often look to large cities rather than less urban areas to start their ventures and tend to stay put as their firms grow, with a majority of the founders surveyed living in metropolitan regions with populations of over one million. With this in mind, Endeavor Insight set out to explore the key elements of cities that allow them to attract and retain high-impact businesses, and the steps that leaders and policymakers can take to equip their cities for entrepreneurial growth.

The research uncovered a few key lessons on what makes certain cities more attractive than others. While a strong quality of life, talent pool and customer base were the most cited considerations, there was also a surprising lack of mention of business-friendly regulation as a factor. City leaders who dedicate resources to fostering these identifiable characteristics have the highest potential of drawing the types of innovative entrepreneurs, companies and jobs that can transform their local economies.

Read the full report, including more detailed explanations of each lesson and a list of the top keywords mentioned, by clicking here. The report was also featured in the The Atlantic Cities, The Atlantic and the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

Endeavor Insight Releases “City Hubs for Entrepreneurship” Report on Miami

endeavor_insightEndeavor Insight, with support from the Knight Foundation, recently released the first publication in its “City Hubs for Entrepreneurship Series”, explaining the results of an analysis on the opportunities and obstacles to Miami’s growing entrepreneurship ecosystem. The analysis was based on data collected from more than 100 early-stage and growth-stage companies, as well as interviews and focus groups with entrepreneurs, investors and policymakers. The report found a clear and demonstrable need for Endeavor’s work in the region where entrepreneurship is quickly on the rise but still facing many critical challenges. As Endeavor’s first U.S. affiliate, the Miami office was established in September 2013 with support from the Knight Foundation and a managing board composed of some of the city’s top investors and business leaders.

In the report, Endeavor found that that the central challenge for local entrepreneurship was that many companies were starting up, but very few were growing to become medium or large firms. A recent report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation demonstrated that Miami had the highest rate of new business formation among the 15 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in 2012. However, since 2000, the number of large businesses in the area has declined by more than 20 percent. Endeavor’s own research found that the city’s entrepreneurial community reported a variety of strengths to working in Miami, including a high quality of life, vibrant culture, and an accessible customer base. The challenges to scalable growth however, including a lack of expert talent, mentorship and opportunities for capital, are where Endeavor’s work looks to add the most value. The success of the Miami affiliate thus far has led to the selection of its first entrepreneurs, Roger Duarte and Sam Gorenstein of My Ceviche and Jesus Rodriguez of KidoZen, at the 51st International Selection Panel in Dubai.

Read more coverage on the Miami report from the Knight Foundation by clicking here and also in the Miami Herald by clicking here.


 

El Economista and Forbes Mexico Profile “The 6-30 Report” by Endeavor Insight

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El Economista and Forbes Mexico, two of Mexico’s top finance and business news outlets, recently featured Endeavor Insight’s “The 6-30 Report“, which highlights the contributions of scaleup companies to the nation’s economy. Part of a series from Endeavor Insight focused on scaleup ecosystems worldwide, the first two reports examine Indonesia and Colombia and spotlight the importance of supporting businesses in this crucial high-growth stage.

Scaleup companies, defined as companies more than three years old with a minimum of 20% average annual employment growth, are becoming a critical component of economic and social development in Mexico and throughout Latin America. The report found that these businesses represent just 6% of the country’s total number of firms but created 30% of net new jobs over the past three years. For a market  like Mexico, with an estimated workforce growth of more than 7.9 million people by 2020, the demand for new jobs for young adults has never been higher. A reported 900,000 Mexicans between the ages of 15 and 24 are currently unemployed. This is the point where companies in the scaleup stage, with the right support network behind them, can contribute the most in terms of job creation, human capital and economic development.

Media coverage of research like “The 6-30 Report” makes it evident that the business community in Mexico and beyond is beginning to recognize the importance of scaleups in driving innovation and job creation in emerging economies. A survey of over 900 entrepreneurial leaders from around the world found that, in order for these companies to see continued success, steady access to global markets, talent, funding and support systems is critical. As Endeavor continues to study and promote these types of ecosystems worldwide, increased awareness among business leaders, investors and policymakers could help ensure that future entrepreneurs have the resources they need to make the biggest impact.

Read the full El Economista article in Spanish by clicking here and the full Forbes Mexico article in Spanish by clicking here. Read “The 6-30 Report” below:

Endeavor Insight Releases “The 6-30 Report”, Spotlighting Scaleup Companies in Mexico

small__2061513637Endeavor Insight recently released “The 6-30 Report” with support from Omidyar Network, highlighting the contributions of scaleup companies towards job creation and economic growth in the country of Mexico. This is the third in a series of reports from Endeavor Insight that will focus on scaleup ecosystems worldwide and their significance in transforming emerging markets. The first two reports in the series focused on economies in Indonesia and Colombia.

Scaleup companies, defined as companies more than three years old with a minimum of 20% average annual employment growth, are becoming a critical component of economic and social development in Mexico and throughout the region. The report found that these businesses represent just 6% of the country’s total number of firms but created 30% of net new jobs over the past three years. For a market and economy like Mexico, with an estimated workforce growth of more than 7.9 million people by 2020, the demand for new jobs for young adults has never been higher. A reported 900,000 Mexicans between the ages of 15 and 24 are currently unemployed.

As a result, scaleup companies are critical to curating an environment for continued growth, addressing the challenge of unemployment by driving innovation, strengthening value chains, and paving the way for long-term economic expansion. As the largest job creators in the country, scaleups need access to the sort of services Endeavor works to provide, scaling  the right mix of talent, funding and networks to accelerate high-impact entrepreneurship that can transform a nation.

To read the full report and learn the methodology for these insights, click here.

 

Endeavor Insight Releases “The 8-45 Report” Focused on Scaleup Companies in Colombia

BogotaEndeavor Insight has released “The 8-45 Report” with support from Omidyar Network, spotlighting the contributions of scaleup companies towards economic growth in the country of Colombia. This is the second in a series of reports from Endeavor Insight that will focus on scaleup ecosystems worldwide and their significance in transforming emerging markets. The first report in the series focused on the Indonesian economy, and is available here.

Scaleup companies, defined as companies more than three years old with a minimum of 20% average annual employment growth, are becoming a critical component of job creation and development in Colombia. The report found that these businesses represent just 8% of Colombia’s total number of firms but created 45% of net new jobs in the past three years. This is particularly significant for Colombia, which has a projected workforce growth of one million people by 2020, but currently has more than 1.1 million unemployed young adults between the ages of 14 and 28.

As the demand for new jobs continues to climb, scaleup companies are helping to foster an environment for steady growth, addressing the challenge of unemployment by driving innovation, strengthening value chains, and paving the way for long-term expansion. As the largest job creators within Colombia, scaleups need access to the sort of services Endeavor works to provide, scaling  the right mix of talent, funding and networks to accelerate high-impact entrepreneurship that can transform the region.

To read the full report and learn the methodology for these insights, click here.

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