by JESSICA WRAY BRADNER

Steering Committee to Guide Startup Nations Ministerial

The Global Entrepreneurship Network and five government authorities responsible for growth entrepreneurship policy in their nations have formed a steering committee responsible for defining the intellectual framework of the Startup Nations Ministerial to be held next April in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Steering Committee will drive the Ministerial, which convenes as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress and guides the overall agenda of the Startup Nations network of policymakers and their advisors. During the initial meeting, held recently at the Startup Nations Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, committee members began to discuss topics and potential outputs for the ministerial.

The group will help lead GEN’s year-round effort to empower policymakers with information and resources to develop smarter policy instruments to increase the rate of new firm formation in economies around the world.. The committee is building upon the experience from three pilot ministerials held in Milan (2015), Medellin (2016) and Johannesburg (2017) in partnership with the United States Government and the activities of more than 70 member nations working on entrepreneurship and innovation policy work.

The Steering Committee consists of:

  • Dr. Ghassan Alsulaiman, Governor of Small and Medium Enterprises Authority, Saudi Arabia
  • Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy & Society, Kingdom of Thailand
  • Mariano Mayer, Secretary of Entrepreneurs and SMEs, Argentina
  • Jonathan Ortmans, President, Global Entrepreneurship Network
  • Kristin Schreiber, Director, EU Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises & SMEs (COSME), European Union
  • Lindiwe Zulu, Minister of Small Business Development, South Africa

“While government work helping existing SMEs is equally important, having an impact on ensuring more new firms start, scale and exit requires a different mindset, pace, toolbox and strategy within any government,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “Ministers value knowing their international counterparts when grappling with new policy issues, and the Startup Nations Ministerial offers that platform.”

The planning meeting in Estonia, focusing its agenda to policies that remove barriers for new and young firms, began with a presentation from Ganesh Rasagam, practice manager for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship team with World Bank Group’s Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice. The presentation focused on the World Bank’s World Bank’s High-Growth Entrepreneurship Flagship Study and recent findings, which drove the focus for the meeting. The World Bank will be serving as the main knowledge partner of the Minsterial.

Dr. Pichet Durongkaveroj, Minister of Digital Economy and Society of Thailand, said the World Bank study identifies metrics that all policymakers should be aware of in order to seek effective programs and policy solutions.

“In Thailand, we have a problem in that most of the private sector will look into the tail-end of startups, for good reasons — they want to make quick profits, and then we have to pull them back, so at least they will be at the middle path,” said Durongkaveroj.

He said they have experimented with one scheme – a public-private committee establishment. He said the ministry set up about a dozen committees, which are government-created but spearheaded by the private sector.

“It’s highly effective – it’s an attempt where government tries not to do too much – to let the private-sector lead, but let the government facilitate.”

Another discussion topic broached by the committee is the role government does – and should – play in providing technical support for entrepreneurs. But that discussion also turned to how government plays a role in supporting economic development across all levels of government – not just at the federal level, but within the city and provincial levels of government as well.

Mariano Mayer, Secretary of Entrepreneurs and SMEs in Argentina, said that is one problem they face in his country – entrepreneurship support may take form one way in Buenos Aires, but it may look very different to communities outside the city. He said it has become increasingly important to understand those differences, and work to find solutions at both a federal and local level.

“[It’s important to] strike a balance,” said Durongkaveroj. “Key one for public-private initiatives – for us we try not to do too much, or do too little. It’s very, very difficult.”

“When we started [supporting entrepreneurship] in Argentina. We were 10 years … behind other countries. We tried to make a leap-frog, trying to learn from the good and the bad. We still have a lot to learn,” said Mayer. “It’s one thing to work with Buenos Aires city, but another thing with the rest of the country. It’s very big, and that relation between the different governments, at the state level and at the city level, it is very, very important. But the governance of that it’s not easy.”

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