If in Portugal everyone had the same conditions to be entrepreneurs, the country would have over 280 thousand people transforming ideas into businesses. The conclusion comes from the OECD, which this Monday published a study on the “Missing Entrepreneurs” in the countries of the European Union and the OECD, where it warns of the potential for growth and innovation that is being wasted.
“Not everyone has the same opportunities to turn their ideas into a business”, stresses the OECD. “There could be nine million more people starting and managing new businesses in the European Union – and 35 million in OECD countries – if they were all as active in business start-up as men of middle age (aged 30 to 49) “, conclude the investigators.
The conclusion results from the fact that it was verified that there are population groups under-represented among entrepreneurs. The gap is particularly evident among women, but there are also gaps across age groups.
For Portugal, the report concludes that 85% of the “missing entrepreneurs” are women and 60% are over 50 years old. At the OECD level, the disadvantage of women and older people is also identified, although it is slightly less glaring: for women the percentage is 75% and for older people it is 50%. However, there is also a disadvantage for younger people that is not detected in Portugal.
“The missed opportunities are due to several factors, including greater difficulties in accessing finance, skills gaps, underdeveloped support networks and institutional barriers”, the document reads, which gives as examples the lack of support networks for the childhood or social discouragement, referring to the phenomenon in general terms.
This inequality, explains the OECD, was increased by the covid-19 pandemic: “The propensity to reduce working hours or close businesses was greater among entrepreneurs from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups”, they point out.
To combat this phenomenon, an OECD recommends governments to increase funding for startups, especially for people who have greater difficulties in accessing finance in the regular credit market, such as “women, young people and immigrants” , stress the experts. Skills improvement programs are also needed, particularly in financial literacy, digital and business skills – areas where gaps are most evident also among under-represented groups. And finally, aiming for support to be more targeted, and calibrated as needed.
Country has good global conditions
Although the disadvantage of some population groups is evident in Portugal, the country compares well with the European Union average in terms of global conditions for entrepreneurship. According to the study, Portugal is “among the 5 main countries of the European Union in financing small and medium-sized companies, qualifications and entrepreneurship expectations”.
The document also notes a higher incidence of entrepreneurship in Portugal than the European Union average, especially among younger people, and better expectations from entrepreneurs.
This comparative advantage in global terms is due “above all to the simplification of administrative and licensing procedures of the last decade”, the experts point out. More: Portugal already has programs aimed at supporting young entrepreneurship and some support that is also specific for an immigrant population.