Based on multiple statistics and metrics, the United States has an extremely healthy entrepreneurial landscape. According to a report published by the Global Entrepreneurship Market last year, 27 million Americans are “starting or running new businesses.” That number reflects a record high, and it displays how the idea of launching a successful startup has become the modern realisation of the American dream.
However, things still aren’t necessary idyllic for the average entrepreneur. According to Forbes, nine out of 10 startup ventures will fail despite the relatively fertile entrepreneurial ground that the United States provides. In other countries-particularly in developing nations with emerging business markets – the struggle is even more pronounced.
That struggle was a major topic of conversation at the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley. It was also the core topic of a thought-provoking article called “Here’s what’s needed to accelerate global entrepreneurship” written by Catherine Cheney and published by Devex.
In the article, Cheney outlined some of the major barriers to entry that foreign entrepreneurs from developing markets tend to face. These companies often fail because they don’t have access to startup capital. Even with capital, they may fail because they can’t access the necessary human capital – the supporting talent – that they need to realise their ideas and aspirations.
American entrepreneurs – even if they have only a 10% success rate – are privileged to have access to investors, mentors, and employers (from lawyers to sales staff) who can help bring their ideas to fruition. Entrepreneurs in Asia or Africa often don’t have access to the same privileges. This disparity has a range of negative impacts, from preventing a truly global entrepreneurship economy to keeping potentially world-changing innovations stuck in the idea stage. The question is, how can we break down these barriers and create better opportunities for startups in developing countries?
Cheney’s article provides a range of solutions, including creating ways for foreign startups to access “early stage capital”; providing opportunities for entrepreneurs in developing markets to meet high-powered investors; showing investors that the entrepreneurial scene extends outside of Silicon Valley and beyond the borders of the United States; and removing obstacles for startups at the government level.
None of these objectives will be accomplished overnight. Some can be accelerated by independent ventures and nonprofit organisations. In part, that’s already happening, as Cheney discussed in her article. An example is the “Geeks on a Plane” initiative, which will take executive and investors to Africa next March.
It’s ultimately awareness that will make a difference here. The Global Entrepreneurship Summit has done a terrific job over the years of pushing for a worldwide entrepreneurship economy. Each year, the summit helps to remind U.S.-based investors and startups how lucky they are to have the resources to realise their dreams and how many other entrepreneurs around the world could use a helping hand.