Economic studies rom around the globe consis-tently link entrepreneurship, particularly the ast-growth variety, with rapid job creation, GDP growth,and long-term productivity increases.You’ll see more palpable evidence o surprisingentrepreneurial success stories on the Costco shelves.A ew steps away rom the Rwandan cofee, you cannd resh sh rom Chile, which now ranks secondonly to Norway as a supplier o salmon. The Chileanish in America’s supermarkets were supplied byhundreds o new shing-related ventures spawnedin the 1980s and 1990s. A ew aisles over are memoryUSBs invented and manuactured in Israel, a countrywhose irrepressible entrepreneurs have been sup-plying innovative technologies to the world sincethe 1970s. And just around the corner, the Costcopharmacy sells generic drugs made by Iceland’s Ac-tavis, whose meteoric rise landed it, in just 10 years,among the top ve global generics leaders.Rwanda, Chile, Israel, and Iceland all are ertileground or entrepreneurship—thanks in no smallpart to the eorts o their governments. Thoughthe companies behind the products on Costco’sshelves were launched by innovative entrepreneurs,those businesses were all aided, either directlyor indirectly, by government leaders who helped build environments that nurture and sustain entre-preneurship. These entrepreneurship ecosystemshave become a kind o holy grail or governmentsaround the world—in both emerging and developedcountries.Unortunately, many governments take a mis-guided approach to building entrepreneurship eco-systems. They pursue some unattainable ideal o an ecosystem and look to economies that are com-pletely unlike theirs or best practices. But increas-ingly, the most efective practices come rom remotecorners o the earth, where resources—as well aslegal rameworks, transparent governance, anddemocratic values—may be scarce. In these placesentrepreneurship has a completely new ace.The new practices are emerging murkily and by trial and error. This messiness should not deterleaders—there’s too much at stake. Governmentsneed to exploit all available experience and com-mit to ongoing experimentation. They must ollowan incomplete and ever-changing set o prescrip-tions and relentlessly review and rene them. Thealternatives—taking decades to devise a model seto guidelines, acting randomly, or doing nothing—all are unacceptable.But the government cannot do everything onits own; the private and nonprot sectors too mustshoulder some responsibility. In numerous in-stances corporate executives, amily-business own-ers, universities, proessional organizations, ounda-tions, labor organizations, nanciers, and, o course,entrepreneurs themselves have initiated and evennanced entrepreneurship education, conerences,research, and policy advocacy. As we shall showlater in this article, sometimes private initiativemakes it easier or governments to act more quicklyand efectively, and all stakeholders—governmentand otherwise—should take every chance to showreal leadership.To make progress, leaders need practical i im-perect maps and navigational guidelines. Fromwhat we know rom both research and practice,here’s what seems to actually work in stimulatingthriving entrepreneurship ecosystems.
As Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame,has put it, “Entrepreneurship is themost sure way of development.”He is not a lone voice: Studiesconsistently link entrepreneurshipwith job creation and GDP growth.
Harvard Business Review
THE BIG IDEA
HOW TO START AN ENTREPRENEURIAL REVOLUTION