By Widad Ali A/Rahman
Good news from Sudan: socially, the public perceives entrepreneurship very favorably. According to our research, 79% view entrepreneurship as a desirable career option. In fact, Sudan comes ahead of other countries such as Qatar and the UAE for this metric. Sudan recorded the highest percentage (85%) on the perception that successful entrepreneurs gain high status as a result.
Unfortunately, though, these high societal and individual perceptions are not reflected in the ‘conversion’ to established businesses – just 10% are recorded to move ahead this path. According to our survey, business discontinuation is quite high (17%) for the following main three reasons:
- 23.4% lack of financial resources
- 22.5% say family and personal issues
- 19.8% poor levels of profitability
These are among the key statistics from the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Sudan National Report. GEM is the world’s largest longitudinal study focusing on entrepreneurship practice and activity and this first report on Sudan allows for a comprehensive reflection of the status of entrepreneurship in the country and the overall context within which this important economic activity is undertaken.
GEM reports and analysis are based on data collected using two tools: The Adult Population Survey (APS), a representative sample of the population aged 18–64 in which over 2,000 individuals took part; and The National Experts’ Survey (NES), which is designed to obtain subjective information on the status of nine entrepreneurial framework conditions. For the NES, 37 experts contributed to the study by engaging in a face-to-face interview and elaborate on the open-ended questions.
Using responses provided by the NES, The GEM National Entrepreneurship Context Index (NECI) compare the general entrepreneurial context across participating countries. Disappointingly, Sudan ranked 45th among the 54 countries surveyed. It underscored concerns in Sudan around government assistance and policies, government entrepreneurial programs and entrepreneurship education and training.
Based on these and other findings, key recommendations highlighted in the study are as follows:
- Reform the regulatory environment and reduce bureaucracy in order to make it easier for new businesses to register and operate.
- Reduce costs involved, such as licensing requirements from local municipalities, labor and tax registrations.
- Create women-centered policies, support structures and mentorship to help them successfully engage in entrepreneurial activities and overcome challenges related to stereotypes and a disadvantage status.
- Introduce new supportive funding and investment policies with a focus on provision of seed funding with flexible repayment policies, especially for small and new firms.
- Implement a more supportive tax system, such as tax exemption/reduction to target SMEs and new firms.
- Update and improve physical and technical infrastructure.
- Introduce appropriate educational and training programs that enhance entrepreneurship and apprentice competencies. Educational facilities are needed to improve the education and job skills training that will be needed to develop greater productivity and technology-intensive industries.
For the Private Sector
- Engage in financing entrepreneurs through modalities such as capital ventures to facilitate access to a variety of options and reduce dependency on the rigid banking sector and /or informal investors.
- Avail business consultancy offices and experts’ services.
- Direct investments to agriculture and agro-industries with a focus on expansion of external trade and export production.
- Create a balance of business services and entrepreneurship development over all States.
For Academic and Research Institutions
- Entrepreneurship theoretical and practical curricula should start at least at the secondary school level to equip learners with key business skills and motivate youth to enter this field.
- Academic and research centers should contribute to create a business related database, which is supported by scientific research, on the overall ecosystem, internal and external markets and the different industry sectors.
- A high rate of business discontinuity/failure entails the need to conduct in-depth rigorous scientific research to understand the reasons behind that, and provide data to guide policy regarding the support for business sustainability.
- Support entrepreneurs on R&D, especially for those with limited resources, to help them be competitive and sustain their ventures.
Access the full study at the following link. The study is sponsored by the ENABLE Youth Sudan Program.
Widad Ali A/Rahman (email@example.com) is an associate professor at Ahfad University for Women and project director for GEM Sudan. Her areas of expertise include women’s entrepreneurship, microfinance, migration and gender. In addition to Widad Ali A/Rahman, authors of the full study are Lena ELshiekh Omer Mahgoub, Nuha Hassan Elmubasher Eltayib, Mohammed Alsaeed and Moneera Yassien.