New GEM Research: Entrepreneurs Worldwide Identifying Opportunities; National Expert Assessments Suggest United Arab Emirates Has Most Supportive Entrepreneurship Environment
Dubai – Entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing more business opportunities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Global Report entitled Opportunity Amid Disruption, unveiled today at Expo 2020 Dubai.
In 2021, GEM’s Adult Population Survey (APS) featured at least 2,000 respondents across each of 47 economies. In 15 out of these 47 economies, more than half of those starting or running a new business agreed that the pandemic had led to new business opportunities. In 2020, this had been the case for just nine out of 46 economies.
“Disruption and uncertainty continue in multiple business sectors; but, as most entrepreneurs well know, with disruption comes opportunity,” said Professor José Ernesto Amorós, Interim GEM–GERA Board Chair and a member of the GEM Mexico Team. “It is clear from this year’s research that entrepreneurs have been grasping pandemic-related opportunities and building resilience.”
Another key finding, perhaps pointing to some degree of global economic recovery, is the response from entrepreneurs on their perception of the difficulty of starting a business. In 2021, more than 50% of entrepreneurs agreed that starting a business had become more difficult in 18 of 47 economies. In 2020, almost twice as many (33 out of 46 economies) had 50% or more of their would-be entrepreneurs agreeing that this was the case.
“Living with the pandemic has certainly raised awareness of the business opportunities it brings in its wake," said Professor Stephen Hill, lead author of the Global Report.
The report also shone a spotlight on some of the difficulties impacting entrepreneurship around the world. This includes:
- In 22 of the 47 economies, more than one in two adults agreed their household income had decreased.
- Comparing 2021 to 2019 (pre-pandemic), Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA; GEM’s most well-known indicator, representing the percentage of adults that are starting or running a new business) has typically decreased. This has also been the case for levels of Established Business Ownership (EBO; the percentage of adults aged 18–64 owning or managing a business for more than 42 months).
- In a quarter of the GEM economies, over half of those starting or running a new business expect to employ no one but themselves in five years’ time. This may be indicative of high levels of informal “survival” businesses, created during economic hardship when no other alternatives or social safety nets are available, and when people resort to entrepreneurship as their only fall-back solution.
Implications for Policymakers
It is difficult to make informed decisions without having the right data. GEM fills this void for policymakers. GEM is the only global research source that collects data on entrepreneurship directly from the source — entrepreneurs! Policymakers can take action based on GEM data to help their respective entrepreneurial ecosystems to thrive.
"Reading through the Global Report economy profiles, one country that stands out is the Republic of Korea,” said Dr Aileen Ionescu-Somers, GEM Executive Director. “It is most impressive how this country responded to the pandemic by effectively managing COVID-19 outbreaks, resulting in a sustained high level of entrepreneurial activity throughout the crisis. In addition Spain has continued its impressive balance between different types of entrepreneurs, both male and female as well as older and younger entrepreneurs. Also noteworthy is Chile, whose population has built on a recent tradition of confidence in their ability to start businesses, and managed to recover its high TEA rate. I encourage all policymakers to study the GEM Economy Profiles. Consider the different actions — both positive and negative — and use that as a guide as you look to enable entrepreneurship to flourish in your communities of interest.”
“Consistent with crises throughout history, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis surfaced new opportunities for entrepreneurs around the globe,” added Babson College Professor Jeffrey Shay, one of the report co-authors. “However, despite positive perceptions of the ease of starting a business, self-confidence in their skills and abilities, and other factors, many entrepreneurs were constrained by the fear of failure. Policymakers could allay much of this fear by drawing greater attention to entrepreneurial success stories both large and small and implementing risk-mitigating initiatives that reduce real and perceived impediments for startups.”
United Arab Emirates: The Most Supportive Environment for Entrepreneurship
GEM defines a number of Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions (EFCs), many of which are the direct responsibility of the government in each country. GEM seeks out expert views on the sufficiency or otherwise of each condition by carrying out a National Expert Survey (NES) in each economy. The NES asks the same questions of at least 36 national experts in each economy, and often more, each of whom has an identified high level of expertise in at least one of the framework conditions, which are:
A1. Entrepreneurial Finance - Are there sufficient funds for new startups?
A2. Ease of Access to Entrepreneurial Finance - And are those funds easy to assess?
B1. Government Policy: Support and Relevance - Do they promote and support startups?
B2. Government Policy: Taxes and Bureaucracy - Or are new businesses burdened?
C. Government Entrepreneurial Programs - Are quality support programs available?
D1. Entrepreneurial Education at School - Do schools introduce entrepreneurship ideas?
D2. Entrepreneurial Education Post-School - Do colleges offer courses in starting a business?
E. Research and Development Transfers - Can research be translated into new businesses?
F. Commercial and Professional Infrastructure - Are these sufficient and affordable?
G1. Ease of Entry: Market Dynamics - Are markets free, open and growing?
G2. Ease of Entry: Burdens and Regulation - Do regulations encourage or restrict entry?
H. Physical Infrastructure - Is this sufficient and affordable?
I. Social and Cultural Norms - Does culture encourage and celebrate entrepreneurship?
In 2021, of the 47 GEM-participating economies, national expert assessments scored the United Arab Emirates as having the most supportive environment for entrepreneurship. The UAE has the highest total score by a clear margin, having improved in 11 of the 13 framework conditions since 2020, and scoring highest of all 47 economies in four of them. The United Arab Emirates is the only economy to have scored as sufficient or better for all framework conditions.
The United Arab Emirates’ performance on its governance conditions was the most impressive among its 2021 scores. On the conditions Government Policy: Support and Relevance (7.0) and Government Policy: Taxes and Bureaucracy (7.5) the country had the highest scores among GEM Level A economies. The condition Government Entrepreneurial Programs (6.5) was second highest among this group. All three conditions improved over 2020, representing further progress in the country’s march to generating more impactful entrepreneurship.
The launch of the GEM Global Report took place at the Dubai Exhibition Center on invitation by the UAE Ministry of Economy. Also sponsoring the report are the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Babson College, Cartier’s Women’s Initiative and the School of Management Fribourg. Thematic events focused on women’s entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Download the report.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a consortium of national country teams, primarily associated with top academic institutions, that carries out survey-based research on entrepreneurship around the world. GEM is the only global research source that collects data on entrepreneurship directly from individual entrepreneurs! GEM’s Adult Population Survey (APS) provides analysis on the characteristics, motivations and ambitions of individuals starting businesses, as well as social attitudes towards entrepreneurship. The National Expert Survey (NES) looks at the national context in which individuals start businesses.
In numbers, GEM is:
- 23 years of data
- 3,000,000+ entrepreneur respondents and expert interviews since 1999
- 148,000+ respondents to the 2021 GEM Adult Population Survey
- 2,000+ expert interviews for the 2021 GEM National Expert Survey
- 120+ economies since 1999
- 370+ specialists in entrepreneurship research (GEM National Team members)
- 300+ academic and research institutions
- 200+ funding institutions
- 1,000+ publications in peer reviewed journals
GEM began in 1999 as a joint project between Babson College (USA) and London Business School (UK). The consortium has become the richest resource of information on entrepreneurship, publishing a range of global, national and 'special topic' reports on an annual basis. www.gemconsortium.org
GEM Global Sponsor - Babson College
Babson College prepares and empowers entrepreneurial leaders who create, grow, and steward sustainable economic and social value everywhere. We shape the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge, skills, and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in organizations of all types and sizes. A global leader in entrepreneurship education recognized by U.S. News & World Report, our undergraduate, graduate, executive programs, and partnership opportunities are tailored to the needs of our world.
GEM Report Sponsors
United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy
The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy contributes to achieving the UAE’s vision and strategic directions in terms of supporting innovation and excellence. The Ministry has adopted innovation as a methodology in all areas of its work and made it an integral part of its strategic objectives. The Ministry is keen to provide an incubating and stimulating environment for innovation, and to launch initiatives, strategies and programmes that consolidate and spread the culture of innovation at the national level. The Ministry has included innovation in its corporate vision: “Building a diversified global competitive economy based on knowledge and innovation and led by national competencies”. https://www.moec.gov.ae
Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development
Khalifa Fund was established in June 2007 under Law 14 of 2005, as an independent, Not-for-Profit Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Socio-economic Development Agency of the Government of Abu Dhabi. The purpose of establishing the fund is to help develop local enterprises in Abu Dhabi by instilling and enriching the culture of investment among UAE nationals, as well as supporting and developing small to medium-sized investments in the Emirate. Khalifa Fund started with a total capital of AED 300 million, which was gradually increased to AED 2 billion, covering all the United Arab Emirates.
Cartier Women’s Initiative
The Cartier Women's Initiative is an annual international entrepreneurship program that aims to drive change by empowering women as high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded by Cartier in 2006, the program is open to women-run and women-owned businesses from any country and sector that aim to have a strong and sustainable social and/or environmental impact. www.cartierwomensinitiative.com.
School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR)
HEG-FR is a trilingual public business school located in Fribourg, Switzerland and a member of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HES-SO). Its Institute of Small and Medium Enterprises houses the Swiss chapter of GEM research, which is headed by Professor Rico Baldegger, Ph.D, in collaboration with other colleagues from institutions such as SUPSI Manno in Ticino, Switzerland. More information is at https://www.heg-fr.ch/en/.
Communications Consultant at GEM
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