Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07

Steve Jobs, Co-Founder of Apple, Inc. – Image via Wikipedia

The International Entrepreneur – Entrepreneurship as a Career Choice around the World

The passing of American entrepreneur, Steve Jobs got me thinking about entrepreneurship as a career around the world. What are the perceived opportunities versus perceived capabilities? Do different cultures view entrepreneurship as a good career choice? What percentage of the population has intentions to become entrepreneurs? For answers to these & other questions, I turn to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report.

Perceived Opportunities vs. Perceived Capabilities

You would think that wealthier countries would have citizens who see more financial entrepreneurial opportunities. Actually, the opposite seems to be true. In countries like Uganda and Ghana, GEM found that 80.5% and 75.7% of citizens perceived entrepreneurial opportunities. This is in sharp contrast to more developed countries like Japan, the UK and US, where rates were 5.9%, 29.2% and 34.8% respectively. In ranking their perceived abilities to start an entrepreneurial company, Africans, Asians and South Americans tended to rank their abilities much higher than in developed countries in Europe, North American and especially Japan. This is an interesting paradox since most academic programs for entrepreneurship are based in countries where perceived abilities are still proportionately low. This begs the question: is entrepreneurial education and training seen as beneficial? But that’s an entirely different blog post topic…

Entrepreneurship as a Career Choice

Culture definitely plays a part in entrepreneurial business creation rates. GEM surveyed people about their fear of failure, their perception of entrepreneurship as a career choice and the perception of status given to successful entrepreneurs. The results were interesting, to say the least. In Ghana, only 10.4% survey participants felt they had a strong Fear of Failure. Not surprisingly, 91.1% of surveyed Ghanaians thought that entrepreneurship was a good career choice. In contrast, Hungarians surveyed had a 42.4% Fear of Failure and only 55% felt that entrepreneurship was a good career choice. In Japan, only 52% gave a high status to successful entrepreneurs in contrast to Tunisians, where 92.7% of people gave successful entrepreneurs high status.

Who Plans to Start a Business?

One of the most interesting sets of results was to entrepreneurial intentions. Not surprisingly, Sub-Saharan Africans were the most likely to start entrepreneurial ventures. 67.1% of surveyed Zambians and 68.8% of surveyed Ghanaians planned to start companies.  Russians and Saudi Arabians were surprisingly low – 2.6% and 1.0% respectively. Developed countries all had relatively low rates, with the US coming in at 7.7%, UK at 5.1% and Italy at 4.0%. I would venture a guess that in developed countries, there are more opportunities in government, academia and in established corporations that in developing countries. At the same time, developed countries face slower economic growth. Perhaps those of us in developed countries should take a closer look at entrepreneurial opportunities as a way to stimulate growth and reduce unemployment. Just a thought…

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