This year and pandemic peak have been extremely interesting for entrepreneurs…and for innovators. The entrepreneurial spirit grew exponentially during the pandemic: by necessity and by opportunity. Unemployment and, therefore, the need to “look for it”; the business opportunities that were perceived and taken advantage of; having a lot of time available, which in many cases was used to start some “little businesses” that have remained, in others they have been transformed and in others they have simply disappeared.
Driven by the need to generate income or occupy their time, many people put their imaginations to work, spotted business opportunities, joined other friends, and activated their entrepreneurial gene by starting a business. They used digital marketing strategies and tools: they used WhatsApp groups, Instagram accounts, virtual stores on web pages… to promote and sell their products.
Traditional businesses such as grocery stores also had to use technology and maintained a volume of business generated by orders made through WhatsApp, deliveries by deliveries…accepting transfer payments, credit cards and payment buttons…something they had resisted for many years.
Large and small restaurants, food trucks and cafeterias, which in the first months could not receive customers, devised a format of pick up of the dishes on their menu, just as others devised the sale of semi-processed products to finish them at home. It was necessary to expand and create terraces, create new production processes and personnel…
Just as it has happened with banks, with institutions, with other companies… that in months have released applications, updated web pages, accommodated their processes and offers to the needs of customers. The truth is that COVID-19 has managed in a few months to modify attitudes that are reluctant to change, resistant to innovationcontrary to the wishes of customers and users.
“Being an entrepreneur is not only being able to have your own company and be your own boss. Being an entrepreneur is an attitude of life: having new ideas and putting them into practice”
It is also interesting that the surveys tell us that in this 2021 there was a trend towards more innovative and responsible companies… that people want answers that meet their needs and that they value those companies that show that they are committed to satisfying their customers and related parties.
A few days ago, the Latin American Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Celiem) published in its III Specialized Monitor, data that makes visible the entrepreneurial spirit in Central America and the Dominican Republic, and shows that the lack of promotion related to the entrepreneurial ecosystem is one of the most determining factors that limit the interest of getting to start a business.
For example, 70% of those consulted indicated that entrepreneurship is not promoted in the education system, while 40% say that governments do not do it either. Despite the fact that 98% of those consulted consider themselves an entrepreneur and 75% would like to start a business to be their own boss, the perception prevailed that there are not enough facilities to start a business, which gives the competent actors the opportunity to attend to different improvements.
The study showed that only 29% of easy access to financing for nascent enterprises is projected.
The results of this monitoring are not only relevant in showing the still pending work in our educational systems to promote an entrepreneurial culture that enhances values and attitudes that allow the promotion of new business initiatives and organizations with greater potential for adaptation and growth, but also reaffirms the great gaps and distortions that structurally we have in the countries to facilitate the processes of formalization and operation of nascent enterprises, revealing the concern about the time it takes for entrepreneurs to formalize their company, the procedures and costs that most limit it, as well as the possible benefits that they perceive when they manage to complete their formalization processes.
This past year has also shown us that our people are undertaking… and that we have tremendous potential if we continue to improve in that regard. Going back a few years to review the statistics, according to the 2018 GEM study, we are the most daring and determined of all the GEM countries.
The Dominican entrepreneur is characterized by being perceived as having high entrepreneurial skills (75%, compared to the 50% average of the other countries participating in the study), as well as presenting the least fear of entrepreneurship (12.5%) compared to the other economies ( 36% on average), allowing high entrepreneurial intentions to be generated in the Dominican Republic (53%), above the average of the other countries (24%); likewise, originating an entrepreneurial activity that exceeds that of the other GEM countries (18.2%, compared to 12.6%).
Another interesting fact to keep in mind is that, in the same GEM 2018 measurement, the entrepreneurs Dominicans are located in those with the least fear of failure as an obstacle to starting a business, and in third place, as those with the best knowledge, skills and experience to start a new business. However, the entrepreneurs Dominicans rank 25th in perceiving opportunities in their territory, compared to the other 49 participating countries.
This tells us that we must continue working on the entrepreneur’s sense of opportunity and generating conditions that continue to foster the creation of new companies and the consolidation of existing ones.
The entrepreneurial activity that we have felt in the country, and the results of the aforementioned research, should be taken as an invitation to continue working together, government and private sector, for the development of the Dominican entrepreneurial ecosystem; not only not to lose what has been achieved, but to enhance it:
- We need to increase the level of schooling, aligning educational programs with content on entrepreneurship and innovation at all levels and systems. The educational system has an important role in the formation of skills and abilities among its students, both those that have to do with entrepreneurship and the more general ones associated with digital literacy. This affects the development of skills, for example, to assess the potential and risk associated with a project.
- Generate new and increasingly suitable financial products for our entrepreneurs. The level of family income is a key element that enables both access to education and the generation of personal savings, which, in turn, are the main source of financing for business creation. In general, the income of families in our country is low and it is committed to covering basic needs, making it difficult to make contributions in the initial stages of entrepreneurship. It is essential that entrepreneurs access an appropriate financing offer both to create and grow their enterprises.
- Facilitate the opening of the internal market, multiplying assistance and advisory centers for early-stage companies (such as Mipymes Centers). We must promote mentoring programs, promote training and multiply business incubation and acceleration programs.
- Promote competitiveness, establishing links between new companies and multinationals and large companies, making the innovation a reality. Likewise, fostering linkages with existing medium and large companies can generate high-potential business opportunities that give rise to the birth of ventures that carry them out and is a way for MSMEs to convert from indirect exporters to export companies.
- Keep continuously reviewing the set of laws, rules and regulations that affect entrepreneurial activity, such as the tax system, health permits and other rules that affect the operation of nascent companies. When entrepreneurship flourishes innovationthere are a number of new types of businesses, new activities, new services, which are not covered by current regulations and, on many occasions, these gaps are to blame for castrating new businesses.
- Simplify government bureaucracy. The formalization procedures, service requests, tax reports, etc., must be extremely simple and easy to carry out so that the entrepreneur does not spend a large portion of his time on these tasks instead of dedicating them to his business.
This year 2022, and the years that follow, bring opportunities of all kinds for entrepreneurs… and we Dominicans must decisively take advantage of it.
In the study of the future scenarios of ecosystems in the post-pandemic (Kantis, Fernández and Menéndez, 2021) it is mentioned that six out of 10 experts have said that the acceleration of technological change will open new opportunities for startup and young companies.
Digital transformation and digital companies will continue to be an excellent opportunity to transform the productive structure of the region. In this area, we Dominicans have human talent with great potential and two great challenges: the qualification of the appropriate workforce that has the necessary knowledge and skills, and we must promote the integration of women into the ICT sector.
“You have to be an entrepreneur both in your own company and as an employee”
The opportunities derived from the strategies of innovation of the large companies will be another important opportunity, endorsed by the opinion of 70% of the experts. We must continue promoting the approach of entrepreneurship to large companies. Between 2018 and 2020, the number of large companies collaborating with startup it grew two and a half times, and the perspective is that this trend will increase.
Ventures that present solutions to larger companies, as a result of their small size, flexibility and agility…, and that thus allow them to adopt technology faster (by buying it) than if it were generated by the large company itself.
Entrepreneurship of creative industries, sustainable businesses, and female entrepreneurship. Music, art, gastronomy, fashion, tourism… the creative economy all have tremendous potential in the near future… and the number of synergies that can be created between these sectors is tremendous.
We must bear in mind that being an entrepreneur is not only being able to have your own company and be your own boss. Being an entrepreneur is an attitude of life: having new ideas and putting them into practice. Don’t be afraid to think differently. Respect failure, but don’t be afraid of it. Work in networks to multiply knowledge.
You have to be an entrepreneur both in your own company and as an employee. Public officials and employees must be entrepreneurs. Doctors, artists, journalists… we all have to educate ourselves, dare to dream and pursue dreams making them come true.
The entrepreneurs Dominicans have a characteristic that helps us to be successful… and that is that, due to the weaknesses and inconveniences that we face daily, we know how to “jose it” to get what we want… when we want.
In this 2022, and from now on, we have to want to fill the country with entrepreneurs and innovators… in all spaces: in private companies and in government. At school and hospitals. In the cities, in the fields and on the beach. This is how we will build the country we want.