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Quarta-feira, 12 de Outubro de 2011
PORTUGAL 2020: Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital

 

The notion of Entrepreneurship, as a critical cross-sectional competence to human, social and economic development has been recognised with greater depth as demonstrated by the following statements:

  • “Entrepreneurship is a silent revolution that will be of greater importance to the 21st century than the industrial revolution was for the 20th century” (Timmons) and
  • “Entrepreneurship is a powerful tool to help people reaching the economic success at the same time they take control of their own lives” (Chris Curtis).

 

In the European Commission Summit that took place in Barcelona, at March 8th and 9th, the working group about key competences to the 21st century, introduced the concept of key competences to lifelong learning as one of the best ways to prepare young people to the competences demanded by the labour market in a timeframe between nowadays and the year 2020.

 

Among the eight main competences identified, we evidence the related to structural knowledge, such as maths, mother language and English, for example, but also Entrepreneurship through the involvement of teachers and resourcing to innovative methodologies, based in the learning by doing concept, with a different approach from the traditional learning and adjusted to the new generations profile in constant adjustment and updating.

 

It’s in this perspective that Entrepreneurship Education is inserted allowing a bridge between the educational space and the labour market that will contribute to the great barrier that today still separates the School from the remaining business or not for profit Organizations.

Having in mind this reality GesEntrepreneur – company created by me in January 2006 with the Canadian entrepreneurship guru, professor Chris Curtis – through the trust that has been put down on it by the Regional Governments of Azores and Madeira and by the presidents of 20 municipalities in Portugal mainland, evidencing the municipalities of Cascais, S. João da Madeira and the ones from Terras do Sicó, already contributed to Entrepreneurship training of 30000 young people in basic, secondary and technical education levels in the same manner as 1500 teachers in over 140 schools.

 

After this initial framework of strategic values, such as entrepreneurship, optimism, ethic, trust, risk, innovation and creativity, that should be developed as early as possible, it’s important to reflect where is entrepreneurship taking us?

 

In 5-7 years the young people that are now in the secondary school have some work experience or can even have followed higher education and are now ending their masters degree, some with international experiences as usual through interchange that make Europe smaller.

I trust that these young people, more than the rest that weren’t targeted by the “entrepreneurship virus” during the secondary school, are the ones that easily can trace their own path if there aren’t jobs available. But I also believe that they are the ones that even working for others will know how to be entrepreneurial in the context of a corporation and will take their organisations to a new level of performance.

 

Mostly I believe that the ones that have now the chance to discover what is to be entrepreneur will be the ones that tomorrow will question their surrounding enbironmente and present new solutions for the future.

 

I hope that with my contribution – that would be smaller if it wasn’t supported by local authorities that like me believe that we can shape the future and that make these programs possible – to help shaping Portugal of 2020.

 

 

From Entrepreneurship to Venture Capital

 

 

Even without entrepreneurship programs, most of the generation that is now between 20 and 30 years old had the opportunity in one or other moment, through conferences, books, competitions or from friend’s experiences, to learn the term. Some of them, besides guiding their live with an entrepreneurial attitude, go further and create their own business. They have studied, had a valuable professional experience and launched the dice of their own destiny which allowed them to invest in their dreams. If some bet in more conservative businesses others invest their knowledge in global and scalable businesses based in current trends or in tomorrow’s technology.

 

To these young people I also see a world around them that formats them to give them more conditions to grow in the next decade. If naturally some of these initiatives will not survive for several reasons others will have the most of it in an increasing community of Business Angels – private investors that invest in earlier stages in high growth potential businesses and that are at the moment backed by a Co-investment Fund with 42 million euro that can fund these businesses until the end of June 2013 – that 4 years ago had no expression but at the moment has several critical factors to fulfil the historical lack of national venture capital market.

 

Let’s add to this a more recent phenomenon in all Europe: the business accelerators. In these last two years over 50 incubators/investment mini-funds emerged in Europe – including Portugal that in 2010 had the incubator of the Instituto Pedro Nunes being considered as the best in the world - with distinct formulas but that is based in supporting projects in very early development stages , frequently before Business Angels.

They make available resources to fund creative minds and promising young people to whom is given the chance to risk and dedicate some months of their lives proving “they were right”.

 

We can go further and see the projects that are loaded daily in crowdfunding online platforms, those websites where the access to capital is totally democratized and anonymous investors can invest amounts from 5 euro in projects where these symbolic contributions avoid scraping for bank loans credit – a serious enemy of entrepreneurs these days and not at all targeted to fund ideas and non-asset based expectations.

 

The entrepreneurial ecosystem, notwithstanding its failures and shortages, has discovered in the last years financing alternatives inexistent until now. Let’s go back 10 years and besides bank credit and some specific fund of the European Union, there were few possibilities to these entrepreneurs as venture capital was only investing bigger amounts and Business Angels although existent since 2000, year which I initiated the first Portuguese Business Angels Club, still didn’t have the conditions to invest according to the international best practices in force in the United Kingdom and France and mostly in the USA.

 

New conditions have been made available to entrepreneurs – from Finicia Platforms supported by micro-venture capital, until micro-credit passing through Entrepreneurs Clubs in some Secondary Schools to International Business Plans and launching Corporate Funds such as Critical Software that since last July has 7 million euro to invest in new start-ups – and the impact of this new reality will only be perceived by 2020.

 

By that time we will look behind and see some future case studies that have gone through the upmentioned paths and micro and small companies growing because they have a structure around them that provided a resourceful ground to grow.

 

The support structure certainly doesn’t stay at the early stages of development. It is important to feed the company growth with reinforced Venture Capital Funds suited to the companies’ needs, provide exit strategies to investors and additional funding options to the next financing rounds.

 

The initial bet in venture capital is a growth vector well identified by the European Union to the 2020 Europe and targets the need of having an “efficient venture capital European market” with “suited incentives to private funds that give financing to start-ups and innovative SME”.

There is always more to be done by the market but I trust that this new generation of entrepreneurs, in the same manner as the ones that are still today in the secondary School and that later will join the group, can access to venture capital resources long asked for and plant now the future Googles and Facebooks that will make us proud tomorrow.

 

I recognize that the current framework of economic and financial crisis can discourage some entrepreneurs but we should also recognize that it can, at the same time, be a motivation source to others that, even disappointed by the lack of options, believe this is the moment to step in the sense of a different future.

 

Unfortunately, the current Government Program, in the text referring to education – inserted in Point VI – the Future Challenge – does not mention the word entrepreneurship in the levels of Pre-School, Basic, Secondary Education, featuring only once in the area of Higher Education and Science, I want to believe that the recently created Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Competitiveness Secretary of State will incentivate a cross-sectional work with all the Ministries and public policies to support entrepreneurship incentivating the national economic base and attracting foreign direct investment that allows to balance the trade deficit and create new job opportunities.


We all have our role in this future and I’m certain that in 2020 we will see that it was worth it. I only hope it will not be necessary to reach “the future” to see what we should have done.



publicado por Francisco Banha às 11:35
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