Topic 4: Entrepreneurial ecosystems and local organizations

What are the consequences of adapting an ecosystem approach to promote entrepreneurship in emerging markets? This topic will be dedicated to discussing latest trends in ecosystem building, the role of local support organizations and explore new ways on how to achieve system impact and change.

Knowledge Gifts

The following Knowledge Gifts will be presented during the Practitioners' Exchange:


Understanding the Ecosystem

In order to identify gaps and opportunities, which affect successful entrepreneurial activities, the ability to analyze, visualize and empathize with the ecosystem is a prerequisite to design efficient and sustainable interventions. This includes not only looking at explicit conditions such as policy framework, support structures and actors but seeking to truly understand less explicit conditions such as quality of relationships or formal and informal power dynamics within the system. We are looking for new innovative methodologies which provide us with a more holistic understanding of entrepreneurial ecosystem to help us to design better and more effective projects.

Strengthening local institutions

In order to gain sustainable effort it is necessary to strengthen and focus on local institutions. The support possibilities for intermediary institutions are influenced by the framework conditions. That’s why the role of the national and local government role is important. The question is: what are the basics to create a conducive ecosystem?  We are looking for new ways how local structures can be supported in a joint approach with development organisations.

Developing Pipelines

There is a lot of attention on investing in “investment-ready” entrepreneurs. Growing the pipeline by creating a culture of entrepreneurship or supporting early stage entrepreneurs however is often seen as “unsexy” and hence underserved. We are looking for good examples on how to build and grow entrepreneurial talent and strategic approaches on how to strengthen the pipeline of investable entrepreneurs.

Trust Building

Successful ecosystems are collaborative. They grow and strengthen through the continual interaction of all stakeholders toward a common end. However, in early stage ecosystems, there is often a lack of trust which inhibits collaboration. We are looking for innovative approaches how a culture of collaboration, cooperation, and trust can be fostered.

Diaspora Engagement

Diasporas are in a unique position to have a positive effect on the economy of their country of origin by investing in their home countries through direct and portfolio investments, or through the establishment of new ventures. Yet, many developing countries have had only limited success in attracting them. We are looking for cases that focus on mobilizing diaspora networks to drive and support entrepreneurship in their countries of origin.

Rural ecosystem building

Most of the attention in entrepreneurial ecosystem building is on cities while rural areas remain underserved. We are looking for examples on how to build rural innovation ecosystems.

Topic Hosts

Bejamin Meier - Swisscontact

Benjamin Meier is leading the Credit Suisse – Swisscontact Program (CSSC). Together, the two organisations want to identify best practice approaches to the promotion of entrepreneurship and ecosystem building and to share the insights with the global community. It’s their strong believe that only through non-competitive collaboration and partnership, we can catalyse the industries’ efforts for meaningful change. His focus is on using Social Network Analysis to better understand entrepreneurial ecosystems (follow my blog).

Prior to the CSSC project he was working for Swisscontact in Guatemala developing a lean startup program to promote entrepreneurship among vulnerable youth. Before joining Swisscontact, he was working as a Strategy Consultant. Besides, he has started his own business – fairly produced, custom made shoes from Guatemala – which unfortunately did not survive the first 3 years but thought him valuable lessons to make it better next time.

Mirjam Wenger - Swisscontact

Mirjam Wenger supports Swisscontact’s business development and key account management in the UK markets. She plays an active role in Swisscontact’s Entrepreneurship working group and believes that entrepreneurial, sustainable and inclusive economies are key to job creation, prosperity, and poverty reduction. She is passionate about Swisscontact’s facilitative approach to entrepreneurship promotion and SME development: bring (local) players together and build communities based on trust, collaboration and cooperation. Her previous work brought her to Georgia (Caucasus), where she worked for a consulting firm that organizes investments in local SMEs. She also manages her own social initiative in Georgia in collaboration with a local NGO and private training institutes active in skills development and youth empowerment.

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