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Conclusions of the White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain

Training entrepreneurs, beginning at school, and improved financing: key factors in strengthening entrepreneurship. The White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain shows that entrepreneurship is primarily a response to need (59%) rather than to opportunity (41%). Fear of failure, dislike of risk, lack of self-confidence and poor image of entrepreneurs are the foremost obstacles to entrepreneurship

“Entrepreneurship can be learned at school” and it should be promoted so that young people “can develop such skills as self-reliance, self-confidence and decision-making in risk environments”. This is one of the main conclusions of the White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain, which has been promoted by the Prince of Girona Foundation (PGiF) and conducted by experts of the ESADE Business School. This study, which includes a survey of over 7,000 young people, also reveals that another of the challenges to be faced in promoting entrepreneurship is to improve the financing of new business projects and especially the availability of venture capital in the early stages of company start-ups.

The White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain, which has been given to H.R.H. the Prince of Asturias and of Girona, was presented in Madrid in an event held at ESADE's headquarters.

The study was also presented in FiraForum Girona in conjunction with a discussion among four young entrepreneurs on the critical aspects observed by the report. 

Educating for entrepreneurship
According to the authors of the White Paper, "the young people of Spain do not really feel that they have been educated for entrepreneurship". For this reason the authors state that it is necessary for "teachers to have suitable tools and materials at school to be able to teach the sense of initiative and the company spirit and to foster the interaction of their students with local entrepreneurs".

These educational actions should allow the entrepreneurial culture to be promoted,  “avoiding the stigmatization of the creator of a new company that fails” while “increasing the number of entrepreneurs in the country”, a number which represents just 5.1% as is pointed out in the study and one which is moreover diminishing as a result of the economic crisis. Indeed, this figure is even more surprising if it is compared to that of other countries such as Norway (8.5%) or the U.S.A. (8%).

The authors of the White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain emphasize that, despite these findings, “the fact is that in Spain, with the current economic situation, the time is ripe to promote entrepreneurship” because, according to the report, entrepreneuring initiatives are launched primarily in response to need (59%) rather than to opportunity (41%). 
Change of outlook

In the report, the experts point out the need to change Spanish youth's outlook. The White Paper states that the country's young people are not entrepreneurs because they are “complacent” and prefer wage-earning to self-employment. What's more, this trend has risen in recent years from 34% in 2001 to 52% in 2009.

Consequently, the report concludes that Spain's young people prefer stability (77%) and fixed income (70%) to the possibility of creating their own company. This is also one of the conclusions of the survey, confirming the low esteem in which entrepreneurs are held by Spanish youth aged 18 to 34 years.

The White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain devotes a special section to the "Neet" generation, which already represents 10.9% of the population between the ages of 15 and 19 years in our country. This figure situates Spain in first place in the ranking, ahead of other countries of the European Union, even including Portugal, and the United States. While the Neets in Italy between the ages of 20 and 24 years outnumber those in Spain, 17.2% of the young people are neither studying nor working.

Why aren't young people entrepreneurs in Spain?
The main reasons for making the decision not to become an entrepreneur in Spain are the fear of failure and the dislike of risk. The report points out that 45% of the young people who were surveyed are afraid of failure, a figure that is surpassed by France alone with 47%.

Likewise, neither are the Spanish inclined to run risks, with only 12% stating that they are risk-takers as opposed to 39% in the United States. The report also shows that the people surveyed deem themselves to be rather uncreative and consider that whatever happens to them is determined to a large extent by other people or by chance.

Another of the hindrances to entrepreneurship in Spain is the poor image that is held of self-employment. In fact, being an entrepreneur shows a popularity rating of only 48% in comparison to 73% in the United States or 62% in France. In this respect, the young people of Spain think that society places greater value on independent professionals (72%) or scientists and artists (69%) than on entrepreneurs or businessmen (38%). Civil servants alone are more poorly considered.

The study reveals, moreover, that it is considered that the communication media “do not devote sufficient attention to entrepreneuring initiative” while “in countries like the United States or Norway, the media show twice as much interest in this matter”. 

What can be done with respect to this situation?
The Prince of Girona Foundation considers that one of the key factors for improving the living conditions of young people is to help to explain that, just as H.R.H. said at the past IMPULSA Forum, "entrepreneurship means contributing added value to our everyday life in every sphere ". “Writers, artists, scientists, athletes and, needless to say, the people who work on social projects, can also be entrepreneurs”.

In the next few years, the Prince of Girona Foundation, which has the mission of providing support to the training and development of youth, plans to promote projects that are especially addressed to entrepreneurship education, beginning at the primary education level.

The experts consider that, in the current situation of crisis, our young people's attitude with respect to the possibility of creating companies should change, seeing entrepreneurship as a real occupational opportunity with a future, above all considering the fact that society is undergoing great transformation and demands a constant adaptation to change. The most reasonable thing at present would be for entrepreneurship to become a priority. It is also necessary to train teachers and to design appropriate materials and tools in order to make new entrepreneuring initiative modules a part of the school curricula and to generalize the availability of courses on the creation of new companies at university level.

The authors of the study have also pointed out the need to improve the financing for entrepreneuring initiative. They highlight the increase that has taken place in recent years in the number of "business angels" or angel investors, that is to say, private investors who sponsor new projects. Spain has 1,473 business angels, surpassing Sweden, for example, where there are 1,042. The study shows, however, that the situation is not so positive with respect to venture capital, especially in the early stages of company start-ups.

Role playing on Entrepreneurship in Spain during the IMPULSA Forum 2011

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