Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Costa Rica: A Necessary Tool?

    An interesting perspective from a local businessman

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    I have visited different entrepreneurial cities in the world, be it Boston, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Guatemala City, which have concentrated monetary, logistical and urban efforts to create a true ecosystem focused on the entrepreneur.

    The creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem entails the creation of a branch and connection of different relevant social players. This for the creation and potentialization of companies. Understanding the participation of the academy, government entities, investors, managers of business services and entrepreneurship specialists at a theoretical and practical level.

    Conversing with some thinkers on the entrepreneurial issue in Central America, I consider that there is a general error of approach. Entrepreneur support ecosystems are NOT for the creation and growth of companies. They are tools to sustain the economic life of those who operate and provide technical knowledge and services to those that exist for self-motivated people seeking support.

    The dilemma arises because the questions asked by the operators of the entrepreneurial support systems themselves are wrong. We are faced with a situation equal to the question: How do we create more Olympic medalists? The previous question is not simple, you cannot force people to be an athlete and neither can we pretend that with just training we will be competitive.

    This is where I collide with local thinkers who, from my perspective, confuse entrepreneurship with welfare. They continue to see entrepreneurship as a way to generate some way of creating household income and to cover up the reality of the State’s material impossibility to create jobs.

    Let’s be frank: the state has failed to create the right conditions to create jobs. What’s more, it believes that continuing to invest millions of dollars annually in a broken SME support system is going to change something. You can fool many many times, but you cannot fool all of them all the time.

    Just as in sports, to have a successful entrepreneurial ecosystem it is not only having the best facilities, coaches and tools, there must also be a generalized culture that attends:

    – Acceptance of failure as part of the venture

    – Support to invest taking risks

    – Resilience

    – Open to associative models

    Because as an Olympic athlete, the best external conditions can exist, but without the competitive spirit, no one will arrive long.

    Error: not starting from the institutional base

    We must start by putting the entrepreneurial support at the center of all business support, we cannot continue starting from the institutional base. The Ministry of Economy, Industry and Commerce has declined in recent years, having many legal powers to execute national mega-projects and implementing a true public policy.

    But it advocates protecting the interests of rice and sugar producers instead of thinking about the entrepreneur. It currently has a decimated Small and Medium Business Directorate, with representatives who only keep a meager business registry.

    And it only serves to repeat the old discourse that it is necessary to formalize to be a good entrepreneur, as if such a thing generated benefits to the market, the client or the company itself.

    A serious entrepreneurial ecosystem should set itself the goal of solving these problems:

    – Lack of growth in local consumption

    – Economic growth based on wages and not capital

    – Lack of credit for companies with a local focus

    – Lack of productive chains within the local market

    – High operating and formalization costs

    – Focusing all of the above on the different entrepreneurial profiles, being independent workers, self-employed and entrepreneurs.

    Time passes and is unforgiving, our country has already lost eight years (or more honestly) of precious resources without really solving the local market situation: creating jobs and allowing adequate business freedoms for the creation of wealth and employment.
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