There's “no time to lose” to foster entrepreneurship

Minister Françoise Hetto-Gaasch
Minister Françoise Hetto-Gaasch
Photo: Steve Eastwood

(CS) Luxembourg needs to foster a culture of entrepreneurship to help its economic growth. That was the message at an Indian Business Chamber seminar on Wednesday evening.

Guest of honour of the evening was Minister Françoise Hetto-Gaasch, who is responsible for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Grand Duchy. The minister said that entrepreneurship was essential to economic growth, as it opens up new markets and sees the creation of new products and services.

She also pointed out efforts underway to decrease administrative and legal burdens. An SME action plan is in the works, the minister said, adding that it will be “an important tool to create the best possible environment for SMEs.”

However, Hetto-Gaasch also pointed out that several measures were already in place to encourage entrepreneurship, such as the interregional business plan contest 1,2,3 GO. Still, more action is needed to motive the young generation to not just get a job, but create jobs, the minister said.

A “wave of global change”

Main speaker of the night, Sanjeev B. Ahuja, President of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in the UK, echoed this opinion, saying that a shift in mentality was needed, especially in western economies, to promote entrepreneurship.

Ahuja spoke on a “wave of global change” seeing a slow-down in western economies, with fiscal deficits and thin job markets. Entrepreneurship is the “intuitive and obvious response” to tackle the current crisis, he said.

At the same time, fast pace technological change and the world moving ever closer together provides more and more business opportunities, for example in online retail or mobile gaming. With Europe losing its competitive edge, there is “no time to lose” to encourage and foster entrepreneurship, Ahuja said.

Taking control of your own career

However, entrepreneurship is not just about someone making billions of dollars in Silicon Valley by having one bright idea, Ahuja explained. Instead, it is about people who want to make a success of something, people who abandon a steady income and securities, to build something of their own.

But, especially in western economies, it takes some convincing to lead people to start out as an entrepreneur, Ahuja said, adding that the right framework needs to be put in place, from both the public and private sector.

A strong venture capital sector is needed to invest in SMEs, to allow them to grow into viable businesses. At the same time, attitudes about entrepreneurship need to be positive and encouraging. Failure needs to become an accepted part of learning to build a business, laws need to be in place to protect IP and offer a sound framework, and more pieces of the puzzle need to be in place, such as infrastructure, research and development transfer, government policies, academic programmes and education.

Making the effort as a society, a government and a country to encourage entrepreneurship, however, is worth it, and “the sooner we start the better,” Ahuja said. “Entrepreneurship is here to stay.”