GEW Bonds Governments in Central America and the Caribbean
28 May 2014

With the 4th Annual Seminar-Workshop for Professionals in the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Latin America held in Santo Domingo last week, all eyes were on the Dominican Republic. Like many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is striving to catch up to big players in the region such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Brazil by making strengthening and growing its entrepreneurial economy a top priority.

As part of a new entrepreneurship-friendly strategy, Orlando Perez has been appointed as Director of the National Program of Entrepreneurship at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology.

Outside of government, Perez leads Emprende, the official host organization of GEW in the Dominican Republic, a week that attracts thousands of participants each year. At its core, Emprende seeks to support the creation of technology-based companies so it is only natural that its founder would be selected to help increase entrepreneurship education in a country in dire need of stronger STEM programs. Following Perez's appointement at the National Program of Entrepreneurship, his colleague Jose Checo is stepping up at Chair of the 2014 GEW Dominican Republic campaign.

In the context of the gathering of entrepreneurship representatives from 77 countries last week, the Dominican national government launched its entrepreneurship strategy in a ceremony with PresidentDanilo Medina (pictured far-left in the photo above), Vice-President Margarita de Fernandez, ministers for the Departments of Industry, Commerce and Education, authorities from the SICA trade block, and Dane Stangler, vice president for Research and Policy of the Kauffman Foundation. The national strategy follows a regional agreement among the eight countries forming the Central American Integration System (SICA) to insert entrepreneurs at the front of the economic agenda.

“Global Entrepreneurship Week is a common bond among the eight countries in the regional block. It was a key tool to articulate the regional strategy,” said Ivette Caceres, advisor for the national entrepreneurship strategy at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. She told Cristina Fernandez, GEW policy & research director, that each country is now tasked with adjusting the regional strategy to national realities and implementing it. In the Dominican Republic, local stakeholders leveraged expertise from Colombia, and formulated a plan based on five key pillars:

  1. Education system
  2. Supportive ecosystem
  3. Institutional articulation
  4. Mindset and culture
  5. Financing

With this in mind, I wrote a piece last week for the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship examining the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Dominican Republic as well as the potential challenges the country will face going forward.

Entrepreneurship dynamics are not static, nor should their policy frameworks be, so the challenges will always continue to evolve and policy must keep pace as it is happening for example with crowdfunding regulatory innovation. Even the earliest players, Chile and Brazil, who have been experimenting with entrepreneurship policy since the 1990s, are still struggling to move forward through evidence and evaluation of what actually works in promoting startup expansion. The entry of new regional players asking pioneers about results and evidence of what works, pushes the frontier forward for all.

The full story is available through the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship.