This post is part of a four-part series on policy lessons shared by policymakers from across dozens of countries ahead of their participation in the V Startup Nations Ministerial:
- Start with a Strong Signal
- Mind the Gap Between Idea and Impact
- Overcome Implementation Challenges
- Tackle Overlooked Policy Areas
As discussed in our previous post in this series about policy insights, no matter how good a policy idea might be, its impact will be limited if it can’t be successfully implemented.
From our interviews with Startup Nations policy network members and research on the Atlas Policies, we identified four main ways countries are overcoming implementation challenges.
Entrepreneurship does not easily lend itself to orderly planning. But several countries have realized they need to address the lack of coordination noted above.
- Bahrain: While the country has had numerous public sector efforts to promote entrepreneurship for many years, in 2017 it established the SME Development Board to coordinate work across several different organizations (read more about Bahrain, here).
- Ireland: In 2014, the country issued a National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship to create a framework for existing and new efforts related to entrepreneurship. The statement helped make clear what disparate policy actions rolled up to, and it helped different agencies track progress.
- Saudi Arabia: To unify public efforts, the government created Tayseer, a committee to bring together 35 government entities working on entrepreneurship and SMEs.
Sometimes ad hoc policymaking is not bad. In the face of uncertainty, sometimes the best that policymakers can or should do is “muddling through.” But integration can help reduce confusion, increase utilization by entrepreneurs, and sustain support.
As noted above, enthusiasm for entrepreneurship can wane if results are not seen after a certain period of time. It helps to have an established structure and dedicated staff who can persist through periods where entrepreneurship might “go out of fashion.”
In the case of Argentina, for example, the country's Secretary for Entrepreneurs, Mariano Mayer, worked on entrepreneurship for years in the city of Buenos Aires and was subsequently recruited to the national level. He brought his experience, lessons, and team with him to the national government, helping create strong persistence in policymaking for entrepreneurs.
At the same time, several policymakers emphasized the importance of flexibility and the ability of governments to adapt to changes and opportunities as they arise.
Policymakers may not think of themselves this way, but they are salespeople, just like the entrepreneurs they are trying to help. They are selling the idea of entrepreneurship, they are selling their policies and programs, and so on. To be effective in that role, policymakers should make needs and opportunities tangible. When possible, they should demonstrate the real-world context of entrepreneurship, and be direct and focused in their actions.
- Singapore: Widely admired by policymakers in other countries, the government has agencies with clear remits to fund high-risk, high-potential sectors. The focus and actions are clear, and the government helps demonstrate to the private sector what is possible.
- South Africa: The national government has committed itself to continuous engagement with the entrepreneurial ecosystem, constantly interacting with the stakeholders to identify needs and gaps. This not only demonstrates commitment but helps the government tailor its action to actual needs.
- European Commission: Within Europe, the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) initiative is a mobility and matchmaking scheme for entrepreneurs, allowing them to move around and connect with mentors. The initiative was founded on a strong base of prior research and evidence and has now served as the basis for a pilot beyond Europe.
- City (anonymous): In the process of establishing regulations for new entrepreneurial firms, one city demonstrated products and services for policymakers so they could actually see and experience the processes and what impact different regulations might have.
To overcome the gap between ideas and impact — and sustain attention in the face of misaligned time frames — many countries and regions have established systems for data collection, monitoring, and evaluation. A new community within the our global network - GEN Data - is exploring best practices in that regard.
We also encourage you to contribute to the Startup Nations Atlas of Policies so that your experiences and lessons can be shared with your policymaking peers all over the world. To become an Atlas contributor and part of the Startup Nations policy network, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.