A new EY report calls for G20 leaders to better support young entrepreneurs through policies that ensure digital disruption enables rather than hinders their business development plans.
The report, “Disrupting the disruptors: Disrupting youth entrepreneurship with digital and data”, was recently released globally at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (G20 YEA) summit in China.
It identifies key policy recommendations using a digital barometer to compare digital entrepreneurship performance of G20 nations and identifies leading practices and policies that allow young entrepreneurs to thrive on digital disruption.
Countries that rank first in at least one key indicator for supporting digital entrepreneurship include Canada (access to finance); the US (entrepreneurial culture, digital skills and entrepreneurial education, digital knowledge base, and ICT market); and the UK (digital business environment).
South Africa ranks sixth for access to finance, twelfth for entrepreneurial culture, digital business environment, digital knowledge base; and ICT market, and sixteen for digital skills and entrepreneurial education.
Sugan Palanee, Africa markets leader at EY, says: “As technological innovation charges ahead, ‘digital disruption’ will have significant implications for how entrepreneurs innovate in this digital environment; this even more so for young entrepreneurs who are now more exposed to digital technologies.
“Digital disruption provides a powerful opportunity to enable an entrepreneurial ecosystem that empowers and provides opportunities to young entrepreneurs, in particular women, to grow and scale their business. Entrepreneurs need an environment where all stakeholders including business and government can work closely together to create the right conditions for entrepreneurship to thrive.”
The report’s top policy recommendations are:

Access to finance:
* Support the development of early-stage financing and support schemes for young entrepreneurs, including incubators and accelerators.

Entrepreneurial culture:
* Introduce entrepreneurship as a specialised stream in higher education and schools.
* Engage industry in the development and delivery of tech, digital and management-focused training.
* Protect young entrepreneurs’ intellectual property with targeted provisions to encourage innovation and collaboration with larger organisations and investors.

Digital business environment:
* Promote the development of support networks for newly arrived entrepreneurs in G20 host countries.
* Establish clear guidelines on data privacy and security, including usage, data rights and quality.

Digital skills and entrepreneurial education:
* Teach entrepreneurship in schools from elementary through to final years of high school and prioritise STEM education, particularly for female students.
* Promote youth entrepreneurship mentoring and coaching programs within industry and entrepreneurship networks.

Digital knowledge base and ICT market:
* Foster multi-stakeholder digital clusters and networks, including those with a sectoral or city-level focus, along with coaching and mentoring schemes.
* Support university-entrepreneur collaboration, including through funding incentives for universities.
Azim Omar, Africa strategic growth markets leader, says: “The focus of developing a supportive entrepreneurial culture needs to be natured during primary and secondary school years. The barometer results and interview feedback highlights that culture and education are tightly connected, in addition to relevant skills, which should be systematically introduced through education. This concerns not only entrepreneurship in its most obvious sense but also the capacity of young people to adapt to and adopt change, as well as their mindset on managing digital disruption.
“At the same time, an innovative culture needs the right IP support, especially where digital or technological innovations, which are highly portable, are being developed.
“Working with leading entrepreneurs, and leaders of fast growth companies, as well as high-potential female entrepreneurs, we believe these recommendations are important enablers and will be instrumental in making digital disruption a catalyst for youth entrepreneurship.”