(First published blue wings,March 2012, Sanoma Magazines Finland)
There are now some 400 million entrepreneurs starting and running new businesses, according to a recent survey by the world’s largest study of entrepreneurship, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (www. gemconsortium.org), which profiled 54 economies.
In Europe, the German capital is currently a hotbed for new ventures. “Berlin is an amazing city that’s very similar to a startup, with a large pool of people who have big ideas, are passionate, and willing to work hard,” says Edial Dekker, Dutch-born CEO and co-founder of Gidsy (http://gidsy.com/about/). The Berlin- based online platform lets people discover, offer and book unique experiences in New York, London, Berlin and Amsterdam.
Gidsy was founded on the concept of micro-employment, where anyone can be an entrepreneur by organising, hosting and charging a nominal fee for a specialised off-line activity. These range from a Chinatown soup dumpling tour in NYC to ping-pong and speed-dating in London. The startup recently received more than one million euros in investor funding, including seed money from Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher.
But Berlin is not representative of the rest of Europe, which according to the European Union does not have enough entrepreneurs setting up new businesses. Not to mention the disproportionate number of female to male entrepreneurs. For example, in the EU’s largest country, Germany, women account for no more than 29 per cent of all start-ups.
Iceland’s Rúna Magnusdottir, a successful entrepreneur and founder of Connected-Women.com and co-founder of BRANDit, is ranked by Forbes magazine as one of 20 global business women to follow on twitter. She believes that a social system promoting gender equality, strong female role models as well as specific government grants and programmes to assist women entrepreneurs start a business all increase economic diversity.
“Global power systems are collapsing around us – the bank crash in Iceland, the global financial crisis, the Arab Spring,” she says. “Now more than ever we need entrepreneurs to change the world into one where we and our children want to live.”