Entrepreneurship Driving Prosperity
Entrepreneurs and small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy. There are more than 1 million small businesses that employ 48 per cent of Canada’s total workforce, account for 25 per cent of total exports, and provide 30 per cent of our total GDP. Of those small businesses, 4.7 per cent are classified as high-growth enterprises and are responsible for 45 per cent of new job creation in Canada.
Entrepreneurship is a powerful force for driving job creation, innovation, economic growth, and fueling healthy and sustainable communities. Governments around the world are responding to shifts in global markets by strengthening the domestic climate for entrepreneurs as a way to ensure economic growth and prosperity. The launch of Startup America, Startup Britain and similar private-public-civil society initiatives in 2011 has contributed to entrepreneurial growth in more than a dozen countries worldwide.
In Canada, the local movement has only just begun:
- The government of Canada declared 2011 as the ‘Year of the Entrepreneur’, recognizing the critical role of entrepreneurship in securing Canada’s ongoing economic recovery and prosperity;
- The ‘Review of Federal Support to Research and Development’ Expert Panel Report, spearheaded by Tom Jenkins, Chief Strategy Officer of Open Text Corporation, called for action to unleash the potential of Canadian entrepreneurs through innovation;
- Action Canada released ‘Fuelling Canada’s Economic Success: A National Strategy for High-Growth Entrepreneurship’, calling for the creation of a central enabling organization with the mandate to fuel high-growth entrepreneurship in Canada; and,
- The Coalition for Action, C100, Startup Visa and other organizations in the innovation and entrepreneurship community, put forth proposals and recommendations for action to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship in Canada.
The Canadian Challenge
While Canadians like to think of themselves as great collaborators, the Canadian entrepreneurship community hasn’t come together yet around a shared vision or purpose. Canadian entrepreneurs are struggling to navigate a complex and highly fragmented enterprise ecosystem, which creates challenges for entrepreneurs to identify and access support, build and leverage national and global networks, and limits the capacity to share knowledge and best practices. An absence of adequate risk capital, combined with a shortage of management and business skills normally fostered through startup failures and second- or third-attempts, contributes to Canada’s overall deficiency in “entrepreneurial culture”.
What is needed most urgently, as recommended by Action Canada, is a national strategy to bring together the collaborative efforts of the entire entrepreneurship community to create more favorable conditions for entrepreneurs to flourish. Without a strategy, Canada will continue to trail international competition and risk economic recovery and long-term prosperity.
The solution begins with a grassroots, entrepreneur-led movement to bring together Canada’s national entrepreneurship community to create a clear vision and strategy that leads to real change and action.