Almost three-in-ten citizens globally say they have started a business at some point

Entrepreneurialism is the spawning ground for small businesses which we know help drive the health of most economies. Small businesses took the brunt of pandemic shut downs and are now only recovering. So, what does the spawning ground look like now? A new 26-country Ipsos poll finds that entrepreneurial activity is alive and well in some countries but lacking in others.

Overall, almost three-in-ten global citizens (31%) say that they have started a business at some point, while close to an equal number (29%) hope to do so in the near future.  

But entrepreneurial activity and aspirations vary widely by country. For example: 

  • Peru (54%), Colombia (54%) and Mexico (53%) have the highest proportion of people saying they have started a business in the past, while South Korea (18%), France (16%), Belgium (14%) and Japan (9%)  have the lowest rates of entreprenurialism. 

  • Colombia (58%), Mexico (55%) and South Africa (54%) have the highest proportion of adults saying they are likely to start a business in the future, while Sweden (13%), Belgium (13%, the Netherlands (11%) and Japan (8%) have the lowest rates of people planning on starting a business. 

Government support seen as key

When asked how much inflation, interest rates and government supports contribute to the success of new business endeavors, government supports ranks first (56%), interest rates second (50%) and inflation third (40%). But only close to one-third (30%), on average across 28 countries, say that government is doing a good job fostering entrepreneurialism in their countries.  

The private sector and banks do not fair any better. Only a  minority say that the private sector (31%) and banks (31%) are doing a good job fostering entrepreneurialism in their countries.  

Non-traditional groups becoming active

While entrepreneurialism may have been the domain of men and higher socio-economic groups in the past, this is no longer the case.  

  • People who identify as women (+5%), Gen Z/Millennial (+18%) and lower income (+7%) have increased most since 2018 in reporting that they have started a business.  

  • The biggest increase in entrepreneurial aspirations since 2018 is among women, Gen Z/Millennials, those with lower education, and people of lower and middle income.  

Funding holding people back

When asked what the key barriers are to starting a business, funding ranks as the top barrier (41%). Lack of interest (19%) and the condition of the economy (19%) rank well back tied in second place, while lack of knowledge (17%) is close behind.

Social entrepreneurialism competing with business entrepreneurialism

Entrepreneurialism is being manifested mostly in its traditional way – business creation (business entrepreneurialism).

However, it is also being manifested, sometimes in conjunction with business creation but sometimes not, in social entrepreneurialism (captured as those who’ve created an interest group). More than one in 10 (14%) of global citizens say that they have started an interest group in the past and 19% say that they are likely to in the next 2 years.  

As well, social entrepreneurialism tends to be a more recent phenomenon than business entrepreneurialism, with a greater proportion of those creating an interest group doing so in the past 2 years (76% vs. 52% who started their business in the past 2 years). 

This reflects the reality of who current and likely entrepreneurs are as people — they are much more likely than non-entrepreneurs to be participating/active in society generally (i.e., follow news, donate time/money, etc.).

Women not treated fairly

Just under 2 in 5  global citizens (37%) believe that women are treated fairly when they try to start a business. This varies wildely by country with a majority in Saudi Arabia (72%), China (67%), India (60%) and Malaysia (55%) believing women are treated fairly. This belief is lowest in Italy (26%), France (26%), Brazil (25%), South Korea (24%) and Japan (14%).

The bottom line

Our Ipsos entrepreneurialism study shows that there is significant untapped potential for entrepreneurial activity moving further into 2022 and beyond.

And key to tapping this potential is recognizing that traditionally underrepresented groups, like women, those with lower education and those with lower incomes, are catching up with traditional groups, such as men?, in their entrepreneurial aspirations.

Also key in tapping into entrepreneurialism is recognizing that business entrepreneurialism often goes hand in hand with social entrepreneurialism.


About the study

These are the findings of a 28-country Ipsos survey conducted May 27-June 7, 2022, among 21,515 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa and Turkey, and among people ages 16-74 in 23 other countries, via Ipsos’ Global Advisor online survey platform.