Chilean business start-ups beat recession to hit six year high

The number of Chileans who say they are running a start-up business rose to 14.9 percent in 2009, two percentage points up from 2008, with an emerging trend in ‘social entrepreneurship’.


More Chileans started businesses in 2009 compared to the previous year, despite tougher conditions after the worldwide economic slowdown, according to a recent international report.

The 2009-2010 report from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), an international research organization, saw 14.9% of adults identifying themselves as engaged in “start-up enterprise activity” in 2009, compared to 12.9% in 2008. This marked a six year high since the 16.9% seen in 2003.

Meanwhile 6.7% say they are “established entrepreneurs”, about equal to the previous year’s figure.

An important new trend highlighted in the report is “social entrepreneurship,” with 2.4% of Chilean adults creating enterprises that have a “primarily social purpose,” placing Chile in the top 15 of almost 50 countries in the report. In Latin America, Chile scored higher than Brazil, Guatamala, Panama, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic but lower than Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Peru.

The nation’s business community showed a positive attitude to the difficult economic climate: while around two thirds of entrepreneurs said starting up a company was more difficult in 2009 than the previous year, 52% of Chile’s adult population believed there would be “good business opportunities in the next six months”.

The primary motivation for Chileans to start a business – for 68% of start-ups – was finding a particular business opportunity.

According to Oscar Cristi, economics professor at the Universidad del Desarrollo and consultant for the NGO Acción Emprendedora, who carried out the surveys for GEM, Chile still has some challenges to overcome.

In an interview with Chilean newspaper La Tercera, he said that the focus should now be on “creating educational programs to develop entrepreneurial skill-sets, and providing easier access to capital, to help address high entry and exit costs for start-ups.”