Set up an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your Community
We’ve talked a lot about how to run programs, but programs are only one part of the support system entrepreneurs in your community need if they are to be successful. Having developed programs and helped community leaders build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in 60-some countries around the world, I have worked with and studied several systems, such as the very successful Babson College model. While I incorporate aspects of these models in my work, I prefer, initially, to set things up in a simple way.
FIRST: “A simple way” means having a program that can foster activities in a meaningful way. One of the programs I love presenting is called Exploring Entrepreneurship, which we offer all over the world in collaboration with multiple partners.
SECOND: I make sure that when we run these programs we always have a local partner and an international partner involved in attracting participants. We work to address challenges the community may have, and sometimes an outsider can intervene in local political challenges.
THIRD: Diversity in the pool from which you draw participants, judges, and recruiters is key. The best way to do this is to allow them to feel they are part owner of the programs and activities of the ecosystem.
It is also important to establish a network of the ecosystem players so they can come together at regular intervals — monthly, quarterly, or annually — to stay in touch, communicate and rub shoulders. What you will notice right away is the more you get them engaged the more cooperation, and the more entrepreneurial activities.
It’s also a good idea to hold different activities in different locations for different reasons, encouraging people to travel and seeing the divergent ways of life and business between one city and another. This might initially feel like duplicate effort, but it is necessary to ensure the diversity of the engagement and the people who could be involved.
BEFORE YOU GO
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When cultivating an entrepreneurship ecosystem in your community make sure you:
- Have a component that includes startups
- Have a component for existing businesses
- Have a way for them to collaborate
Faris Alami is Founder and CEO of International Strategic Management, Inc. (ISM). He works internationally, presenting Exploring Entrepreneurship Workshops and other entrepreneurial ecosystem — related ventures.
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