Entering an era of low growth and high unemployment, many countries across the world are in competition to boost entrepreneurship to drive growth and create jobs. To nurture entrepreneurs, they have streamlined or created related rules and policies.
Looking back the nation’s corporate history, entrepreneurship is not a new concept. Entrepreneurial activities have been the real driver of Korea’s economic miracle.
Back in the early 1960s, Korea and Koreans, armed with a strong will to rebuild the nation from the ashes of the Korean War, were not afraid to take risks and face uncertainties to create something from scratch. Entrepreneurs flooded into many sectors, backed by the government, and some of them were successful, encouraging the “can-do-spirit” across the nation.
The continued entrepreneurial activities in the corporate sector turned the Korean economy to one of the strongest manufacturing powerhouses in the world in four decades.
As of now, Korea is globally competitive in more than 10 industries, including electronics, semiconductors and steel.
This is why Peter Drucker, an Austrian-born American management guru, picked Korea as the country with the best entrepreneurship back in 1996.
However, Korea has been losing its entrepreneurial spirit and so vitality of the economy for the past decade as Koreans prefer stability to risks along with the maturity of the economy.
These days, entrepreneurship is shrinking in Korea. According to a report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, a project participated in by 54 countries, Korea’s technology-based start-up activity index, which focuses on an area that requires creativity and technology, is 36 percent, falling far behind countries like the U.S. (59 percent) and Germany (55 percent).
One of the main reasons for the trend is the impact of the venture bubble bursting in the early 2000s.
Additionally, conglomerates, which had led the Korean economy by exporting Korean goods, are losing their competitive edge, pressed by growing competition from rivals in emerging markets like China.
Weakening entrepreneurial activities and slowing performances of big business groups are adding to the concerns about the Korean economy facing such macroeconomic issues as aging, the low birthrate and youth employment.
I believe it is “global entrepreneurship” that Korea needs to boost the most to revitalize the economy, while solving the macroeconomic issues ahead.
Global entrepreneurs are seeking to set up venture businesses targeting the global market beyond the saturated domestic market. They are raising capital for their start-ups from global funds or international venture capital firms.
To find more global entrepreneurs, venture firms need to develop the ability to work with global talents. For this, I suggest those firms look to international students studying in Korea and do business with them.
Policymakers need to develop and offer training and education programs to potential global entrepreneurs. SMBA has prepared for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Week Korea to help those who dream of becoming global entrepreneurs gain an opportunity to share their experiences and gain insight from global start-up businesspeople.
Korea opened Tips Town, a technology-driven global start-up accelerator, in August in an attempt to inject innovative, ground-up ideas into the economy, which is losing vitality. The organizations have sought to develop creative business items and help them advance into global start-ups.
The success of a creative economy depends on the hands of entrepreneurs taking challenges and risks to become global players from the beginning. Korean youths, who aspire to tie with global talents for an opportunity, while sharing information, technology and knowledge with them, will seize the chance for growth and prosperity in the future.