Inclusive entrepreneurship in the Basque Country

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The Basque country implemented a pilot of the COPIE tool using version 1 of the tool. The main findings were that the Basque country has a lot of initiatives and investment supporting entrepreneurship, but lacks a coherent and comprehensive framework across the region. Gaps were identified, for example in start-up support for vulnerable people outside the labour market.

Strengths and weaknesses of inclusive entrepreneurship in the Basque country

A lot of initiatives, programmes and investment in entrepreneurial activities were identified at regional and local levels in the Basque country. These included a specific entrepreneurial programme for women and a centre for inclusive enterprises. There is a generous public budget to support entrepreneurial activities and many people working in entrepreneurship promotion.

However, the study highlighted the lack of a co-ordinated and comprehensive overall inclusive entrepreneurship strategy including regional and local governments and support entities. Incubators were found to be only available around the major city areas and there was a lack of start-up support for vulnerable groups in unemployment or living on social benefits.

Assessment of the COPIE process

The tool was tested with 5 policy makers, 18 specialist advisors and 19 entrepreneurs across the Basque country. All participants were positive and willing. Interviews were mainly face to face, although email questionnaires were used effectively when distance or time prohibited this. Interviews prompted stories, issues etc from entrepreneurs and also raised general awareness of issues and developments from different perspectives The potential of the COPIE process for identifying gaps in the provision of support and infrastructure and differences in perception between groups was recognised. The visual presentation of the results was useful in spotting problems. The process identified examples of good practice for the on-line database. However it was found that some of the questions did not fit well into the local economic and social context (social services and financing) and different questions provided difficulties in data analysis and comparison. It was felt it could be better to use a 0 to 5 ranking system to allow the mid-point response.

It is important to separate questions fully. If you ask whether grants are fast and flexible this is difficult to answer if they are fast but not flexible or vice versa. A wider study would need special consideration on how to access entrepreneurs.

Ways forward for COPIE in the Basque country

Expanding the use of the tool in the Basque country would help identify the good practices across the provinces and counties of the region.

It would also reveal where gaps exist in provision. This would help identify priority areas for project funding under the new European structural funds.

The tool could be used to test efforts to improve the comprehensiveness of the region’s entrepreneurship support programmes

It can be used to give a quick analysis of entrepreneurship support as a first step to going deeper into the real causes of entrepreneurial problems.

The tool could be used to target growth sectors to investigate the needs and gaps particularly for under represented target groups.

media:Basque Country report