Looking at the latest media coverage, one comes to the conclusion that it is “en vogue” to be an entrepreneur as a young person. In fact, digitization offers young people as many opportunities as ever to start a business and to do business, even across borders. Governments and organizations are also happy to make contact with young entrepreneurs and meet with them in order to appear as “hip” as possible. In reality, however, entrepreneurs, and young entrepreneurs in particular, often face great challenges. After all, economic and entrepreneurial activitie are often conducted any more only on a global level, that means across borders, and the same applies to competition: young entrepreneurs are increasingly focusing their business and its growth on the opportunities that arise not only in their own country — “go global” is today’s claim! However, this creates new obstacles which cannot be eliminated by one state alone.
The voice of this new generation of young entrepreneurs has been since 2010 the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (G20 YEA), whose members are the most important young entrepreneur organisations in the G20 countries. Once a year, their representatives meet in order to discuss problems, obstacles and success factors — also from their own experience — and to develop demands that are presented to the governments of the G20 countries as to how international young entrepreneurship can be better supported.
But what are the central demands of the G20 YEA to the governments of the G20 countries to support young entrepreneurs?
Enable Early education in entrepreneurial skills
Support for young entrepreneurs should be launched at an early stage. The necessary skills such as digital competence, quality of management, handling of financial resources or communication should already have a prominent place in education, and should in particular focus on school and university education. This is why the G20 YEA calls for both academic and secondary (university) education to be expanded by means of focus on the skills required for entrepreneurs. And through support by means of a “learning by doing” system, for example by means of practical entrepreneurial activities such as school or university start-ups or at least business games, the students could already work on and try out their future (theoretical or practical) company during their education and training.
Provide financial support
Of course, financial resources are required. For this reason, another priority of the G20 YEA is to enhance the financial support for partnerships between university incubators and accelerators and the private sector. In this way, university resources can be used by and, at the same time, innovations from university development can be introduced to existing companies.
Allow making connections and provide information
After the foundation, one of the most important phases for a company is the expansion and the scaling. In this phase, a platform for establishing contacts, fostering cultural exchange and creating opportunities for cooperations would be very helpful in order to access customers and employees worldwide. To capture the most important economic regions in the world, it makes sense if such a platform is provided and supported by the G20 countries and the relevant information and contacts (for example on the prerequisites for company foundations, on taxation, on important regulations or on the use of employees) is made available here.
Provide digital infrastructure
Since young entrepreneurs are constantly online and many business models require mobile accessibility, a functioning digital infrastructure is essential. This must be available without interference by means of high-speed Internet lines and at the same time it must be cost-effective. The G20 YEA therefore calls on the G20 countries to develop a 5G network in all G20 countries by 2022 to enable an uninterrupted participation in global digital networking.
Create a visa program for entrepreneurs
As described above, it is particularly important for young entrepreneurs to be in contact with customers, investors and potential employees worldwide. For this reason, strengthening the access and the presence for young entrepreneurs in their identified target markets is a particular concern of the G20 YEA. It therefore calls for a special visa program for entrepreneurs in the G20 countries, which allows a (young) entrepreneur not to enter a G20 country with as little difficulties as possible, but also lets him set up and develop its company there.
In this context, the sometimes lengthy prerequisites for setting up a company or its continuation in some countries pose challenges for young entrepreneurs. The G20 YEA therefore calls for the implementation of structural and legal reforms with the aim of simplifying entrepreneurship through simplified bureaucracy and concomitant cost reductions. Overriding bureaucracy is the greatest obstacle to cross-border activities. The G20 YEA therefore specifically calls on the governments of the G20 countries to set themselves the goal of enabling the citizens of a G20 country to establish and register a company in another G20 country within 5 days, and if possible without the help of consultants or special professions.
Provide tax incentives
And since the creation of a company is often associated with the creation of new jobs, tax incentives should be created for young entrepreneurs, not only to start a business and generate profits, but also to create jobs as quickly as possible.
Strengthen the protection of intellectual property
Last but not least, it should not be forgotten that there are still different legal configurations in the individual G20 countries with regards to the protection of intellectual property. Often, however, the potential of a company lies in its initial idea, so that the protection of intellectual property is of particular importance. Here, the G20 YEA calls for the closure of existing gaps in the individual G20 countries with regards to IP protection in order to ensure a G20-wide uniform protection level.
Young entrepreneurship is global!
Young entrepreneurs are innovative, have the willingness to take calculated risks and will not stop the implementation of their business ideas because of national borders. They also create jobs that are urgently required because they use the opportunities of a globally connected world. However, they are faced with a variety of obstacles to their entrepreneurial ambitions, often resulting from “thinking in national borders”. However, what is needed is a viewpoint that goes away from “it is enough for our country” to a “how could we do better to respond to global competition”. The G20 YEA is ready to tackle the issue of how cross-border entrepreneurship can be strengthened and propose solutions to the G20 governments and leaders.
Carsten Lexa is the President of G20 Young Entrepreneurs´ Alliance Germany and the host of the German G20 YEA 2017 Berlin Summit (link to the Summit website). A corporate lawyer by profession and equipped with his own law firm (link to the law firm website), he advises international clients, who want to do business in Germany, in corporate and commercial legal matters. He is, by invitation of the European Commission, a participant in the annual SME Assembly. He is also a member of the B20 Task Forces and since 2014 a member of the national board of JCI Germany (WJD — Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland), the biggest organization for young leaders and entrepreneurs in Germany.