As humans thrive in their ecosystem with physical and biological factors so are businesses. A healthy environment promotes entrepreneurship. For a developing country like Nigeria, am sure everyone knows that entrepreneurship is the way to go because it has the potentials to create jobs, boost the growth of our GDP and then impact on the overall productivity of the country. The question now is are we taking the right steps to build a system that supports tech entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
I have seen that building Hi-Tech focused businesses in the 21st century is the distinguishing factor among nations of the world. Israel with a highly developed Hi-Tech industry is a good example that Nigeria needs to learn from.
How are such Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (TEE) built?.A Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem is made up individuals (entrepreneurs),the government, tech startups, companies, institutions like the university, research centre, private sector, investors, banks who work together to build and sustain business development in an area. In building such a system for tech development, Government as the driver provides the enabling environment for all in the system.
Prof. Daniel Isenberg in his award winning article in the Harvard Business Review titled: How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution, points out that start-ups survive and tend to flourish in an ecosystem where entrepreneurs have access to human, financial and professional support they need. Also, they need an environment where government policies encourage their growth. He advises that any nation who desires to build such a system should:
– build it considering the uniqueness of their environment and shape it around local conditions and not want to build the next Silicon Valley.
-Engage the private sector early in the building of the ecosystem
-Tackle cultural changes that might hinder growth of the system
-Have a strong culture of celebrating success.
-Have refined legal and regulatory frameworks that will foster the growth of the ecosystem
Israel no doubt has built an enviable Technology Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. In my interaction with Arlene Marom who is the founder of Israel Startup Network, she takes me through how Silicon Wadi (Israel Hi-Tech Community) was built, some of the factors and the major drivers. Israel even as a small nation, has the highest concentration or if you like call it density of startups in the world with over 4000 start-ups, I guess that is why they are called the Start-Up Nation. This has also made them the most innovative place in the world. It is possible for them to achieve all these because of a culture and an ecosystem that supports such.
One of such systems that has contributed to the Hi-Tech development in Israel is the Technion- Israel Institute of Technologywhich has graduated over 67,000 tech entrepreneurs and professionals that are adding great value to the Startup Nation and the world at large.
Some of the unique qualities possessed by these entrepreneurs and start-up founders in Israel aside from their government keen interest and support are:
-They understand the uniqueness of their country and build Start-ups with such mindset, a spirit and culture that supports innovation and entrepreneurship.
-They take great risk and do not fear failure.
-They question just everything.
-They create Start-ups with the mind of it going global the next minute
-They tackle Start-up like in a war fare
-The Start-ups are not afraid to approach big companies.
From this, it becomes obvious that government has a major role to play to make such happen in Nigeria, Institutions of higher learning and then the entrepreneurs have their own roles as seen from what Israel-The Startup-Nation has achieved.