11 Feb 2022
Dubai – Entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing more business opportunities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Global Report entitled Opportunity Amid Disruption, unveiled at Expo 2020 Dubai.
In 2021, GEM’s Adult Population Survey (APS) featured at least 2,000 respondents across each of 47 economies. In 15 out of these 47 economies, more than half of those starting or running a new business agreed that the pandemic had led to new business opportunities. In 2020, this had been the case for just nine out of 46 economies.
"Disruption and uncertainty continue in multiple business sectors; but, as most entrepreneurs well know, with disruption comes opportunity," said Professor José Ernesto Amorós, Interim GEM–GERA Board Chair and a member of the GEM Mexico Team. “It is clear from this year’s research that entrepreneurs have been grasping pandemic-related opportunities and building resilience.”
Another key finding, perhaps pointing to some degree of global economic recovery, is the response from entrepreneurs on their perception of the difficulty of starting a business. In 2021, more than 50% of entrepreneurs agreed that starting a business had become more difficult in 18 of 47 economies. In 2020, almost twice as many (33 out of 46 economies) had 50% or more of their would-be entrepreneurs agreeing that this was the case.
“Living with the pandemic has certainly raised awareness of the business opportunities it brings in its wake," said Professor Stephen Hill, lead author of the Global Report.
The report also shone a spotlight on some of the difficulties impacting entrepreneurship around the world. This includes:
- In 22 of the 47 economies, more than one in two adults agreed their household income had decreased.
- Comparing 2021 to 2019 (pre-pandemic), Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA; GEM’s most well-known indicator, representing the percentage of adults that are starting or running a new business) has typically decreased. This has also been the case for levels of Established Business Ownership (EBO; the percentage of adults aged 18–64 owning or managing a business for more than 42 months).
- In a quarter of the GEM economies, over half of those starting or running a new business expect to employ no one but themselves in five years’ time. This may be indicative of high levels of informal “survival” businesses, created during economic hardship when no other alternatives or social safety nets are available, and when people resort to entrepreneurship as their only fall-back solution.
It is difficult to make informed decisions without having the right data. GEM fills this void for policymakers. GEM is the only global research source that collects data on entrepreneurship directly from the source — entrepreneurs! Policymakers can take action based on GEM data to help their respective entrepreneurial ecosystems to thrive.
United Arab Emirates: The Most Supportive Environment for Entrepreneurship
In 2021, of the 47 GEM-participating economies, national expert assessments scored the United Arab Emirates as having the most supportive environment for entrepreneurship. The UAE has the highest total score by a clear margin, having improved in 11 of the 13 framework conditions since 2020, and scoring highest of all 47 economies in four of them. The United Arab Emirates is the only economy to have scored as sufficient or better for all framework conditions.
The United Arab Emirates’ performance on its governance conditions was the most impressive among its 2021 scores. On the conditions Government Policy: Support and Relevance (7.0) and Government Policy: Taxes and Bureaucracy (7.5) the country had the highest scores among GEM Level A economies. The condition Government Entrepreneurial Programs (6.5) was second highest among this group. All three conditions improved over 2020, representing further progress in the country’s march to generating more impactful entrepreneurship.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is a consortium of national country teams, primarily associated with top academic institutions, that carries out survey-based research on entrepreneurship around the world. GEM is the only global research source that collects data on entrepreneurship directly from individual entrepreneurs!
The Swiss chapter of the GEM study is led by the School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) in collaboration with other colleges such as SUPSI Manno in Ticino.