Economic obstacles fail to deter unstoppable entrepreneurs

File: Phillips Oduoza, Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA at a past signing event

File: Phillips Oduoza, Group Managing Director/CEO, UBA at a past signing event

92% of East African entrepreneurs would do it again despite difficulties and lack of state support

Lusaka– Vital for economic growth but facing serious challenges, Zambia and East African small and micro businesses are displaying unwavering entrepreneurial spirit, according to new research commissioned by Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces.

Even though some might have fallen into business ownership through redundancy, a staggering 92 per cent of East African entrepreneurs reported that given the chance they would do it all over again, more than the global average of 85%.

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) and other entrepreneurial financial institutions have launched the Impact Economy Innovation Fund (IEIF)to accelerate growth in the continent’s emerging economies, which Zambia is expected to benefit from. The launch of the initiative will greatly benefit the local Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) which have been grappling with the problem of business project financing.

UBA chief executive officer Stanley Ugwueze “For Zambia, this is a great opportunity and I know that most of our local business entities will benefit from this and we expect to see our economy growing even further and quicker.”

This latest Regus research, canvassing over 26,000 business managers and owners in 90 countries, confirms that nimble and flexible  East African entrepreneurs regard lack of access to credit (86%) as the biggest deterrent to setting up a business today. Red tape (70%), lack of government support (57%) and market domination by large corporations (57%) followed. Over two fifths of East African entrepreneurs also cited the state of the economy as a serious hindrance.

Commenting on the findings, Regus Area Director for East Africa and Zambia, Peter Vieiria says: “Thank goodness for the Unstoppable Entrepreneur! Who knows what state the economy would be in if they decided to play safe and downsize like a lot of their larger and arguably better resourced competitors.  The challenges they face are not new, but they are clearly saying that little impact has been felt from state support initiatives, despite the best efforts of government.

SMEs are “engines of growth” accounting for up to 99 per cent of businesses and 40 to 50 per cent of GDP. Globally, 50 per cent of all jobs are generated by SMEs,  yet, in spite of this, they attract just a tiny proportion of overall investment across the G20.

Vieiria adds: “Entrepreneurial firms will need to remain nimble to navigate choppy waters and succeed. The lack of institutional support means that business owners will continue to increasingly favour flexible working in order to avoid lengthy leases and free up their working capital so they can concentrate on growing their business.”

“Already globally, more than half of entrepreneurs are using flexible working locations for most of the week, compared with 39 per cent for those that do not own their businesses.”