Med-region entrepreneurs stress need for startup system

BARCELONA, Spain : Entrepreneurs attending a Mediterranean economic conference in Barcelona Thursday urged political leaders in the region to create a sustainable startup ecosystem in order to reduce youth unemployment.

Speaking at the 10th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders conference, entrepreneurs said that many countries in the region lack functioning startup ecosystems to reduce youth unemployment and support economic growth.

They agreed that there is an urgent need in the region to promote a culture of entrepreneurship and create a sustainable startup ecosystem.

"In my culture, parents usually want their children to be a doctor or work in public service. When my father learned I was going to open a business, he gave me an icy look," said Elias Ghanem, an entrepreneurship expert from Lebanon.

Ghanem said that entrepreneurs in the region face many local challenges such as no ecosystems, not enough legislation, and a lack of financing and mentors.

"If you are an entrepreneur in my country, you will struggle with the infrastructure like the Internet, electricity and roads," he said.

- Going international

Ghanem told audiences that expanding young businesses from the region to overseas is big challenge.

"You need a visa. Internationalize your business with a Mediterranean background. It is difficult to compete with your counterparts from other regions ...Good luck," he added.

Entrepreneurs from the region will help foster job creation and employment opportunities, said Marika Huber, director of the Mediterranean Bank Network.

"Entrepreneurship education will strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem and provide young people with the knowledge and skills they need to own their financial success," Huber said.

Low entrepreneurial spirit and many local challenges can dampen the growth of entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean region, entrepreneurs at the conference warned.

They agreed that the issue of employment, including opening one's own business, is one of the central problems facing the countries of the Mediterranean.

Urgent reforms to meet young entrepreneurs' expectations, encourage an entrepreneurial spirit and support sustainable economic growth are the crucial new challenges for the countries of the Mediterranean, they said.

The three-day leaders' forum is co-organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME), the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in collaboration with the European Institute of the Mediterranean and other prominent regional and international organizations.

Anadolu Agency is the event's Global Communication Partner. This is the second time the agency is participating in the event.

Source: Anadolu Agency