Entrepreneurship in Conflict Zones: the first report offering insight into the status-quo of entrepreneurship in Syria during conflict!
To sum up the results of five years of work to build an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem in Syria, I have put together data from a study examining and researching hundreds of Syrian entrepreneurs and experts.
The report draws on data from a study examining the views and experiences over a period of twelve months of research, during which 268 interviews were conducted with Syrians entrepreneurs. The study also included an open discussion and series of interviews with entrepreneurs experts as well as insights from local startups.
Prior to the conflict, few steps had been taken to assist the Syrian entrepreneurial ecosystem, which had real potential for growth. However, after 2011, startups have faced numerous challenges that restricted that potential.
The protracted war in Syria has exacerbated the challenges facing entrepreneurs working to create their startups. These challenges include: insecurity and political instability, scarcity of financial support, access to market limitation, collapsing infrastructure, sanctions, and payment restrictions, increasing economic burdens, dwindling human skills, diminishing of the market size, unfriendly regulatory environment, and a dysfunctional entrepreneurship education.
Since 2013, a slight recovery in terms of startups supporting new ideas and seed-focused entrepreneurs has taken place, led by a new generation of the community. Currently, there are more than 30 community entrepreneurial events, and many organizations are actively working to support Syrian entrepreneurs.
The study also shows significant improvement in the contributions of female entrepreneurs, which make up 22.4 percent as a natural outcome of the new role played by many women as chief breadwinners of the family, while many of the men have been forced to either flee or engage in the armed conflict.
Additionally, the report offers alternatives and solutions that could be considered in trying to overcome the obstacles posed by this lingering conflict and recommends that multiple players inside and outside the country contribute to improving entrepreneurs’ positions, as everyone has a role to play in this process.
The key message of this study is that policymakers and startup communities should start to consider assisting entrepreneurs in their endeavors to create businesses that take into consideration the public benefit. With proper upfront support and policies that are fair and available to everyone, entrepreneurs can yield substantial social and economic dividends.