Entrepreneurs do not exist in a vacuum. Just as it takes ‘a whole village to raise a child’, it takes a whole ecosystem to nurture, guide and enable successful entrepreneurs. However, such ecosystems are not always easy to capture. Usually, they are dynamic rather complex and always unique due to their local context. Consequently, we started identifying best practices for the analysis of ecosystems and tested them in collaboration with local entrepreneurs in different geographies. We learnt why it is key and how it is possible to define indicators that reflect local conditions, are linked to realistic benchmarks and can be influenced by local actors. Through our work we also realized that the process of analysis is an important – but often missed – entry point for building relationships and strengthening ecosystems. This insight led us to reflect and investigate the more intangible components of an ecosystem – such as collaboration, culture and trust.
Among others, the tested and developed tools include Social Network Analysis to map the relationship between the system’s actors, the Ecosystem Health Check, which allows practitioners to better understand and monitor key components of their ecosystem – and the Building Trust Playbook, a basis for more intentional trust-building in communities.
In this document, Swisscontact has summarised key learnings and recommendations for future initiatives working in the area of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Among them:
The CSSC initiative contributed to a deeper understanding of the different dimensions of ecosystems and specifically the key characteristics of successful ecosystems. It provided guidance for ecosystem facilitators on the ground, as well as academia, policy makers and donors on ways to use existing quantitative data to measure and monitor different metrics within an ecosystem.
The Credit Suisse – Swisscontact Initiative to Promote Entrepreneurship & Innovation was financed by the Credit Suisse Foundation and was part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).