Entrepreneurs play an important role for economic growth and job creation in emerging markets. In line with our systems approach, Swisscontact understands entrepreneurs as part of a wider system and not as isolated actors. The usual starting point of an initiative within the area of entrepreneurial ecosystems is therefore appreciating and analysing the nuanced components, dependencies and conditions of ecosystems.
Swisscontact has recently tested two approaches:
In Uganda and Guatemala, we have conducted an ecosystem mapping – turning around the traditional approach of very structured and rigid engagement with stakeholders and instead focusing on deeper interactions to gain more nuanced information.
Mapping is a way to understand who is working in an ecosystem and what work they do. It is generally used to get a better understanding of the ecosystem by creating a map of interconnected relationships. But mapping can serve for so much more than that. It can be a tool to enable initiatives that strengthen the ecosystem. For example, in Uganda we leveraged our mapping exercise as a way to build and strengthen relationships between different ecosystem actors.
We learnt, conducting mapping like taking a census is a missed opportunity for ecosystem building. Instead of releasing a call through existing networks and guiding everyone through a standardized interview process with the map as an end product in mind the emphasis should be placed on the process, the connections and deeper insights that can be generated from a structured, human-centric and iterative mapping process. This is what is most likely to yield a stronger ecosystem in the long-term.
In this learning document, we present our lessons from a bottom-up approach to ecosystem mapping:
In collaboration with our local partner Amarin Financial Group, Swisscontact tested the ‘Give A Day’-initiative: A community-building tool that leverages common interests and mutual support to benefit the support organisations in an ecosystem – and the entrepreneurs they serve.
The initiative centers around the concept that trust is a key component of all healthy ecosystems – and that trust-building takes time. Bringing different actors in the same room can increase familiarity with each other and build trust.
It was co-created by actors in the wider entrepreneurial ecosystem within Kampala, Uganda and later replicated in Cambodia and Guatemala.
What are its key components and what do participants of Give A Day events say about their experience? We share our insights in this learning document:
The development of the Ecosystem Mapping and the Give A Day events and this learning documents was supported by the Credit Suisse – Swisscontact Initiative to Promote Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
The initiative is financed by the Credit Suisse Foundation and is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).