Track 3

Challenging inclusiveness and environmental sustainability in entrepreneurship promotion

Entrepreneurship promotion is often presented as an effective approach to ensure that all people, especially marginalized groups (women, refugees, youth, etc.) have an opportunity to start and run their own businesses and benefit from more inclusive markets and economic growth. More recently, entrepreneurship promotion has also assumed a key role in addressing environmental issues, developing “green” solutions and jobs and contributing to a “Green Economy Transition” (GET).

However, when looking closer at the metrics, which measure the impact of these approaches, one can challenge if said economic growth is based on unsustainable use of environmental resources, and if the jobs created are decent and are disproportionally benefiting advantaged groups, and widening the income distribution gap, excluding migrants, ethnic minorities and women.

In short, if we keep promoting entrepreneurship the way it is being done, are we contributing to the depletion of natural resources and to an unequal society?

The challenges

Can entrepreneurship promotion lead to inclusive economic growth and a more equitable repartition of value or are we perpetuating inequality?
Can entrepreneurship promotion contribute to environmentally sustainable solutions at scale or are we aggravating climate change ?

Entrepreneurship is often promoted by development actors and governments as a mean to activate the untapped potential of   women, youth, migrants, ethnic minorities and other marginalized groups to contribute to economic development, job creation, and to their own well-being.

However, data and experiences from the development sector seem to suggest that the expected positive impact is still to be seen. The high mortality rates of new and existing business among these groups as well as the low quality employment created by these business keeps people locked into vicious cycles of poverty and vulnerability. Doubts have for instance been risen on weather entrepreneurship promotion programmes for women have contributed to increase the pressure on their workload and households responsibilities without necessarily empowering them in contexts where labour market and access to resources and services remain controlled by men.

As such, can we still say that entrepreneurship promotion can still  lead to inclusive economic growth and a more equitable repartition of value or are we just perpetuating inequality? 

In the last decade, development actors, government and private sectors entities have multiplied entrepreneurship programmes and projects aiming at either stimulating business and job creation in “green” sectors (like renewable energy) or improving the environmental sustainability and climate change resilience of growing sectors. 

Several studies and political movements have however denounced the inefficiency of these ‘mild’ approaches  and have highlighted the need to completely abandon existing models of entrepreneurship and economic growth if we want have a chance to reverse climate change and the depletion of natural resources. Moreover, the progress made in the promotion of small-scale green enterprises might have little to no impact against the environmental footprint of large-scale enterprises who continue to do business as usual.       

As such, can entrepreneurship promotion contribute to environmentally sustainable solutions at scale or are we just aggravating climate change ? 

The solutions we are looking for

This track is about critically reflecting on these questions and about ways of doing entrepreneurship promotion differently to achieve more concrete impacts on equality and environmental sustainability. As such, we are looking for concrete solutions for entrepreneurship in either the area of inclusiveness or the environmental sustainability (or both), which we would like to discuss and promote at this conference.

The solutions we are looking for

  • Have a proven and measurable impact on inclusiveness/environmental sustainability.
  • Have been tested and piloted as part of project or initiative (they are not just ideas).
  • Have the potential to be scalable.

Whom is this for?

Practitioners from the entrepreneurship promotion sector who share our concerns and doubts or want to prove us wrong with mind-blowing solutions!