Repairing the ‘institutional voids’ – mobile entrepreneurship report with Vimplecom

We’ve been working with Vimplecom on understanding the role mobile operators play in supporting nascent entrepreneur ecosystems, and the report we wrote with them is published today.  We’re pleased to have been able to partner with them to explore where the ‘institutional voids’ are in some markets that mean it’s hard to support young entrepreneurs.

We discovered some great projects in the course of the research, from Djezzy in Algeria running programmes to support the entrepreneurial activities of the North African ‘youth bulge’ to banglalink in Bangladesh who had unprecedented response to the competition to find the next generation of digital entrepreneurs.

Most of all, it’s the small details and decisions made in some of these projects we found the most compelling.  For instance, WIND in Italy forged a partnership with the LUISS Enlabs to host an incubator in Rome.  The location was chosen above Rome railway station, to make it easier for the many commuters who regularly travel between Milan and Rome to participate in events and access the entrepreneurs – and vice-versa.

It’s these small things – placing entrepreneurs where there is a high chance of engaging with existing businesses – that will make accelerators and incubators successful, more than tech grants or the many other things that people throw at projects.  Subtle, considered, sensible interactions with the local infrastructure and business culture are needed.  There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and the Silicon Valley approach is not directly exportable as a model.