The disadvantaged can succeed in business

OECD Observer Business brief
Managing Partner, ONLYGLASS GMBH
"Social perception is a prerequisite for a level playing field among all entrepreneurs."






Reinhard Cordes
Managing Partner

A promising policy to increase employment and foster social inclusion is the promotion of business creation by the disadvantaged. The potential residing amidst disadvantaged groups such as women, seniors, youth, migrants, unemployed or people with disabilities is enormous. Several methods are available to make this potential a reality. 

In many countries, such as Germany, where an ageing population is becoming a problem, the participation of the disadvantaged in the business world presents a solution. Some of these people have high qualifications–it is a waste not to capitalise on them because their integration into economic activity is relatively more difficult.

In many countries, such as Germany, where an ageing population is becoming a problem, the participation of the disadvantaged in the business world presents a solution. Some of these people have high qualifications–it is a waste not to capitalise on them because their integration into economic activity is relatively more difficult.

There are several factors needed to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of the disadvantaged. Of course, policymakers must provide stable political and legal conditions, as well as a positive climate in society towards entrepreneurs. This social perception is the principal prerequisite for a level playing field among all entrepreneurs. Furthermore, disadvantaged groups need special financial support to build confidence in their business ideas for their realisation.

Two factors, confidence and motivation, decide whether a person creates their own business. Therefore, policymakers must concentrate on how to motivate the disadvantaged to join the entrepreneurial world. Schools and universities should surely be a focus as they have a direct influence on potential candidates. Indeed, universities have the possibility of educating future entrepreneurs in a targeted manner. Television, radio and social media as opinion formers could also be a great support.

Businesses start with an idea. Through partnerships with universities, these ideas can be refined and successfully implemented. This is one reason why German start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises repeatedly succeed in generating outstanding innovations and introducing these into world markets that are dominated by large corporations. The exchange of ideas and monetary support for research and development (R&D) motivate the entrepreneurial spirit. Thus, the disadvantaged can also be encouraged to start their own businesses.

Furthermore, start-ups can be supported by sponsorships from fellow business people who have solidified their market positions. The sponsorship can be financial, such as through equity funding. In addition, management consultancy can be a valuable resource for novices. Business risks are then reduced and the chances of reaching a break-even point are increased.
During the OECD Forum 2014 (, one participant had an interesting suggestion. Organisations such as the OECD could play a key role in promoting disadvantaged entrepreneurs by, for example, creating an internet forum where potential entrepreneurs could post their ideas and solicit assistance. Investors who find the ideas convincing could get in touch with these entrepreneurs and support them. The OECD could even offer an award for promising ideas as an added attraction. Entrepreneurs’ motivation and confidence would rise tremendously. The newly founded enterprises would evolve into the next generation of SMEs forming the new backbone of national economies.






©OECD Observer No 299, Q2 2014

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