Which are the best countries in the world for entrepreneurs in 2022?

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This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sreevas Sahasranamam, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Strathclyde, Aileen Ionescu-Somers, Executive Director and a GEM 2021/2022 Global Report author, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Stephen Hill, Professor Emeritus and Lead Author of the GEM 2021/2022 Global Report, Sohar University, Oman & Alicia Coduras Martinez, National Expert Survey Coordinator, GEM


  • The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s 2022 report assesses the conditions for entrepreneurs in 50 countries worldwide.
  • This year, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, and Finland rank at the top of the list of best countries for entrepreneurs.
  • Governments can encourage entrepreneurship by helping start-ups in emergencies such as the pandemic, and supporting women entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship depends upon the social and political conditions in which it operates. These can encourage or constrain a new business and have an impact on its growth into a more established enterprise that generates incomes and jobs. For instance, research has highlighted the importance of the rule of law and education systems in encouraging entrepreneurship.

Each year, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) presents its comparative assessment of national entrepreneurial conditions. The aim of this is to rank countries in terms of their ability to encourage new businesses. The results should be of interest to policymakers and entrepreneurs alike.

The GEM 2021/22 report includes a comprehensive National Expert Survey (NES). The NES captures the perspectives of over 2,000 relevant experts (a minimum of 36 per country) across the 50 participating countries, about the conditions governing entrepreneurship in their country.

The table below shows the 13 Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions through which GEM assesses how well each country supports entrepreneurship. GEM produces its National Entrepreneurial Context Index (NECI) by averaging the scores from these 13 conditions.

GEM produces its National Entrepreneurial Context Index (NECI) by averaging the scores from these 13 conditions.
GEM produces its National Entrepreneurial Context Index (NECI) by averaging the scores from these 13 conditions. Image: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

Not surprisingly, high-income economies perform better than middle- and low-income economies on the NECI scores. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the highest NECI score of 6.8, emerges as the best place to start a new business in 2022, followed by the Netherlands, Finland, Saudi Arabia, and Lithuania.

The UAE has the highest total score by a clear margin, having improved in 11 of the 13 framework conditions since 2020, and scoring highest of all economies in four of them. This could be due to a combination of reasons, including the country hosting high-profile entrepreneurship promotion events like Expo 2020.

Meanwhile in Lithuania, a series of policy initiatives focused on entrepreneurship in the last two decades (e.g. the law on social enterprises). The table below illustrates the overall ranking of countries based on the NECI scores, both in terms of the highest and lowest country rankings.

Best countries for entrepreneurs in 2022

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the highest NECI score of 6.8
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is first, with the highest NECI score of 6.8 Image: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

GEM tracks the NECI on an annual basis, and a comparison of data across 2019, 2020, and 2021 shows a general improvement in entrepreneurship conditions in most countries, despite the global pandemic. Of the 35 countries that participated in the NES for each of the three years, the highest increases were in Saudi Arabia (from 5.0 in 2019 to 6.1 in 2021), the UAE (from 5.8 to 6.8), and the Republic of Korea (from 5.1 to 5.7).

There are just two economies whose NECI scores fell for both years: Qatar (5.9 to 5.5) and Luxembourg (5.2 to 4.9). The chart below compares NECI scores each year for the 35 countries.

There has been a general improvement in entrepreneurship conditions in most countries, despite the global pandemic
There has been a general improvement in entrepreneurship conditions in most countries, despite the global pandemic. Image: Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

What can governments do to encourage entrepreneurship?

At least four of the 13 framework conditions are the direct responsibility of national governments. However, these are not the conditions typically rated highest by national experts. This is an excellent opportunity for policymakers to instigate change and promote entrepreneurship by focusing on improvements.

It is no coincidence that the economies scoring highest for government efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on new start-ups (Saudi Arabia), or for supporting women entrepreneurs (UAE), are also economies that have seen consistent and substantial improvements in their overall NECI scores in recent years.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the gender gap?

The World Economic Forum has been measuring gender gaps since 2006 in the annual Global Gender Gap Report.

The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.

These accelerators have been convened in ten countries across three regions. Accelerators are established in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, and Panama in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank in Latin America and the Caribbean, Egypt and Jordan in the Middle East and North Africa, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

All Country Accelerators, along with Knowledge Partner countries demonstrating global leadership in closing gender gaps, are part of a wider ecosystem, the Global Learning Network, that facilitates exchange of insights and experiences through the Forum’s platform.

In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.

In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.

If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator countries you can join the local membership base.

If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.

Similarly, economies scoring worst on these measures also tend to have high numbers of conditions rated as insufficient: Israel (9), Turkey (11), and Iran (11). In general, GEM research reveals that supporting new businesses during hard times – such as during the COVID-19 pandemic – and supporting women entrepreneurs, should be key components in a strategy to promote entrepreneurship, enabling it to flourish and make its full and valuable contribution to economic development and growth.

Unsurprisingly, schools would be a good place to start – education is a “low-hanging fruit” for policymakers. Of the 13 ecosystem conditions tracked, entrepreneurial education at school was rated last in 39 of the 50 economies participating in the National Expert Survey in GEM 2021.

A focus on improving these scores could be a relatively low-cost, but high-impact, means of enhancing the entrepreneurial environment, ultimately adding to jobs, and incomes, and generating high value for countries on multiple fronts.

Comments

  1. Of course, a great deal of countries have better entrepreneurial conditions and this is due to many different factors, but it is really important to analyze them in order to understand the root of the problem. I can say that all these Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions have a paramount importance for developing business activity and I think that it is essential to work on each point in order to see notable results. From my point of view, a government’s low level of support and promotions of startups is a really inhibiting factor. If the government pays attention to novice entrepreneurs, they will feel more confident and motivated, which is really important. Of course, primarily, it’s necessary to eliminate gender gaps because it is so widespread in our world and it is impossible to have decent entrepreneurial conditions with the infringement of women.

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