Inclusive Entrepreneurship

Charlene Lambert, WBII PresidentAs the pandemic works its way around the world, with subsequent and successive job losses and financial repercussions, it’s helpful to remind ourselves that entrepreneurship can offer a true ‘window of opportunity’ for those who are in need.

Where few or no jobs are available, starting one’s own business can be an option to help bridge the gap, either temporarily or over the longer term, to use our knowledge and skills, and create new income-generating opportunities. With more employment tasks now being offered on a contract basis, and people working from home, WBII members in particular know and understand first-hand the benefits of entrepreneurship.

Inclusive Entrepreneurship defined

The European Commission uses the term ‘Inclusive Entrepreneurship’ to describe policies and programmes that “…aim to ensure that all people, regardless of their personal characteristics and background, have an opportunity to start and run their own businesses”. It further explains that entrepreneurship can also help to strengthen inclusion and solve societal problems, through offering new potential sources of income.

Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, and the EU in general, where only about 33% of the self-employed are women, we still have a long way to go to ensure that everyone who wants or needs to start a business can do so. This is particularly important in technical fields, where the numbers are much lower, and where society is missing the important ideas and contributions that women can make to bring new, innovative products and services onto the market. In addition to women, Inclusive Entrepreneurship also focuses on groups such as youth, migrants and minorities, seniors and people with disabilities.

Policy Tool

In 2018, a Better Entrepreneurship Tool was developed by the European Commission, in collaboration with the OECD, to help ensure that policy makers at all levels of government, and in the private sector, are aware of the steps that they can take to support inclusive entrepreneurship. By offering guidance notes and inspiring case studies to support better policy design, the tool also helps to make sure that people who are in the inclusive categories are aware of their potential, and can be motivated to pursue a business of their own. Furthermore, it looks to address the barriers that affect their success.

To learn more about the tool, and try it out, please visit:

Inclusive Entrepreneurship Diagram

New SME Strategy

Recently I learned that the Province of South Holland is working on developing a new SME strategy, and I have taken the opportunity to share the Better Entrepreneurship Tool with them. At the same time, and as part of the WBII’s advocacy programme, I also shared the tool with the City of The Hague, and the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

With the pre-COVID-19 situation up in the air, and everything on the table, this is a perfect opportunity to reassess the current situation and improve it, using, among other things, the new Tool. In these difficult, higher-unemployment times, governments should be particularly interested in Inclusive Entrepreneurship, and be making sure that they are doing all that they can to support innovation and employment for all.

Network associations such as the WBII, provide an important and essential service to guide entrepreneurs. When considering the bigger picture, it would be great to know that the necessary programmes to ensure education and training, financial assistance, access to networks, work-life balance, pensions, and other important policies and programmes to enable ‘Inclusive Entrepreneurship for all’ were in place and that they function as they should.