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Shell LiveWIRE International Survey shows business confidence is high among young entrepreneurs

Fábio Lewin of Coco Legal

The global economic downturn may have caused financial upheaval and shaken businesses around the world but business confidence among young entrepreneurs remains high, according to a new survey by Shell LiveWIRE International, the leading international network to inspire and develop enterprise in young people.

The main highlights from the survey of 225 young entrepreneurs in 11 countries around the world are that:

  • Over one in three entrepreneurs said that their business confidence remained unchanged during the depths of the recession.
  • More than six in ten expect their businesses to perform either slightly or significantly better over the next 12 months.
  • Women are even more optimistic than men that their turnover and profits will rise over the next year.

More than one in three respondents said that their business confidence was unaffected during the depths of recession over the past 12 months, and although 22% said they became slightly less confident about their business’ prospects, a further 17% said that they became a lot more confident. Nearly half of respondents (47%) from South East Asia said that they had become more confident about their business’ prospects during the period and over a quarter of young entrepreneurs from Africa said that their business confidence had increased significantly.

Entrepreneurs are not totally immune from the global recession, however, and cited a “significant decline in demand” (by 17% of respondents) and “turnover falling below projected levels” (by 15% of respondents) as the two main ways in which they had been affected.

Looking ahead to the next 12 months, over six in ten respondents believe that their businesses will perform slightly or significantly better, with similar numbers forecasting a growth in demand for their products or services (by 62% of respondents), increased turnover (by 62% of respondents), and rising profits (by 58% of respondents). Entrepreneurs from Africa were the most optimistic, with over three in four (77%) saying that they believe their businesses will perform better over the next 12 months.

Given the current economic climate, entrepreneurs see the introduction of new products and services (by 21% of respondents), and the development of new markets at home (by 15% of respondents) as being the two biggest opportunities for their businesses. Entrepreneurs from Asia and South East Asia placed a greater emphasis on developing new markets overseas than their counterparts elsewhere.

However, entrepreneurs are still watchful of the effects of the global recession, and they highlight reduced demand (by 19% of respondents), and late payment (by 16% of respondents) as the two greatest risks facing their businesses during the current economic climate. Entrepreneurs from Africa said that difficulty in securing finance was their greatest threat, whilst those from Asia said that their biggest problem was increased operating costs.

Job creation is also on the agenda for many respondents over the next 12 months, and whilst 70% of respondents expect their staffing levels to remain the same, of the 30% who say that their employment levels will change, eight in ten expect to take on more staff.

Business confidence among male and female entrepreneurs is about the same with just over a third of women (35%) and just under a third of men (32%) saying that their business confidence improved over the past 12 months. Women are, however, even more optimistic than men that their turnover, profits and demand for their products and services will rise over the next 12 months.

One young entrepreneur who typifies the optimism revealed by the survey is Fábio Lewin from Brazil who runs Coco Legal, an agribusiness that produces totally natural coconut water. Said Fábio, “The recession hasn’t affected my business. We’ve made improvements to the product and have taken the quality of it onto another level, which has left our competitors way behind. I am very optimistic for our prospects during the coming year, and I will continue to invest in new machinery to improve our production capacity. It is the year to grow even further.”

Jamie Murray Wells from the UK, who runs Glasses Direct, the largest direct-seller of glasses in the world, is equally bullish about his business saying, “My business is performing well at the moment. We offer eyewear at much lower prices than high street outlets, and ultimately people are looking to save money wherever possible, especially in this tough economic climate.”

Karen Bellis of Shell LiveWIRE International is not surprised at the survey’s findings saying, “Entrepreneurs tend to be highly motivated and have immense belief in their business, which gives them the incredible drive to pursue their dreams with great optimism even through the most difficult of times.

“They are often quick to spot and seize new opportunities, which can give them a competitive edge, so, it’s not surprising to learn that many of the people we surveyed see the introduction of new products and the development of new markets as the biggest opportunities for them over the next 12 months.

“Building on its 27 year track record, Shell LiveWIRE is playing a key role in supporting young entrepreneurs around the world through these difficult times, ranging from helping them to develop robust business plans, to providing access to a wealth of advice, information and support from a unique global social network of over 100,000 young entrepreneurs.” 


 

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