Avia Collinder, Business Writer
Jamaicans are less afraid of business failure and more willing to risk starting new businesses, a new survey has found.
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2011 survey shows that those fearful of starting new businesses dropped from 33 per cent to 29 per cent.
But it also found that more entrepreneurs prefer retail to making stuff; and that both new and established businesses showed declines in activity in the last year.
According to the report, more Jamaicans, on average, exhibited less fear of failure than individuals in the top two tiers of developed nations, and even a much lower rate than the average for all factor-driven economies. Jamaica is classified among the latter.
GEM notes that Jamaica once attained efficiency ranking but fell into the factor-driven group in 2009, according to local lead researcher Girjanauth Boodraj. Factor-driven, or economies-based on-extraction industries, is the lowest tier, below efficiency driven. The top tier of the three ranks is innovation-driven economies.
GEM results are based on a National Expert Survey which in 2011 comprised 36 individuals and an Adult Population Survey comprising 2,047 households.
Sixty-four per cent of early-stage business activity (TEA) was in consumer-oriented enterprises, compared to 53 per cent for established businesses (EB).
GEM 2011 indicates that 13.7 per cent of entrepreneurial activity was largely opportunity-driven.
"With regard to the types of industries in which entrepreneurs were involved, the retail trade, hotels and restaurants continued to be the industry of choice for entrepreneurs both at the early-stage (57.5 per cent) and established business (48 per cent) levels," said the GEM report.
"This was followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing industries, with 18.8 per cent for TEAs and 30.6 per cent for EBs."
The Jamaican report's findings were presented last Wednesday at the Technology Innovation Centre at the University of Technology (UTech) in St Andrew.
However, unlike the retail trade where TEA exceeded established business, it was the opposite in agriculture, where there was greater participation of EBs in this sector and its related industries.
Entrepreneurial participation in the other industries lagged way behind these two types, the report indicates.
Researchers were not impressed by the penchant for retail among new entrepreneurs.
Boodraj, who is based at UTech's School of Business and Management, said policymakers should be fostering high-growth firms which make use of technology and which can provide better jobs.
"The ease of pursuing entrepre-neurial opportunities needs to be addressed as well as opportunities to create truly high-growth firms," said Boodraj.
"High-growth firms have the potential to change the economic fortunes of Jamaica. The conditions which are necessary to facilitate the creation of high-growth firms in Jamaica need to be explored. The universities, Government and the private sector need to play a role in this regard."
Both men and women are inclined to launch into business, the researchers found, but men tended to be more entrepre-neurial in their pursuits while women chose areas of necessity.
"Eighty-one per cent of working-age Jamaicans agreed with the statement that most people in the country consider starting a business as a desirable career choice. Entrepreneurship as a career path is highly recognised and applauded in the small-island state. Indeed, much status is accorded to successful Jamaican entrepreneurs as 83 per cent in the 18-64 age group supported the statement that in their country, successful entrepreneurs receive a high status," the report stated.
It also notes the "cultural anomaly" where individual success is lauded while entrepreneurial risk-taking, creativity and innovativeness are not well supported.
"This scenario is a recipe for frustration of individuals who wish to be successful but are not accorded the level of support from the national culture when they embark on entrepreneurial adventures," the GEM report said.