Key Learnings and Recommendations of the Credit Suisse – Swisscontact initiative

Entrepreneurial ecosystems
What are the key components of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems? And how do you influence and measure them?

These were some of the questions we asked ourselves in 2018 when we launched the Credit Suisse – Swisscontact initiative to promote entrepreneurship & innovation. Together with Credit Suisse and a group of local partners we aimed to contribute to creating better conditions for opportunity-driven entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies.

Approaches to analyse and strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems

Entrepreneurs do not exist in a vacuum. Just as it takes ‘a whole village to raise a child’, it takes a whole ecosystem to nurture, guide and enable successful entrepreneurs. However, such ecosystems are not always easy to capture. Usually, they are dynamic rather complex and always unique due to their local context.  Consequently, we started identifying best practices for the analysis of ecosystems and tested them in collaboration with local entrepreneurs in different geographies. We learnt why it is key and how it is possible to define indicators that reflect local conditions, are linked to realistic benchmarks and can be influenced by local actors. Through our work we also realized that the process of analysis is an important – but often missed – entry point for building relationships and strengthening ecosystems. This insight led us to reflect and investigate the more intangible components of an ecosystem – such as collaboration, culture and trust.

Among others, the tested and developed tools include Social Network Analysis to map the relationship between the system’s actors, the Ecosystem Health Check, which allows practitioners to better understand and monitor key components of their ecosystem – and the Building Trust Playbook, a basis for more intentional trust-building in communities.

Key learnings and recommendations summarised

In this document, Swisscontact has summarised key learnings and recommendations for future initiatives working in the area of entrepreneurial ecosystems. Among them:

  • why it is key to understand entrepreneurs as part of a wider system,
  • the value of light touch facilitation instead of fully fledged programmes,
  • why it matters who leads ecosystem building initiatives and
  • what ecosystem building has to do with your own trustworthiness.

The CSSC initiative contributed to a deeper understanding of the different dimensions of ecosystems and specifically the key characteristics of successful ecosystems. It provided guidance for ecosystem facilitators on the ground, as well as academia, policy makers and donors on ways to use existing quantitative data to measure and monitor different metrics within an ecosystem.

The Credit Suisse – Swisscontact Initiative to Promote Entrepreneurship & Innovation was financed by the Credit Suisse Foundation and was part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

2018 - 2022
Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda, Uganda
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
Credit Suisse - Swisscontact Initiative to promote entrepreneurship and innovation

The initiative serves to represent entrepreneurship and innovation in developing countries and emerging economies. Through skills transfer and cooperation, select private and public partner institutions work to enhance the economic and social significance of entrepreneurship, fostering entrepreneurial thinking and action.The initiative creates...