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Guidance note Fostering an inclusive entrepreneurial culture

1.1. Entrepreneurship is promoted widely in society.

Awareness campaigns should seek to develop positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship and stimulate entrepreneurial intentions across the population, ensuring these campaigns are relevant for a wide range of people. Tailored campaigns should be designed for specific sub-groups to complement broader efforts. Key activities in awareness campaigns for inclusive entrepreneurship include disseminating positive messages in the media, organising outreach and awareness events, and using awards and success stories to celebrate successful entrepreneurs with various backgrounds.

Inclusive entrepreneurship policies and programmes may be ineffective if large sections of the population do not consider business ownership as a viable career choice.  Negative socio-cultural perceptions about entrepreneurship can be a significant barrier to business creation and undermine the impact of entrepreneurship policy and support. Fostering a culture that values entrepreneurship is, therefore, essential to the success of enterprise policy and support.

Policies that promote inclusive entrepreneurship broadly seek to: (1) create positive attitudes towards business creation as a career choice for people from groups that are under-represented or disadvantaged in entrepreneurship (e.g. youth, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, traveller communities and the unemployed); (2) foster entrepreneurial intentions among people from groups that are under-represented or disadvantaged in entrepreneurship. They can also be used to mobilise the key stakeholders in the region or country (e.g. entrepreneurs, chambers of commerce, business development support providers) to work together to communicate a positive image of entrepreneurship.

Inclusive entrepreneurship awareness campaigns typically include one or more of the following activities:

  • Delivery of positive messages in the media, including television, radio, social media, blogs, newspapers and magazines.
  • Outreach, awareness events and conferences at national, regional and local levels (e.g. Entrepreneurship Week) in collaboration with relevant stakeholders (e.g. business associations, chambers of commerce, professional associations, and community groups). Such events could include information and career fairs, forums and summits on business opportunities, including in specific economic sectors or on specific business models, such as micro-franchising.
  • Creation of Ambassador networks, which actively promote entrepreneurship through informal (e.g. word-of-mouth during daily activities) and formal channels (e.g. keynote speeches).
  • Public celebration of inclusive entrepreneurship role models through entrepreneurship awards and the promotion of success stories.
  • Support for private sector-led initiatives, including business associations and entrepreneurship networks.

Each of these activities should seek to deliver positive messages that:

  • Highlight the value of entrepreneurship to society;
  • Address negative cultural biases towards entrepreneurs from groups that are typically under-represented or disadvantaged in entrepreneurship;
  • Raise awareness about different forms of entrepreneurship (e.g. part-time, social entrepreneurship);
  • Raise awareness of public sector support programmes; and
  • Stimulate private sector-led initiatives.

The objectives of awareness campaigns need to fit the context in the region or country. If there is little history of promoting entrepreneurship, a general campaign that speaks to the entire population (with diverse profiles in mind) is likely to have a greater overall impact than a campaign that is tailored to specific target groups. However, if there have already been general information and promotion campaigns, a more targeted approach would increase the likelihood of reaching the hard-to-reach populations. Also, targeted campaigns should be used when there is a clear rationale for reaching out to a specific population.

When promoting entrepreneurship in society, policy makers should:

  • Use inspiring success stories and role models to promote entrepreneurship as a viable activity for a wide range of profiles and a variety of activities, e.g. part-time businesses, innovative growth-oriented businesses, etc.
  • Use positive messages to highlight the potential of entrepreneurship in terms of economic contributions, innovation, job creation, etc.
  • Use the education system to promote entrepreneurship for a wide range of people.
  • Highlight the potential of entrepreneurship for people who experience multiple disadvantages who typically face greater challenges in the labour market.
1.2. Entrepreneurship is promoted to different profiles of under-represented and disadvantaged groups.

Target populations of inclusive entrepreneurship campaigns are heterogeneous so awareness campaigns should include tailored messages that are delivered through appropriate channels. Common approaches used include promoting success stories and role models and using awards to inspire entrepreneurs by showcasing different profiles of entrepreneurs and different types of entrepreneurship activities. When delivering entrepreneurship campaigns, it is important to partner with organisations that have direct contact with specific communities that work with different groups of the population.

Population segments are typically heterogeneous despite having common characteristics such as age or gender. Entrepreneurship promotion activities can be more effective if they are tailored to and targeted at a specific sub-population since there will be variation in motivations and intentions. Other issues such as accessibility of support must also be considered and highlighted when appropriate.

Awareness campaigns should seek to demonstrate that entrepreneurship is feasible for many members of the target groups and inspire them with positive messages. For example, the approach by the Promotion of Immigrant Entrepreneurship (PEI) in promoting entrepreneurship in Portugal reaches out to immigrants, particularly female migrants and migrants with below average living standards.

Case study:  The Promotion of Immigrant Entrepreneurship (PEI), Portugal

The project ‘Promotion of Immigrant Entrepreneurship’ ran from 1 April 2009 to 30 May 2014 and aimed to improve the integration of immigrants, especially women and those living in distressed neighbourhoods. It supported business creation and self-employment through training and personalised coaching in developing business ideas and building businesses.

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An important tool for promoting entrepreneurship for specific population groups is the promotion of success stories and role models. It is critical that successful entrepreneurs from the awareness campaign’s target population are showcased to demonstrate that everyone can be successful in entrepreneurship, including entrepreneurs with different profiles from within the target population (e.g. part-time entrepreneurs, service businesses, technology businesses). Success stories and role models are likely to have a greater impact if the target audience can relate to them. In other words, the success stories and role models should not have a level of success that is “unreachable” for most people. The identification of inspiring success stories and role models can be done through ad hoc methods or systematically through award programmes or competitions.

Another popular method of promoting and raising awareness about entrepreneurship is through awards, which can be targeted at specific population groups. Awards can have several functions. First, they can showcase role models to inspire others with similar characteristics and backgrounds. Second, they publicly recognise success, offering motivation to entrepreneurs and promoting their businesses. This can also improve access to networks and finance as well as new customers and markets. Third, some awards provide cash prizes or other business development services (e.g. professional consulting, introduction to investors).

Entrepreneurship awards are a relatively low-cost policy intervention and are often done in partnership with or led by the private sector and/or non-governmental organisations. Entrepreneurship awards can take several forms including: (1) competition-based awards where entrepreneurs nominate themselves and their business for a cash-prize; (2) positive role-model / publicity awards with, or without, a cash-prize where entrepreneurs and businesses are nominated by others for their accomplishments. The key design issues for inclusive entrepreneurship awards are:

  • Type of award: What type of entrepreneurship award can help accomplish the objectives of inclusive entrepreneurship policy? Does the award aim to reward existing entrepreneurs or to stimulate business creation among potential entrepreneurs? Does the award target a specific sector (e.g. manufacturing) or activity (e.g. social innovation)? Is there a cash-prize or some other type of prize attached to the award?
  • Eligibility and award criteria:  Is the entrepreneurship award open to all entrepreneurs or does it target entrepreneurs from a narrow population segment (e.g. young female entrepreneurs)? Is the award aimed at entrepreneurs in particular sectors? What are the criteria for winning?
  • Partnerships: Are businesses and organisations from private and voluntary sector, including media organisations, involved in sponsoring the award? Has the award been communicated through relevant channels to reach the potential award-nominees from the target groups? Have suitable judges from the business community been chosen to support the initiative?  Have the appropriate media channels been informed?
  • Integrated support: Should the award be linked to entrepreneurship training, business development support, or an entrepreneurship event?
  • Media coverage: Have appropriate media outlets been engaged in developing, promoting and delivering the awards? Is there a plan to ensure media coverage for the winners?

To be effective, awareness campaigns need to use appropriate outreach mechanisms to reach the targeted populations. One common method is to partner with organisations (e.g. chambers of commerce, business associations) that already work with the target group to leverage their established relationship.

When promoting entrepreneurship to different profiles of the population, policy makers should:

  • Partner with public employment services and organisations that already work with specific communities because they can effectively communicate with that population.
  • Use different channels for reaching different population segments. For example, the education system will be an important method for reaching youth enrolled in university and community organisations can be leveraged to reach groups such as recent immigrants.  Outreach can also be done through local chambers of commerce, public employment services and non-governmental organisations.
  • Deliver positive messages through media that are well-used by the targeted groups, including traditional media (TV, printed press), online platforms and social media.
  • Recognise that entrepreneurship may not be a suitable activity for some members of the population.

1.3. Targeted campaigns promote entrepreneurship by under-represented and disadvantaged groups to key role models.

Key role models have an important role in informing about entrepreneurship and encouraging (or discouraging) entrepreneurship activities. Policy makers, therefore, also need to reach them with information packages and positive messages. To support entrepreneurship, it is important to reach the key role models such as successful entrepreneurs from various groups, parents and teachers.

To encourage entrepreneurship and increase the level of business creation by people from groups that are under-represented or disadvantaged in entrepreneurship (e.g. youth, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, the unemployed), policy makers should launch initiatives that promote entrepreneurship to key role models for these groups, including parents, teachers, community leaders, social workers, clubs and associations, and peers.

This can be accomplished by developing information packages with positive messages about entrepreneurship to these role models. Role models can have an important influence on potential entrepreneurs’ interest in starting a business, both positively and negatively. Entrepreneurial role models fulfil a number of functions: (1) inspiration and motivation; (2) increasing self-efficacy; (3) learning by example; and (4) learning by support. Research confirms that role models can have a significant and positive impact on entrepreneurial career intention. It is, therefore, important for policy makers to ensure that these role models are aware of the requirements and opportunities of entrepreneurship so that they can encourage it when they feel that it is appropriate.

To promote inclusive entrepreneurship to key role model groups within a particular region, country or network, policy makers should use a range of communication and outreach methods:

  • Identify and promote success stories in different media, including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines and social media.
  • Develop network links with different public and private actors, including local government, chambers of commerce, business associations and community organisations, to identify and promote success stories.
  • Develop information brochures to be distributed in public centres and events and by public employment services.

When promoting entrepreneurship to role models for the population, policy makers should:

  • Use successful entrepreneurs and well known people from various groups of the population to promote positive messages about entrepreneurship.
  • Showcase the benefits of entrepreneurship with success stories.
  • Raise awareness about entrepreneurship through platforms that are most likely to attract specific members of the population, e.g. online platforms, social media and public events featuring recognised entrepreneurs.

Inform educators, career advisers and frontline staff in employment services about the potential of entrepreneurship for people from various backgrounds.

1.4. Formal education builds positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship.

Formal education presents an opportunity to promote entrepreneurship to a large number of youth and young adults. To be effective, teachers need training on entrepreneurship and also need to understand the potential that it can hold for different population groups. Moreover, teaching material should showcase a wide range of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship activities. It is important that entrepreneurship is promoted through both formal and informal education activities.

Entrepreneurship education has an important role in building positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs. This is particularly important among children and young people in primary, secondary and higher education.  Educational institutions can help promote entrepreneurship to students and young adults, creating awareness about its potential as a career option. It can also help create an acceptance of entrepreneurship activities by people from under-represented and disadvantaged groups (e.g. youth, seniors, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, the unemployed).

Educators can promote entrepreneurship by placing distinct emphasis at different levels of education and careers, as appropriate to the individual needs and development:

  • Primary level: The aim is to increase awareness about entrepreneurship as a career option for diverse people and to develop basic knowledge, skills and attitudes that encourage entrepreneurial behaviour. Examples of initiatives at this level include classroom visits by local entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds to speak about their business or taking students to spend a day with local businesses to watch and learn about their day-to-day work. 
  • Secondary level: The focus should be more on the delivery of specific technical skills, involving active learning and real-life situations. Students can, for example, set up a simulation or a real business to learn about business planning and how to access start-up finance.
  • University level: At this stage, entrepreneurship is integrated within traditional subject teaching. Additionally, students should gain the basic skills for starting and operating a business and to learn about the value of networks through a range of extra-curricular activities, including networking events, business plan competitions and group-run start-up businesses.
  • Career transitions: People looking to change their employment position in their working lives should be able to engage with relevant entrepreneurship training courses, involving case studies and receive advice.

Entrepreneurship education can be an effective tool for raising awareness about entrepreneurship because it can reach a large number of people. While including entrepreneurship in the mandatory curricula across all levels of education can help ensure this reach, supporting extra-curricular activities (e.g. clubs) can help make entrepreneurship more tangible. This reinforces a positive image of entrepreneurship.

At all levels, it is important that teachers receive entrepreneurship training so that they understand it and are equipped to deliver an engaging and relevant programme. This would require the inclusion of basic entrepreneurship training in teacher training programmes, as well as offering professional development training for teachers. This can also be supported with entrepreneurship conferences (e.g. the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship’s Enterprise Education Conference) and good practice exchange platforms. To support inclusive entrepreneurship, educators need to understand the potential biases that can be reinforced by training programmes (e.g. that entrepreneurship is only technology related).

In addition, policy makers need to ensure that teaching material is consistent with inclusive entrepreneurship policies. Course books and lessons should show people with different backgrounds involved in different types of entrepreneurship activities.

When building positive attitudes about entrepreneurship through formal education, policy makers should:

  • Include entrepreneurship education in the mandatory curricula at all levels.
  • Train teachers on entrepreneurship so that they have a positive view of it.
  • Ensure that both curricular and extra-curricular activities are available and used to help inspire potential entrepreneurs.
  • Showcase entrepreneurs from all backgrounds (i.e. people of different ages, gender, ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities, immigrants, etc.) in learning materials.
  • Inform people on courses that entrepreneurship may not be suitable for everyone.

1.5. Monitoring and evaluation are used to assess the impact of entrepreneurship promotion activities for under-represented and disadvantaged groups.

Monitoring and evaluation are an important part of the policy development process. These activities are often contracted out to leverage specialised knowledge and to maintain the impression of impartiality. When evaluating the impact of awareness campaigns for entrepreneurship, it is important to collect qualitative information through interviews with different communities in the population to complement metrics on business creation.

The policy development process should include monitoring and evaluation to measure progress against the objectives and targets. Policy makers should want to understand what works, what does not work and to ensure that lessons can be learned and shared with others.

Basic monitoring is done with key performance indicators (KPIs) by programme or project managers. KPIs measure progress of a policy or project against the objectives and targets. Indicators can be grouped into three main types:

  1. Impact (i.e. changes in the problem or other outcomes of concern);
  2. Cost-effectiveness (i.e. costs for a given level of impact); and
  3. Net Benefits (i.e. all beneficial impacts minus all costly impacts).

Mid-term and ex-post evaluations can help identify the ways in which the policy can be improved or developed to increase its impact. These evaluations are typically undertaken by external experts to ensure independence and objectivity. Such evaluations should be built into the policy design process from the outset. Furthermore, the lessons learned from evaluations should be available and accessible to other policy makers in order to share good practice.

Effective policy evaluation should include several features. It should be systematic and analytical, focussed on actual effects and provide judgement of the level of success. Moreover, they should aim to improve decision making, help resource allocation, enhance accountability and bring about organisational learning. Six principles for good evaluation practices can be highlighted:

  1. Evaluation should lead to policy change;
  2. Evaluation should be part of the policy debate;
  3. Evaluators should be “in at the start”;
  4. Evaluation techniques should always use the most appropriate methodology;
  5. Evaluation should apply to all policies and programmes; and
  6. International comparisons should be made where necessary.

The process of policy evaluation may vary, depending on the circumstances. Some government departments and organisations have a dedicated unit with responsibility for evaluating policies, while others may commission evaluations in-house or from outside organisations, as required. Although best practice principles exist, the context of the policy and the target audience requires particular attention against these broader best practice guidelines. When conducting monitoring and evaluation, disaggregated data (by gender, age, and other characteristics) should be used as often as possible.

When assessing the impact of awareness campaigns, a number of tools can be employed to monitor and measure their short- and long-term success. In the short-term, policy makers can conduct surveys to evaluate the effects of policy initiatives pre- and post- intervention and feedback can be received from questionnaires after a promotion event. Over the longer term, surveys such as the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) [1] or the Flash Eurobarometer[2] can provide an indication of changes of social attitudes towards entrepreneurship over time. Responses by specific target groups can be identified in many of these surveys.

Capturing the effectiveness of policies that seek to develop favourable socio-cultural conditions for inclusive entrepreneurship can be a challenge. Success stories and role models can positively influence entrepreneurial intentions, but the intentions do not necessarily translate into entrepreneurial behaviour.


The Framework for Indicators of Entrepreneurial Learning and Competence in Europe[3] has been developed to help monitor and measure entrepreneurship education across countries. The framework not only covers both qualitative and quantitative indicators (e.g. participation rates, learning outcomes, attitudes towards entrepreneurship) but also recognises important gaps where improvements could be made to capture data on the direct impact between entrepreneurial learning and the outcomes.

One of the main potential dangers in the realisation of policy evaluation is a failure to understand the culture of an awareness campaign’s target group, within particular national or regional contexts. In the contexts where evaluation culture and practice are absent or limited, there is necessarily a lack of learning from the policy making process. Budgets available for evaluation can sometimes be constrained by the need to allocate resources for programme delivery. This can be addressed, to a degree, by assigning a percentage of a programme budget for evaluation work at the outset. It is essential that the scale, time and source of funds are specified in the policy design. Another possibility for policy makers, particularly government departments, is the use of peer review system where evaluations are carried out by a team of people drawn from other departments.

When monitoring and evaluating entrepreneurship promotion activities, policy makers should:

  • Ensure that targets and objectives are clearly defined and linked to measurable indicators.
  • Recognise that business start-up can occur many years after promotional activities. It is also likely that some people will discover that entrepreneurship is not suitable for them when they have a better understanding about what it is and what it entails. This should be considered a positive outcome.

[1] Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Available at: www.gemconsortium.org/.

[2] Flash Eurobarometer (2013), “Entrepreneurship in the EU and Beyond”, https://data.europa.eu/euodp/data/dataset/S1024_354.

[3] European Commission (2014), ‘Expert Group on Indicators on Entrepreneurial Learning and Competence: Final Report’, A report submitted by ICF GHK on behalf of the European Commission, 29 April 2014, Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/library/reports/2014/entrepreneurial-expert-report_en.pdf.