Entrepreneurship has the potential to address gaps in economic growth, stability, and other measures of well-being in nations around the world. Yet moving from needs-based entrepreneurship in the informal economy to opportunity-based firm creation can be tough, especially in emerging market economies. And the environment or ecosystem in which an entrepreneur is operating directly and indirectly affects entrepreneurial success and impact.

But what exactly is an entrepreneurial ecosystem?

Approaches to defining and measuring entrepreneurial or entrepreneurship ecosystems vary widely, but a synthesis of existing frameworks shows a set of domains that are key to most of these ecosystems:

  • Finance: Includes access to debt; access to venture capital; access to grants; access to angels; banks; microfinance institutions; public capital markets; development finance institutions; government finance
  • Business Support: Includes industry networks; incubators/accelerators; legal/accounting services, business mentors and technical advisers; credit rating agencies
  • Policy: Includes tax rates; tax incentives; costs to so start a business
  • Markets: Includes domestic corporations; international corporations; consumers; distribution networks; retail networks; marketing networks
  • Human Capital: Includes high schools; universities; technical training institutes; community colleges
  • Infrastructure: Includes electricity providers, transport providers; communications (mobile, internet); other utility providers (gas, water)
  • Research & Development: Includes public research centers and laboratories; private research centers and laboratories
  • Culture: Includes media, government, schools, professional associations, social organizations that support a culture of entrepreneurship

For more on entrepreneurial ecosystems and their domains, see:

The Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project
Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index - George Mason University
GSM Association - Mobile for Development Network
Koltai and Company LLC - Six + Six Model
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – Entrepreneurship Measurement Framework
World Economic Forum - The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem