The most entrepreneurial country in the world is... Uganda?

Start-ups may be super cool in developed countries, but in poorer parts of the world many are forced to go it alone.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 26 Jun 2015

Asked to name the most entrepreneurial country in the world and most people would probably say the US. Land of the brave, home of the free market and Silicon Valley, right?

Wrong - if you measure entrepreneurship by the proportion of people starting their own business anyway. Top of the table is Uganda, where 28% of people have started out on their own in the last 3.5 years, according to analysis of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor data by supplier directory Approved Index.

Next on the list is Thailand, at 16.7%, then Brazil, on 13.8%. Starting to see a pattern? All of the countries in the top 10 are developing, where going it alone may be a necessity rather than a choice, due to a lack of good, formal employment. After all, one sign of a developed economy is being able to institutionally support large companies.

Although South American country Suriname was bottom of the list, with only 0.2% having started a business, most of those at the foot of the table were wealthy countries: Italy, Japan, France, etc.

That’s not to disparage Ugandan, Thai or Brazilian founders. Indeed, the report says the burst in entrepreneurial activity in Uganda is down to a big improvement in its communications networks in recent years.

But it raises an interesting question about the definition of ‘entrepreneurial’. Many start-up types in San Francisco and London think of it as purely positive: a country wired to creating tech giants from nothing, a person who gives up a well-paid corporate job to follow their dream. This report, if accurate, is a remind that many people who start their own company are forced into it by need, rather than aspiration.

The top 10 most ‘entrepreneurial’ countries*

1. Uganda – 28.1%
2. Thailand – 16.7%
3. Brazil – 13.8%
4. Cameroon – 13.7%
5. Vietnam – 13.3%
6. Angola – 12.4%
7. Jamaica – 11.9%
8. Botswana – 11.1%
9. Chile – 11%
10. Philippines – 10.5%

The bottom 10

1. Suriname – 0.2%
2. Puerto Rico – 1.3%

3. Italy – 1.3%
4. Japan - 1.3%
5. France – 1.7%
6. Kosovo – 1.8%
7. Sweden – 1.9%
8. Croatia – 2%
9. Spain – 2.2%
10. Luxembourg – 2.3%

*(by % of people starting their own company in the last 42 months)

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