UNCTAD Empretec – Inspiring entrepreneurship

UNCTAD Empretec -—
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promotes entrepreneurship and enhances the productive capacity and international competitiveness of SMEs in developing countries. The Empretec programme is implemented through its national centres, established in 41 countries. Empretec’s core product, the Entrepreneurship Training Workshop, promotes behavioural changes helping entrepreneurs put their ideas into action and fledgling businesses to grow.

This training [Empretec] changes your mindset, as you learn the concepts for your lifetime and you can use this knowledge if you plan to start any other business too.Melissa de León, Chef and Food Blogger, Panama

Empretec enhances entrepreneurial skills and competences

The objective of Empretec training workshops is to develop entrepreneurship. In practice, this means developing and promoting a set of specific competencies and practices that can be recognized, acquired and applied by entrepreneurs. Training is delivered by more than 500 local, certified trainers and by a pool of 40 international, master trainers. All trainers are themselves entrepreneurs.

Target beneficiaries include micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses; youth entrepreneurs; women entrepreneurs; and intrapreneurs. The Empretec programme targets SMEs with a track record of high business performance, potential entrepreneurs with promising business ideas, and start-up companies with bankable project proposals. Training should lead to SME growth, linkages with larger enterprises including MNEs, job creation and increasing investment. Empretec also supports and promotes entrepreneurship among women, and it provides tailored mentoring and training. The Women in Business Awards also contribute to realizing these aims.

Empretec trains managers and intrapreneurs to identify business opportunities. It also trains employees to adapt to changes, like downsizing or outsourcing, as well as persons who have lost their job and would like to start their own businesses. Empretec also participates in the Global Entrepreneurship Week -—
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with the aim of inspiring young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity.

Empretec contributes directly to SDG 4 and its target 4.4 “by 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship”. It also supports SDG 8 and its target 8.3 “promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services”. In addition, Empretec supports the achievement of the 2030 Agenda more widely, by contributing indirectly to SDGs 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 17 (partnerships for the SDGs). See the UNCTAD Toolbox -—
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on entrepreneurship development for more details about the link between Empretec and the SDGs.

Entrepreneurs train entrepreneurs in Empretec training activities

Empretec training is delivered by centres in 41 countries around the world. Since its inception in 1988, Empretec has successfully trained more than 481 000 people, "empretecos", helping them to found or expand businesses and create jobs in the process. Figure 1 shows the severe impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Empretec training. Empretec, being an in-person training, could not deliver any training events from March 2020 to July 2021 due restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Empretec centres started slowly resuming their activities in the second half of 2021.

Figure 1. Cumulative number of empretecos
(Thousands of persons)
Source: UNCTAD Empretec.

Since 2014, Empretec has collected activity and outcome statistics on a regular and systematic basis. Between 2014 and 2021, more than 5 000 workshops were held in which nearly 123 000 people were trained, where the training in 2020 and 2021 was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (see table 1). Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for the bulk of this capacity development, accounting for 80 and 18 per cent of the workshops, respectively, and 72 and 26 per cent of all persons trained.

Table 1. Number of Empretec workshops and persons trained, by region, 2014-2021
RegionWorkshopsNumber of people trained
Total201420152016201720182019202020212014 - 2021
Sub-Saharan Africa9166 1446 9285 9395 1824 9094921 6421 11632 352
Latin America and the Caribbean4 05812 29917 28014 94113 82814 85914 6395157288 469
Western Asia633659332-22-2505141 276
Southern Asia34752196-72-8782433
South-eastern Asia9-176---19--195
Europe11120-113--10--243
Total5 09119 00324 49821 12119 01019 86215 1602 0302 284122 968
Source: UNCTAD Empretec.

In recent years, the share of women participating in Empretec training workshops has been monitored consistently. The female share increased in all regions between 2020 and 2021 (see table 2). In 2020, around one quarter of persons trained in the programme were women. In 2021, this share soared to 40 per cent. High growth was recorded in Southern Asia. This was strongly driven by eleven workshops organized in India, in which 78 out of 82 participants were female. For Sub-Saharan Africa, data are available also for 2019, revealing an increasing trend already from 2019 to 2020 in that region.

Table 2. Share of women participating at Empretec workshops, by region, 2019-2021
Region201920202021
Sub-Saharan Africa20%23%36%
Latin America and the Caribbean-12%32%
Western Asia-48%49%
Southern Asia-37%95%
Overall20%26%40%
Source: UNCTAD Empretec.
Map 1. Geographical distribution of Empretec training centres
Sources: UNCTAD Empretec.
Empretec has had a remarkable effect on the growth of my business.Kayan Motashaw, Founder of LivRite and of the honey brand “Beelicious”, India
Empretec helped me consolidate certain characteristics that had a positive impact on my enterprise and on the way I behaved.Uneiza Ali Issufo, Founder of ConsMoz Ltd, Mozambique

Empretec’s Women in Business Awards rewards outstanding businesswomen previously trained by the programme

In 2008, Empretec launched the Women in Business Awards for developing countries. The award is granted every other year to women who have participated in Empretec training and later shown outstanding performance and success as entrepreneurs. Since 2008, seven rounds of Women in Business Awards have seen the participation of 280 women (see table 3). African and Latin American countries account for the majority of applicants in these awards, 43 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. This is a clear reflection of these regions’ overall higher participation in the Empretec training workshops, as shown already in table 1 above. On average, however, the three regions in Asia (Western, Southern and South-eastern) seem to exhibit a higher relative share of applicants among trained women (between 1 and 2 per cent) than in other regions, where the relative share of applicants is below 1 per cent.

Despite a modest absolute number of applicants, Western Asia, in particular Jordan, has been very successful, garnering five podium positions, including three first places, in 2008, 2014 and 2020.1

Table 3. Women in Business Awards, number of applicants, by region, 2008-2020
Region2008201020122014201620182020Total
Sub-Saharan Africa142391526257119
Latin America and the Caribbean9182717211619127
Western Asia123554323
Southern Asia----1135
South-eastern Asia--1-1-24
Europe------22
Total24434037544636280
Source: UNCTAD Empretec.

Empretec is a steppingstone to more business activity

Empretec has recently performed an impact assessment on a series of training workshops conducted in Angola under the TRAINFORTRADE II EU-UNCTAD Joint Programme for Angola -—
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. Results confirm earlier assessments of Empretec’s workshops for which participants were followed up on four measures: sales, number of employees, profitability of the participants’ businesses, and number of business start-ups among participants. Over the five-year period from 2013 to 2017, the average increase over three months ranged from 12 per cent for the number of people employed to 25 per cent for the number of new businesses created. The corresponding numbers after twelve months were 34 and 38 per cent, respectively.2

In the impact assessment of the Angola programme, economic impact of the workshop on over 340 Angolan entrepreneurs has been assessed. Results reveal, among other developments, that:

  • 22 per cent of the interviewees started new businesses after their participation in the Empretec Entrepreneurship Training Workshop;
  • The number of job posts generated by the companies managed by empretecos rose from 439 to 732 within a period of around two years. This represents a 30 per cent average annual increase in the number of job posts generated by empretecos – in a period when the Angolan GDP dropped for three consecutive years in a row;
  • 85 per cent of the companies included in the survey reported sales growth after the workshop, and 87 per cent of the entrepreneurs believed sales would increase from 2022 to 2023;
  • On a scale from zero to 10, entrepreneurs on average rank Empretec at 9.24 points, showing a highly positive assessment of the programme by its participants;
  • When comparing Empretec with other business training tools, almost 84 per cent of the empretecos regard it as better than average -—
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Notes

  1. More can be found on their website: https://unctad.org/webflyer/Empretec-women-business-awards-2020.
  2. Unfortunately, no control groups are available. Therefore, the growth figures presented here cannot be compared with enterprises in same sectors and size classes that did not participate in Empretec

References

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