UNCTAD Empretec1 (UNCTAD, 2020) 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 40 countries. Empretec’s core product, the Entrepreneurship training workshop, promotes behavioural changes that helps entrepreneurs put their ideas into action and helps fledgling businesses to grow.
Empretec enhances entrepreneurial skills and competences
The objective of Empretec training workshops is to develop entrepreneurship. In practice, this means developing a set of specific competencies and practices that can be acquired and applied by entrepreneurs. Training is delivered by 600 local, certified trainers and by a pool of approximately 30 international, master trainers. All trainers are themselves entrepreneurs.
Target beneficiaries include micro, small and medium sized businesses; youth entrepreneurs; women entrepreneurs; and intrapreneurs2. The Empretec programme targets SMEs with a track record of good business performance, potential entrepreneurs with promising business ideas, and start-up companies with bankable project proposals. Training should lead to Small- and medium-sized enterprise growth, linkages with larger enterprises including MNEs, job creation and increased investment. Empretec also supports and promotes entrepreneurship among women and provides tailored mentoring and training. The Women in Business Awards also contribute to realizing these aims.
Empretec trains managers or intrapreneurs to identify business opportunities. It also trains employees to adapt to changes, like downsizing or outsourcing, or those World Health Organization have lost their job and would like to start their own businesses. Empretec also participates in the Global Entrepreneurship Week (Global Entrepreneurship Network, 2020) with the aim of inspiring young people to embrace innovation, imagination and creativity.
Empretec contributes directly to Sustainable Development Goal 4 and its target 4.4 to substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship by 2030. It also supports SDG 8 and its target 8.3 to promote development-oriented policies for productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and in support of micro, small and medium enterprises. In addition, Empretec supports the achievement of the 2030 Agenda more widely, as it contributes indirectly to progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 1 (no poverty), 2 (zero hunger), 5 (gender equality), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 17 (partnerships for the SDGs). See the UNCTAD Toolbox (UNCTAD, 2015) on entrepreneurship development for more details about the link between Empretec and the SDGs.
Entrepreneurs train entrepreneurs in Empretec training activities
Empretec has active training centres in 40 locations around the world. Since its inception in 1988, Empretec has successfully trained over 477 000 people, or empretecos, helping them to found or expand businesses and create jobs in the process.
Since 2014, Empretec has collected activity and outcome statistics on a regular and systematic basis. Between 2014 and 2018, more than 4 000 workshops have been held at which more than 103 000 people were trained.
|Region||Centres||Workshops||Number of people trained|
|2014 - 2018||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018||2014 - 2018|
|Sub-Saharan Africa||17||790||6 144||6 928||5 939||5 182||4 909||29 102|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||15||3 326||12 299||17 280||14 941||13 828||14 859||73 207|
|Total||40||4 169||19 003||24 498||21 121||19 010||19 862||103 494|
Note: See appendix 1 for workshops per year and figures per country.
Latin America and the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for the bulk of this capacity development, accounting for 80 and 19 percent of the workshops, respectively, and 71 and 28 percent of all persons trained, respectively.
Empretec’s Women in Business Awards focus on women’s role in advancing the SDGs
In 2008, Empretec launched the Women in Business Awards for developing countries. The award is granted every two years to women who have participated in Empretec training to become outstanding businesswomen. Table 2 shows that African and Latin American countries account for the majority of entries (47 percent and 44 percent respectively). Despite a modest number of entries, Western Asia, in particular Jordan, has been very successful, garnering four podium positions, including two first places, in 2008 and 2014.
In 2018, civil engineer Uneiza Ali Issufo won the Women in Business Gold Award. She is the founder of ConsMoz Ltd., a construction company based in Nampula, Mozambique. She was awarded this prize for her commitment to quality, sustainability and environmental protection, as well as her pioneering leadership in a traditionally male-led sector. After participating in an Empretec entrepreneurship training workshop in 2017, Ms. Issufo was able to expand her business so that it now employs 800 people and lands large building contracts demanding top quality and green credentials.
|Region||Number of entries||Number of
top 3 rankings
|2008||2010||2012||2014||2016||2018||2008 - 2018||2008 - 2018|
|Southern and South-Eastern Asia||0||0||1||0||2||1||4||1|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||9||18||26||17||21||16||107||5|
Empretec is a stepping stone on the way to more business activity
About half of the Empretec centres have followed up on the business activities of empretecos at three and twelve months after the workshops. Participants have been followed up on four measures: sales, number of employees, profitability of the participants’ businesses and number of businesses started among the participants.
Table 3 shows the average percentage increases reported by centres. The follow-up shows that after the workshops, empretecos have increased their business activity on all four indicators. Over the 5-year period from 2013 to 2017, the average increase over three months ranges 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 are 34 and 38 per cent.3
Notes: Numbers displayed are arithmetic averages of improvements (in percentage) reported by centers at country level. Reports that were not in the form of percentages are excluded from this average. On average the numbers are based on 8 reports (range 5–11). See appendix 2 for figures per country.
- Empretec is a Spanish acronym which blends emprendedores (entrepreneurs) and tecnología (technology). The term was introduced in Argentina in 1988.
- Intrapreneur refers to a manager within a company who promotes innovative product development and marketing
- 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
- Global Entrepreneurship Network (2020). Global Entrepreneurship Week. See https://www.genglobal.org/gew (accessed 12 June 2020).
- UNCTAD (2015). UNCTAD Toolbox: Delivering results. UNCTAD/TC/2015/1/iPub. Available at https://unctad.org/en/Pages/TC/TC-Products-in-the-Toolbox.aspx (accessed 7 June 2019).
- UNCTAD (2020). Empretec: Inspiring entrepreneurship. See https://empretec.unctad.org/ (accessed 12 June 2020).
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