The Portuguese Crisis and the New Generation of Entrepreneurs
The financial crisis has devastated Portugal’s economy and hit the morale of a country that was once prosperous. But a new generation of entrepreneurs is emerging and fighting for the country´s growth, says LSBF student Daniel Milheiro …
Since 2008, a combination of bad government policies and global financial crisis has brought Portugal almost to bankruptcy. This is now a depressed country, where there is no money.
Unemployment rates assume historical values (16.3 % in September 2013), the purchasing power is low, this is a country where everything is on sale and nothing is sold. As a result of this depression, Portugal has officially requested financial help from the European Union, the member states of the Euro area and the International Monetary Fund, in April of 2011. This assistance was intended to support policies that aim to recover the country’s reliability, and foment sustainable growth while preserving the financial stability of Portugal.
The crisis created an entrepreneurial environment never experienced before. A new generation of highly qualified entrepreneurs emerged and is proving that while the country is in arrears to the level of economic development relative to other EU countries, there is potential for growth. Realising that young people and entrepreneurship can be a factor for economic leverage, the state created a set of policies to support start-ups, support recruitment and to improve the process of creating and maintaining a company.
These government support policies, combined with the will of young entrepreneurs, meant that new companies and start-ups emerged all over the country, as well as business incubators. An example of this is the Science of Technology Park of the University of Porto. This project started in 2007 and currently has about 120 incubated companies (start-ups and companies). This year, it was considered one of the best incubators in Europe.
The Portuguese entrepreneurial environment is so intense that a large number of young entrepreneurs are dreaming and believing that they will be the next Mark Zuckerberg. This may be a good driving force, if not taken to extremes. What happens is that sometimes this will come to be blind and lead to constrain some entrepreneur’s future.
Recently, state reforms began to translate into more positive indicators of growth. Gradually, the Portuguese are gaining hope, with the belief that the crisis is about to end.
It is during hard times that we see the hero within us and this generation of young Portuguese entrepreneurs can be considered heroes. They reacted to the crisis with work and perseverance and are proving to be an important asset to the country.