Estonia is the most entrepreneurial country in Europe

According to the World Economic Forum, The Baltic States are a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity, and Estonia is Europe’s most entrepreneurial country.

Estonian  neighbour countries are not far behind. Sweden holds the second, Finland the 15th, Latvia the third and Lithuania the 7th place.

A report compiled by the World Economic Forum (WEF), “Europe’s Hidden Entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial Employee Activity and Competitiveness in Europe”, looked at a form of entrepreneurship beyond the typical startup – intrapreneurship, which involves workers formulating and implementing new ideas within organisations, rather than starting their own businesses. The report then compares entrepreneurial activity within organisations with startups.

From that comparison, Estonia emerges out on top, while two of Europe’s largest economies, Germany and France, don’t even make the top 10, the WEF said. According to the forum, Estonia has a high rate of total early-stage entrepreneurial activity and an above average rate of entrepreneurial employee activity. “Almost 80% of businesses started in Estonia are opportunity-driven and Estonia is often cited as a model for entrepreneurially-oriented policy,” the report points out.

Estonia’s entrepreneurial success has not happened by chance. The Estonian government hasn’t stop innovating since the 1990s, when reforms were set to change the system. Digitalising the government services and offering e-residency to anyone who wants to do business online from a virtual base are two examples of the improvements that make Estonia world leader.

The WEF used two unique data sets that were combined for the study: the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index data, which ranks economies on their economic competitiveness, and Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s assessment of entrepreneurial activity.

Country EEA EEA rank TEA TEA rank Overall Overall ranking
Estonia 4,30% 11 12,60% 2 15,80% 1

*EEA Entrepreneurial employee activity is the proportion of the population aged between 18 and 64 currently actively involved in and playing a leading role in idea development or in the preparation and implementation of a new activity for their employer, such as developing or launching new goods or services, or setting up a new business unit or subsidiary.

*TEA Total early-stage entrepreneurial activity is the proportion of the population aged between 18 and 64 either actively trying to start a new business, or managing a business that is less than three-and-a-half years old, in which they have an ownership stake. It can be broken into opportunitybased TEA (most easily explained as entrepreneurs who could find a job but choose to branch out on their own) and necessity-based TEA (most easily explained as entrepreneurs who could not find a job and had to start a business to survive).

Sources: Estonian World & World Economic Forum

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