Entrepreneur Panama: the role of public policy and innovation

The CAF, UNCTAD, AMPYME and the City of Knowledge Foundation succesfully organized the event Entrepreneur Panama: The role of public policy and innovation, on Tuesday, May 22, at the City of Knowledge Convention Center.

The event began with welcoming remarks by Jorge Arosemena, Executive Director of the City of Knowledge Foundation (FCDS), who indicated that the City of Knowledge is the perfect platform for such forums to turn out efficiently.

Meanwhile Ruben Ramirez, Representative Director of the Latin America Development Bank (CAF), spoke about how they support business incubators and accelerators in order to provide financial resources to entrepreneurs in all stages.

Fiorina Mugione, Chief of the Entrepreneur Section, Division on Investment and Enterprise at UNCTAD, stressed that investment in Latin America has grown more than in other regions. According to Mugione, business development should support the establishment of a growth-oriented sector of small and medium enterprises.

Giselle Burillo Sáiz, Minister of AMPYME, congratulated the City of Knowledge Foundation in the development of this important activity and made it clear that they are working to foster an entrepreneurial culture. She also stressed the importance of entrepreneurship for the development of the country, and the commitment of AMPYME in fostering entrepreneurship at all levels of society.

Afterwards Manuel Lorenzo, Director of the Panama Business Accelerator (AEP), presented the results of the GEM Panama 2011, annual survey of the level of entrepreneurial activity in each country and globally. The City of Knowledge Foundation, through the Panama Business Accelerator, together with the Institute of Higher Administration Studies (IESA) in Venezuela, based in the City of Knowledge, were selected, since 2009, to carry out the corresponding study in Panama.

The surprising results of this study served to verify the increase in entrepreneurship in Panama. These results indicate, when compared to the 2009 report, that entrepreneurial activity in Panama doubled (from 9.6% to 20.8%), opportunities driven by entrepreneurship increased, the intention to be an entrepreneur had a substantial increase (from 14% to 27 %) and innovation indicators improved in all 3 aspects measured (novelty, technology, competition).

Today we have the expertise to launch businesses in Panama, many Panamanians know people who are entrepreneurs and there are less people who think that fear of failure is an important factor. Overall, opportunity entrepreneurship has remained very high in Panama and, according to Federico Fernandez of IESA, one in five Panamanians are entrepreneurs.

The event continued with a question and answer session, followed by the presentation of international speakers who spoke about their successful experiences in different countries. They were Hugo Kantis, Prodem Argentina; Inderjit Singh, Spring Singapore; Marco Kamiya, CAF; and Fiorina Mugione, Unctad.

With parting words by Lourdes Navarro, from EMPRETEC Panama, it was made clear that entrepreneurship is not just for economic growth but serves to create a more equal society, and thus it is a critical success factor in any society.

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