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SkyAlert's Velasco. SkyAlert's Velasco.

Mexico is world’s most unwelcoming country for social entrepreneurs

Mexico ranked poorly in terms of support for social entrepreneurship from government policy

Mexico is the worst country for social entrepreneurs out of the world’s 45 largest economies, according to a new poll.

Conducted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in conjunction with Deutsche Bank, the poll surveyed about 900 social enterprise experts about the favorability or otherwise of setting up and running companies that are seeking to tackle social problems in the world’s biggest economies.

It was the second time that the poll has been carried out. Mexico’s 43rd-place ranking (Iran and Saudi Arabia were excluded due to difficulties polling there) was 15 places lower compared to its position in the inaugural survey in 2016.

Mexico fared poorly in most of the 12 indicators that were used to assess the political, economic, regulatory and cultural factors that affect social entrepreneurs.

The news agency Reuters reported that Mexico was one of the two worst countries in terms of the public’s understanding of what social entrepreneurs do, which makes it hard for them to sell their ideas and products to people.

Mexico was also in the bottom two countries in terms of support for social entrepreneurship from government policy. It ranked among the lowest for access to funding and the ability to sell social enterprise ideas and products to business.

Assessing the momentum that social entrepreneurship is gaining in the world’s 45 largest economies, the poll respondents ranked Mexico 40th. The position is 32 places lower than Mexico’s ranking in the 2016 survey. No country slumped as much.

“There’s only a small minority of people who see social entrepreneurship as a significant or important value proposition,” Alejandro Morales Garcia of the Eugenio Garza Laguera Entrepreneurship Institute at Mexico’s Tec. de Monterrey university told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s difficult for projects to flourish or be born or to continue to develop if we keep thinking in this same way.”

Mexico also ranked poorly for the presence of women in leadership roles in the social entrepreneurship sector, coming in third last ahead of Brazil and the United States.

Marcela Torres, co-founder of Hola Code, a startup that teaches young deportees how to code, said that machismo is a constant challenge for women working in the sector.

She said that investors would often only address her male co-founder during the period in which they were launching the company.

“There’s an expectation in Mexico that a woman should behave a certain way or talk a certain way,” Torres said. “I know a lot of women who develop strategies to seem more likable, so that they’re not perceived as hard.”

Torres said that the federal government’s decision to disband the National Institute for Entrepreneurs (Inadem) wasn’t “bad” in itself because “Inadem was a fairly corrupt institute.”

However, she added that its dissolution has “left a gap” in terms of government support for social entrepreneurs.

One entrepreneur who has experienced firsthand the difficulty of getting support from both the government and the private sector is Álvaro Velasco.

Attempting to secure funding and legal assistance to set up SkyAlert – a technology startup that provides earthquake warnings via a mobile app – Velasco struggled immensely.

“In Mexico City, there’s been a brutal slowdown in the atmosphere for entrepreneurship,” he said.

“With few resources, with zero possibility of accessing public funds . . . and always fighting local and federal governments that don’t want you to operate, it becomes mission impossible, and that’s what we have to fight against in Mexico.”

The Mexico City government issued a decree in August stating that the only entity authorized to send early earthquake alerts was the non-profit organization Center for Seismic Instrumentation and Registry, or Cires.

The United States also fared very poorly in the social entrepreneurship poll, plunging to 32nd place from first in 2016.

The poll found that Canada is the best country for entrepreneurs setting up companies that seek to combat social problems. Australia ranked second followed by France, Belgium, Singapore, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Indonesia and Chile.

The worst five countries for social entrepreneurs are Mexico, Turkey, Japan, Venezuela and Colombia.

Source: Reuters (en) 

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