Chile is mixing the right ingredients for an entrepreneurial explosion

Last night I attended ASECH’s Cumbre de Emprendendores (entrepreneur summit), which brought together entrepreneurs, Chile’s President and Minister of Economy to talk about the challenges and goals of economic growth via entrepreneurship.  Founded about 8 months ago, ASECH is a privately funded association founded by entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs. Their goals are to bring the Chilean entrepreneurial community together and give entrepreneurs a voice in government by lobbying for more entrepreneur friendly laws.

So far it’s been an huge success.  Over 1000 entrepreneurs from 9 of Chile’s 15 regions have joined ASECH.  They hosted meetups and workshops, but most importantly they’ve been shining the spotlight on the challenges faced by entrepreneurs and pushing the government to help fix them.  People say that in the US entrepreneurs don’t have a lobby.  We don’t.  In Chile, we now do.

Why it’s important

I believe that the world is going through the biggest change since the industrial revolution and that the country that figures out how to create the right landscape and culture that fosters entrepreneurship will be best positioned for the future.  Entrepreneurs aren’t asking for handouts, they want a more level playing field against incumbents.  Governments around the world should be clamoring for entrepreneurs and job creators.

What’s happening in Chile is unprecedented.  Between private initiatives and public policy, Chile is on the way to getting it right.  Say what you want about President Piñera, but he gets entrepreneurship.  He understands why its important and continues to support it both with words but more importantly with action, unlike many politicians who only pay lip service to entrepreneurship.  If you contrast Chile with Argentina, the US or many countries in Europe, you’ll see the differences.  You’d never see Argentina’s President at a gathering of entrepreneurs.  In the US, President Obama mostly pays lip service to entrepreneurship, same as Europe.

President Piñera

Chile is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the big changes happening in the world economy.  It has a stable government that is serious about changing laws to make starting a business easier: opening a bank account, receiving payments from large companies in 30 days or less and making the playing field more level.  In Chile, the government is engaged, the private sector is growing.  Chile also has a strong, educated, up and coming private sector made up of entrepreneurs who are eager to make sure these changes happen.  They want to build businesses to make Chile a more equal place.

There are two ways to make a society more equal and more prosperous.  Government can redistribute by giving away money and taking from others or businesses can redistribute wealth by creating more of it.  It happens via entrepreneurship.  The first country that gets this right, will have a huge competitive advantage in our new economy.  Between government policy and a strong entrepreneurial sector, Chile is on the right path.  It needs to keep it up.

These types of changes don’t happen by accident or in a vacuum.  They are part of an ecosystem, powered by people.  Congratulations to Nico Shea, Cristian Lopez from ASECH (and previously Startup Chile) for having the vision and execution to make it happen.  Keep it up guys.  There’s still a long way to go.  And for anyone else interested in being a part of it, get involved.  There are tons of opportunities.  Take the leap and be a part of Chile’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Check out this video produced by ASECH about the struggles new businesses have to just get a bank account.  For my english speakers, an entrepreneur walks into a bank and asks for a bank account for his future business.  The executive just laughs him out of her office.


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