World

Mentor Support Key to Starting a Business

by Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal and Rajesh Srinivasan

Relationship is significant in the developing world and among young people

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Social capital is important at every stage of entrepreneurship, but it is particularly important when the potential entrepreneur needs access to resources and expertise at the startup. Gallup surveys in 83 countries indicate that adults who have access to a mentor are three times more likely to say they are planning to start a business (14%) than those who do not have a mentor (5%).

Entrepreneurial intent varies by world region

Overall, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of adults (20%) planning to start a business in the next 12 months, followed by the Middle East and North Africa region (10%) and Asia (8%). Comparatively, the more developed world has fewer adults planning to start a business in the next 12 months: Northern America (7%), the former Soviet Union (4%), and the European Union (3%). However, access to social capital is important to encouraging entrepreneurial intent in all regions of the world.

Mentors play a significant role in supporting potential entrepreneurs in the developing world, where there are fewer formal training and support programs. Therefore, potential and new entrepreneurs rely heavily on family and personal relationships for starting new business ventures. Close connections between business and community in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa region become a source of informal social capital.

Access to a mentor has the potential to double the rate of new business creation in sub-Saharan Africa. Gallup data show 25% of those surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa who have access to a mentor plan to start a business in the next 12 months, compared with 13% of those who do not have a mentor. In Asia, 17% of those who have access to a mentor have plans to start a business in the near future, more than three times higher than the 5% of those without a mentor. In the Middle East and North Africa region, those with a mentor are twice as likely to plan to start a business (15%) as those without a mentor (7%).

There is a similar relationship in the more developed world. Among European Union residents, for example, 5% of those who have a mentor plan to start a business, compared with 1% without a mentor. In Northern America (U.S. and Canada) and the former Soviet Union republics, 10% of those who have a mentor plan to start a business in the next 12 months vs. 1% without a mentor.

Mentors Matter Most to Young, Male Entrepreneurs

Younger potential entrepreneurs benefit the most from having a mentor who can help them overcome the initial hurdles in starting a business and building new networks vital to the enterprise's growth. Of those in the 15-to-29 age group, 17% with access to a mentor plan to start a business, compared with 6% with no access to a mentor. The rates of potential startups drop with the increasing age of the potential entrepreneur; however, access to a mentor continues to positively influence the likelihood of starting a business.

Mentors are important for male and female potential entrepreneurs. Gallup data indicate that 16% of men who have access to a mentor plan to start a business, compared with 6% of those with no access to a mentor. Eleven percent of women with access to a mentor plan to start a business, compared with 4% without a mentor.

Entrepreneurial intent varies by age and gender

Implications

The relatively high percentage of entrepreneurial intent among those who have access to a mentor suggests that mentors can play an important role in supporting new companies in their development process. Without a mentor, an entrepreneur may find it difficult to access resources, build networks, and create partnerships that help the enterprise grow.

There are tangible and intangible benefits of having a mentor. Gallup's consulting work with more than 1,000 entrepreneurs in Mexico and the U.S. shows that pairing an entrepreneur with a mentor increases confidence and self-awareness as well as enhances business thinking and risk taking among the entrepreneurs. This prompts a developmental change in entrepreneurs that is positive for business growth. In total, it is clear that establishing mentor relationships with potential entrepreneurs may boost the chances of business creation, survival, and growth.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone and face-to-face interviews with approximately 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, in 83 countries, 2,000 adults in Russia, 3,000 adults in India, and 4,200 adults in China. All surveys were conducted in 2011.

For results based on the total samples of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error across the regions analyzed ranged from a low of ±0.3 percentage points to a high of ±1.5 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.

Countries included in the analysis

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