2013 / 5月
Today’s Young Entrepreneurs
Eric Lin /tr. by Phil Newell
Entrepreneurship is an indicator of which way the economic winds are blowing.
Since the global financial tsunami of 2008, countries around the world have been taking a longer look at the role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in maintaining economic stability, and have been working to encourage business start-ups. This wave of interest has moved from the European Union to the United States and swept across the Pacific to Japan and Korea, with everyone extolling the idea of “top priority for SMEs.” The hope is that creation of new businesses will generate new job opportunities, stimulate economic activity, and raise national morale.
Taiwan has long been famous for the boldness of its small businesses, who have “built empires with nothing more than a sample case in hand,” and today is no exception to the trend toward constructing an environment conducive to entrepreneurship. In the past several years, the private sector, government, and academia have all been mobilized; incubation centers have been founded; capital has been injected into small businesses; and new entrepreneurs have been riding the hottest fads of globalized digital technology, cultural and creative industries, quality of life and the environment. As a result, the number of new businesses registered in Taiwan has reached a new high, with 99,000 new firms registering in 2011 alone.
In just a few short years, these up-and-coming small entrepreneurs have become the new symbols of vigor and energy in Taiwanese society.
For these young people, founding a business provides an entrée for them to personally participate in making a better world, and in revolutionizing how we live through commercial activity. As a result, entrepreneurship is no longer purely just doing business or building a company; it also means taking the initiative to define our era, spark new trends, and express concern for various communities of people.
The 2012 World Competitiveness Report, produced by the international management school IMD of Lausanne, Switzerland, places Taiwan at number one in the world in terms of “entrepreneurial spirit.” With this kind of cultural foundation, these young entrepreneurs are standing on the shoulders of giants, exploring new territory.
Our cover story for this issue of Taiwan Panorama examines the global wave of entrepreneurship and Taiwan’s efforts to stay on top. It examines the current entrepreneurial wave in Taiwan—led by Internet firms, cultural and creative industries, and services—from an international perspective, and shares the diverse creativity and energy of Taiwan with readers around the world.
This cover story also marks the launch of a series of articles on various aspects of the new entrepreneurship, such as Internet startups, a second generation of entrepreneurship in established firms, novel cultural and culinary businesses, incubation teachers and consultants, and social enterprises. We will see how these business pioneers are building a new future out of their imaginations in the midst of an era of rapid and complex change.