Research on entrepreneurship in difficult environments

I was recently recommended a few papers and reports on the challenges entrepreneurs face in difficult environments.

This report detailing the challenges and needs of entrepreneurs in Syria.
Being a very extreme place, these findings are not necessarily directly translatable to other parts of the MENA region, but some chapters seemed to me to be transferable.

Another paper I was recommended outlines the difficulties of establishing startups in post-war Kosovo, and was not very positive of the capability of home-grown initiatives to compete with foreign enterprises.

Finally, this paper looks at how extreme events like terrorist attacks and natural disasters affect entrepreneurship and argues that there is evidence to support that extreme events can lead to increased entrepreneurship.

@hazem, @zmorda and other people with experience from living and working in the region – I would love to hear your thoughts on how well you think these findings from quite extreme places translate to less extreme but still difficult places like Tunisia.


Great stuff here @hugi

Our holistic security project (digital security meets self and community care) with @nadiael and FRIDA: the Young Feminist Fund will also be addressing some of these issues. Like you, I’m super interested in hearing perspectives of Edgeryders across the spectrum of difficult contexts. I recall a post from a long-time Edgeryder @iriedawta sharing their reflection from Nagorno Karabagh/Artsakh a few months ago here that could be a place to start.


hey @hugi

I have just finished reading the 1st report in Syria, I agree with you that Syria is an extreme and complicated situation but of course some of the general recommendation is applicable to other Countries as well.

Some of the main challenges mentioned by the author apply as well in other countries ( not with the same level though ) like the infrastructure problems, increasing economic burdens, payment restrictions, and diminishing human skills as well.

Even in situations where the state is welcoming entrepreneurs. lately a lot of Arab states including Egypt and Saudi Arabia made programs to invest in new entrepreneurs and nourish the ecosystem due to political and economic reasons.

This I need still to read the other two but it was briefly mentioned in the Syrian Report

The chart above reflects how the crisis has inspired a new wave of innovative youths who have tapped into unexplored fields to produce new ideas and embrace a model of business that is not devoid of adventure. This optimism and an emphasize on innovation and entrepreneurship increased from 2014 to 2015.

and it is understandable that when the public and also the private sector fail to fill the unemployment gap, people tend to take matters into their own. Besides, having new challenges like rebuilding or limited electricity and water that needs to be solved. It could be also, in my opinion, that when one realize that solving the bigger political problem is unsolvable by his/her own hands, tends to invest his/her energy in another useful way.

I find also these 2 papers interesting to describe the situation in the Region :

  • This one on Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon

  • This is very interesting ,specially ch4 but the full version is not available online ( I only read the available text from Google reader )

The missing aspects though, that I can’t find reports and hard to grasp the data on it, is the failure rate, and the what kind of ideas and small, medium enterprises get funded via the newly public ventures. As in most of these states the “political mindset” is the main driver and I am not sure what mechanisms they tend to use to filter the ideas to the ones that are aligned with their political will, in other words how they try to keep the ecosystem controlled.

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Good pointers Hazem, I will take this into account in what Nadia and I are working on now.