The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021


On November 30th, the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) launched The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021 report (linked here) and the online Better Entrepreneurship Policy Tool (linked here).

On the report’s website page they note that “The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021 is the sixth edition in a series of biennial reports that examine how public policies at national, regional and local levels can support job creation, economic growth and social inclusion by overcoming obstacles to business start-ups and self-employment by people from disadvantaged or under-represented groups in entrepreneurship. It shows that there are substantial untapped opportunities for entrepreneurship in populations such as women, youth, the unemployed, and immigrants and highlights the need for more differentiated government entrepreneurship policies that respond to the specific barriers they face.”

In the Executive Summary they note “Not everyone has an equal opportunity to transform their ideas into a business. There could be an additional 9 million people starting and managing new business in the European Union (EU) – and 35 million across OECD countries – if everyone was as active in business creation as core age men (30-49 years old). This would be 50% more people engaged in early-stage entrepreneurship in the EU and 40% more in OECD countries. About three-quarters of these “missing” entrepreneurs are women, half are over 50 years old and one-in-eight are under 30 years old.”

Five groups of people are included in the Inclusive entrepreneurship indicators: Activity rates and barriers chapter exploring self-employment and entrepreneurship activities for women; immigrants; youth; seniors; and the unemployed. In the section dealing with people who are unemployed the report notes “Governments have long-supported business creation schemes for the unemployed as a route back into work and many of these schemes were expanded in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are examples of large and successful schemes but only a small proportion of unemployed people in the European Union seek to return to work through self‑employment. This chapter presents data on the proportion of unemployed people who seek to return to work through self-employment, as well as the proportion that are successful at transitioning from unemployment to self-employment. Data on the unemployed are presented at both the European Union (EU) and EU Member State levels. Selected OECD countries are covered to the extent possible.”

Key Supports in Ireland

A key support in Ireland for people seeking to address their unemployment through self-employment is the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance (BTWEA). In general, people must have been on a qualifying social welfare payment for at least nine months, and for someone on a Jobseeker’s Benefit payment they must establish an underlying entitlement to the means-tested payment Jobseeker’s Allowance. The BTWEA lasts for up to two years with recipients receiving 100% of their social welfare payment in first year and 75% of their payment in the second year.

According to the Department of Social Protection to receive the BTWEA an applicant must get the approval of their Case Officer, work with their Local Development Company on their options, the viability of their idea, and the preparation of a business plan, and have it agreed to by a Deciding Officer.

People on a Jobseeker’s Benefit Payment could apply for a Short-term Enterprise Allowance, it is of a much shorter duration: six or nine months depending on the duration of the recipients Jobseeker’s Benefit payment.

On both allowances people could apply for the Enterprise Support Grant. On the Department’s website it notes that the “maximum amount payable is €2,500 for the 24 month period of the BTWEA claim. For those on STEA it will be on a pro-rata basis €1000 Max (9 months) and €625 Max (6 months).” The Department also notes that “An applicant must be able to demonstrate (by way of documentary evidence – a bank statement or similar) if requested by a Case Officer that they are able to make a matching contribution of at least 20% to access the level of grant support available.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on people’s self-employment a number of supports were created, including facilitating self-employed people to earn up to €960 gross over 8 weeks while receiving a COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.

In other cases existing schemes were adapted. For example, people who are moving off a Pandemic Unemployment or Jobseeker’s payment to re-open their business, could apply for a COVID-19 Enterprise Support Grant of up to €1,000 to help with the cost of restarting their business.

Similarly, the Part-time Job Incentive scheme which is available for people who are long-term unemployed to take up part-time employment, developed another strand called the COVID-19 Part-time Job Incentive for the Self-Employed. Under this scheme a self-employed PUP recipient who earns more than the PUP threshold of €960 over a rolling 8-week period and no longer has an entitlement to PUP; or a self-employed person in receipt of a jobseekers payment who wishes to return to or increase their self-employment for up to a maximum of 24 hours per week.

There are two types of payment: (i) a single rate of €128.60 per week; or (ii) €209.70 if the recipient was paid an Increase for a Qualified Adult on their Jobseeker's payment. In January 2022, these figures will increase to €131.80 and €214.90 respectively.