British Ambassador, Peter Millett spoke to the Amman Chamber of Commerce on Thursday 16th April on ‘the role of entrepreneurship in driving growth’.
He started by emphasising that the creation of new jobs is one of the biggest challenges facing all governments. The solution is in the private sector, not the public sector, since only business can create new jobs that can create wealth for the nation. The role of government is to create the framework for business to thrive and to make a country truly competitive.
The UK is encouraging entrepreneurship as the best way to support the economy and drive growth. Identifying some key policy strands drawn from the UK’s experience, the Ambassador suggested that a starting point was to identify the country’s strengths. He cited some of the UK’s strengths: the No 1 global financial sector, Europe’s largest aerospace industry, Europe’s leading IT and software market and thriving creative industries.
He also underlined the importance of making it easy for companies to set up and do business. On the World Bank ‘Ease of Doing Business’ index, the UK is rated at number 10 out of 189 countries, while Jordan is at number 119. On protecting investors, the UK is again No 10 but Jordan is at 170. Offering a true one-stop shop for investors, like UK Trade and Investment, rather than a one-stop letter-box is vital.
Easing the burdens on business is also part of the process so that businesses can go out and find customers rather than fill in forms. In the UK, any Ministry that wants to introduce a new regulation has to cancel two. Over 800 regulations have been deleted so far.
Access to finance is also an important factor. Banks should be encouraged to lend at reasonable rates while governments should be encouraged to ensure that taxation rates are low and stable. The UK’s corporate tax is now amongst the lowest in the world.
Turning to education, the Ambassador remarked that schools and universities should be encouraged to work with business to identify the skills and abilities they require, with more emphasis on vocational training and apprenticeships. Skills such as critical thinking, risk-taking, communication and leadership will be more important than simply acquiring knowledge.
He also talked about the value of celebrating success stories, such as Richard Branson, as role models for young people thinking of starting a business. But also that failure is not a bad thing provided the entrepreneur learns lessons which will help to make the next attempt more successful.
In conclusion, the Ambassador said that governments must create the conditions to facilitate entrepreneurship but then step aside and let businesses take the lead. Governments should not try to pick winners.
Governments also need to pull all the policy strands together into a coherent strategy. In Jordan, HM the King’s request for a long term economic plan should help achieve this. The British Embassy will continue to support the development of entrepreneurship in Jordan including by supporting the Business Development Centre’s ‘Maharat’ programme and the Nomou company which offers access to finance and business support to SMEs in collaboration with the Shell Foundation and GroFin.