New Stanford project on entrepreneurship after the Arab Spring

The Program on Arab Reform and Democracy is pleased to launch “Entrepreneurship after the Arab Spring”, a new project led by Dr. Amr Adly.

The project addresses a number of questions on the entrepreneurship ecosystem that comprises the legal, institutional, regulatory, and policy frameworks governing the private sector and entrepreneurial activity in Tunisia and Egypt. The research project aims at raising awareness about the ecosystem among those designing international assistance programs as well as informing local stakeholders in Tunisia and Egypt. Key issues affecting businesses in those countries are primarily tackled; how they are more widely affecting the economy and the constituents; and the areas of potential reform.

The principal questions are: What are the barriers to entry and growth that face entrepreneurs in the two countries? How are these barriers related to the institutional, legal and regulatory, and policy mechanisms at work in each country? What changes can be made in the ecosystem that would enable entrepreneurship? What are the policy areas that need to be addressed to support reform?

To answer those questions, the project will address specific research topics such as the process of starting businesses, property rights protection, access to credit and finance, bankruptcy and market exit, corruption and cronyism, public policy quality, education and vocational training together with access to infrastructure, labor and taxation policies and regulations.

The project will primarily rely on fieldwork through conducting surveys via questionnaires, in-depth interviews and focus group discussions with a hundred entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs in Egypt and Tunisia, mainly owner-managers of small-and medium-sized enterprises within both the formal and informal sectors. Such an area has been traditionally under-researched in the Middle East if not in developing countries by and large.

The project aims at the production of action-oriented research, in the form of two country reports with clear policy recommendation that can be used later on for advocacy, campaigning and stakeholder mobilization. This objective implies that the research project maintain dense and dynamic connectedness with the ongoing changes in the two observed countries. Hence, stakeholders in Egypt and Tunisia shall be included in every stage of the development of the policy papers. This will take place through the organization of four roundtables in parallel with the ongoing research—two roundtables will be held in each country. At the final stage, policy reports will be released through holding a conference in Tunisia and Egypt each in January 2014, with the presence of attendants representing different stakeholders within the state, private sector and, civil society, as well as the scholarly community.