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    If designing the future is ignored while facing the past, we cannot see any recovery

    Güven Sak, PhD22 December 2009 - Okunma Sayısı: 1075


    Yesterday gave at the caption "Young entrepreneurs are uneasy." Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) launched the largest young entrepreneur movement of Turkey, last week in Ankara. Democratic chamber movement began to organize young entrepreneurs following women entrepreneurs. This was a move in the right direction. First Congress of Young Entrepreneurs Board was held in Ankara. The meeting was attended by 1500 delegates from all around Turkey. Participants were young; 70 percent between 30-39 years old and 30 percent between 20-29 years old. But, what did that caption in Referans daily imply? Were young entrepreneurs actually uneasy? The impression I got in the meeting was in fact quite different.

    Now it is possible sound out meetings just from the beginning. The online survey carried out at the beginning of TOBB Young Entrepreneurs Board Congress was captioned by all newspapers. Everyone used the survey results in line with the disposition of the newspaper. Today let us reach three conclusions from the survey as well as the general mood of the meeting.

    First, a vast majority of young entrepreneurs in Turkey constitute second generation businesspeople carrying on the family business one way or another. Those who established business upon external funds constitute only 5 percent of the group. Here, external funds refer to access to the financial system. Ratio of those who benefits from public subsidies, for instance from Technological Development Foundation, is 1.4 percent. This implies that the new generation in Turkey does not have the investment ecosystem facilitating the conditions for young entrepreneurs. Here, new generation entrepreneurs constitute the first entrepreneur generation of the family; not the second generation entrepreneurs in one family. This is a gain for not only the family but also Turkey.

    Those trying to figure out why should assess to what extent the higher education system is sufficient in raising new entrepreneurs. This sign of reasoning might be one of the issues the Higher Education Council (YÖK) has dealt with so far, for instance. Tell me; so far has YÖK come to forefront with a step related with the design of the future rather than with settling with the past in the higher education system? Has it pioneered in any step that will spread innovativeness tradition among universities? In a country where YÖK deals with the past rather than the future, ratio of new generation young entrepreneurs will not surprisingly be low. This is the first point to state.

    Second conclusion directly follows from the first. The core of the university reform of Thatcher's Britain was the construction of a strong ecosystem for raising new generation entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is not a self-cultivating plant. They do not grow on their own. Entrepreneurship in a country can be advanced only if the suitable economic climate is maintained. Turkey has a strong tradition of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneurial spirit TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu "ran across on the plane to Kenya who did not speak English and searched for a market alone" improved Turkey's exports from 3 to 130 billion Dollars. Nonetheless, the milieu of global competition does not allow further. There is no way beyond making innovations. And the way to make innovations is to establish as soon as possible the suitable climate in the economy. Turkey needs dreams as well as a suitable climate to turn those dreams into reality. For now, however, such climate is absent.

    The third point is; apart from the fact that the economic climate does not support them young entrepreneurs complain about the gradually polarizing economic climate. Considering the economic factors only, 23.2 percent of the young entrepreneurs complain about access to finance and cost of finance followed by 21.4 percent complaining about high tax rates. But when added to the picture, "increasing political polarization" becomes the biggest risk factor with 42 percent followed by the access to finance with 14.4 percent. Tense political climate and the deteriorations in political stability disturb young people.

    In this context, the fourth point to highlight is that, Turkey is in a weird process were facing and settling with the future takes precedence over designing the future. Of course it is good that the past is faced without any hesitation; but unless it has some implications for the future. You can face the past only in order to construct the future. And the worst is if you think "Let us first face and leave beyond the past and then face the future." Turkey goes through a similar process in the recent period. This is disturbing in economic terms. Climate of political tension bring about a gradually increasing political ambiguity.

    Political ambiguity is bad for economic decision makers. There is no sense in saying "do not worry; everything will be okay."  Because, investment decisions will be made right today.

    Global economic crisis and political ambiguity will coincide not only in 2010. This process might go until the Presidential elections in 2012. It is quite bad that global ambiguities will be coupled with domestic political ambiguities.


    This commentary was published in Referans daily on 22.12.2009