"Being an entrepreneur is not just starting a business, it is a mentality"

April 17 2017
Executive Education INCAE

Candida Brush is the Vice Chancellor for Global Entrepreneurship Leadership at Babson College business school, one of the top-rated entrepreneurship schools in the world. Brush was in Costa Rica, at the Euro-American Conference of Women Leaders, organized by INCAE and Voces Vitales.

She has been researching women for more than 35 years and believes that entrepreneurship is the best way to create social and economic value.

Why is this the best way?

Well, it's not the only thing to do. It's not just about educating people, it doesn't work just in the hope that people are going to learn an entrepreneurial mindset. There has to be a change in policy. There must be government policies and programs. It is necessary to have the support of companies and have an ecosystem to support business thinking and progress. It is really about economic progress, the creation of social and economic wealth; that's what we're talking about. 

In addition, it is clear that you need to have innovation and technology.

Can you learn to be an entrepreneur?

First of all, being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean starting a business. It is about the actions that each person performs. I can be an entrepreneur in a non-profit organization, I can be an entrepreneur in a large corporation. I can identify a situation. So being an entrepreneur is not just starting a business, that's the narrowest definition. 

The second aspect is that in Latin America people tend to be self-employed, probably for years. They also have small businesses, but they never think about the fact that they can be an entrepreneur, adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, and watch those businesses grow and expand. Part of it is due to a lack of understanding of this mindset because entrepreneurship was defined so narrowly before.

Only 22% of SMEs in Latin America are in the hands of women. Is it important to worry about female entrepreneurship?

It is important to talk about them because we have not done it. If you think about most of what we know, the proposals, the steps in most textbooks, it all comes from research on men. So how do we know that it is the right approach for all entrepreneurs? Nor can one speak only of male entrepreneurs when 50% of the population is female. You have to consider both of them.

Interview published by the magazine Strategy & Business, issue No. 206

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