The President of young Basque entrepreneurs, Guillermo Sáez Viana, has called for greater institutional support for entrepreneurs and for aid to focus especially on consolidating the business phase.

– What would you say to young people who want to set up their own businesses?
That they must be enthusiastic about their projects, be positive, believe in themselves and in their ideas. They should take risks, but taking into account that sometimes you lose.

– Do young entrepreneurs have sufficient institutional support?
The business history of the Basque Country has provided a business fabric with a great capacity for entrepreneurship and leadership by the Basque population. This has been evident for decades; however, in recent years, we have seen businesses and entrepreneurs launching their businesses in or moving them to other regions outside of the Basque Country, which is a great loss of talent for our country. We should provide tax incentives to make it easier to establish businesses and we should simplify and streamline bureaucracy, provide favourable tax measures that do not punish business activities, grant bonuses for investments in Basque companies to recover and attract talent…

– Have you detected a growing interest in self-employment among young people over the past few years?
With the crisis, many people saw this option as the only way out of  unemployment, especially due to necessity, although the option is valid for certain profiles and at certain times. At Ajebask, we always recommend having some previous work experience before taking any step.

– What do they bring to the business world?
They clearly bring talent and they generate jobs, wealth and well-being.

– Is it more difficult to launch a project or to consolidate one over time?
Both options are difficult. But perhaps the consolidation phase is more difficult. Ajebask helps promoters throughout the entire process of establishing a company, from the original idea to opening the business. We also have a Business Incubator where the survival rate after 5 years stands at 92%; while the national average is 50%.
At the institutional level, they tend to focus on aid at the beginning of the process, but we have found that companies need more support during the consolidation phase. That is the key moment. To get to that point, the entrepreneur’s level of involvement has been very high; there has been a lot of work and money invested along the way. In many cases, money has been granted through aid programmes that, due to a lack of support, is lost, because many companies don’t make it past this stage.

– What part of a company’s management causes more problems?
The economic-financial part. If the numbers don’t add up, there is nothing you can do. This aspect is considered relatively important, when it is really vital, and it starts by seeking the funds.

– Should entrepreneurship be more prevalent in the educational system?
Of course. At Ajebask, we have been cooperating for more than 15 years in promoting an entrepreneurial culture within the educational centres of Àlava, but we feel that there is a need to enhance the participation in entrepreneurial programmes, involve the educational environment, especially at an early age. It would also be necessary to include entrepreneurship as a subject in vocational training and at university: responsibility, education, leadership training… But not only as a subject, it is also a matter of re-educating young people to promote the image of young entrepreneurs.
We are currently working on a project to implement an entrepreneurship module for young students at the schools that request it. The methodology has been imported and is proving very successful.

– What sectors offer the greatest number of business projects?
Services, marketing and new technologies, the Internet, security, environmental consultants… Although there are still many restaurant and bar projects with a creative touch.

– Do they correspond with what the market is demanding?
Not necessarily, the most recurring sectors are those whose initial investments are lower. The market is telling us that the trends that are taking off are, for example, the Internet of Things, big data, marketing automation, 3D printing, the collaborative economy…

– Are the companies being established today different from those of previous years?
Yes, without a doubt. Now we are seeing many more technology-based companies, with projects that always focus on efficiency and productivity. The most insignificant error can derail the best idea, because someone will come along and do it better. The world is changing very quickly, more than ever in history; so much that you need to keep up-to-date and young entrepreneurs find it easier to adapt to change permanently. This is why I believe that on-going training is essential. Our environment is constantly changing and we have to be able to be aware of these transformations in order to adapt.

– What does Ajebask do to help entrepreneurs?
We are the mouthpiece voicing the interests and concerns of young entrepreneurs in the Basque Country, and we obviously continue to support the creation of new businesses through our business accelerator using a support system that makes it unique. In addition, we channel resources and provide support throughout the life of the enterprise, and of course all kinds of complementary activities, networking, conventions, access to funding, training courses, etc.