8.1. New sustainable entrepreneurship in Denmark
The Alternative will work to develop a strong and sustainable entrepreneurial culture in Denmark. Here, we believe that the public system, which is designed for a more rigid and traditional labor market, needs to be able to support entrepreneurs and new businesses to a much higher degree. It should simply be possible for unemployed people to become entrepreneurs.
Educational institutions should help to provide future entrepreneurs with the best requisites to think about entrepreneurship and sustainability together. We also believe that it is in our educational institutions that a change of attitude must take place, from that of taking an education to get a job after graduation, to taking a course to create jobs in the community.
Two-year targeted entrepreneurial performance
People in the unemployment benefit system with entrepreneurial ambitions have difficulty starting their own businesses as they must be available for work. Moreover, many Danes refrain from establishing themselves as entrepreneurs due to the fear of going bankrupt.
Against this background, The Alternative suggests a more targeted entrepreneurial allowance (80% of the normal rate of unemployment benefits) and specific advice for people with the right qualifications.
The allowance would be awarded to people on the benefit system who have the skills and intentions of pursuing a life as an entrepreneur. The allowance’s reduced size ensures the state proceeds and that only motivated people make use of that option.
After more than two years, the entrepreneur should be able to receive his or her own wages through the newly established company.
It is vital that the entrepreneurial allowance is targeted at unemployed people who want to develop a sustainable business idea and have the courage and will to work as independents. Therefore, a tailored training and mentoring program will be offered with one or more competent business consultants, professional coaches and personal coaches who will continuously evaluate the business plan, economics, leadership, etc.
There will be continuous reporting back to the unemployment fund, which will evaluate the company each quarter. It is therefore vital that the entrepreneurial allowance is targeted so that at least 50 per cent of businesses survive.
Increased education, training and awareness of sustainable entrepreneurship
The Alternative suggests that primary and secondary schools and higher education increase entrepreneurial education under the title ‘from job taker to job creator’.
In studies from the Foundation for Entrepreneurship (figures from 2012/13), only 10.6% of the primary and lower secondary schools’ 700,000 students, 31.5% of the 270,000 upper secondary school students, and 10.9% of the 258,000 students in higher education have participated in education and specific activities within entrepreneurship. At The Alternative, we have the ambition that all Danish students during the course of their studies experience stimulating and creative teaching in the startup of businesses, projects and other initiatives.
At The Alternative, we believe that an entrepreneurial culture must be incorporated into, and form a natural part of the teaching or setting of all subjects, and not just act as a separate course on entrepreneurship. The training must ensure that students are enriched with insights and knowledge, acquire the courage to act and the skills that enable them to transform potential into concrete sustainable solutions and fruitful business ideas.
The future model for cooperation between businesses, municipalities and the state must be based on new social cooperative agreements and contracts – the promise of better framework conditions in return for companies undertaking to create a sustainable society. Examples here include creating jobs, setting up internships, conducting research, investing in the environment and increasing businesses’ focus on social responsibility.
There is a need for research, information and the development of ideas on how we in Denmark can create better framework conditions for sustainable entrepreneurs and businesses.
Some of the issues to be examined are:
– How can the public sector cooperate to a higher degree with small start-up companies that compete on quality and not only on price? How can the public sector create better conditions for green entrepreneurs? How can the state engage small businesses and entrepreneurs as suppliers?
– Green Lab should be an inter-agency development unit that involves both citizens and businesses to create new, sustainable solutions and projects that provide increased value to society.
– In addition, employees in the public sector should be able to come together to create a new type of business that ensures employees’ ownership of the public companies in a “not for profit” framework. This could, for example, be an independent institution and apply to schools, nursing homes or kindergartens, as well as to recycling centers and other publicly owned enterprises.
– Therefore, new business types and structures should be developed similar to the private institutions that are discussed above.
– Green Lab should be a public entrepreneurial zone, meant to inspire creativity, innovation and collaboration across ministries and in the public sector.