Entrepreneurship in Ireland has surpassed pre-recession levels, according to a survey that also highlights the growing number of businesses founded by women.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that the number of new business owners in Ireland rose to 35,000 in 2016. Entrepreneurs who at least part own and manage a business that is between four and 42 months old are classed as new business owners.
The survey found that one in 23 people in Ireland aged between 18 and 64 owned such a business last year, putting Ireland on a par with the US and ahead of many European countries.
Ireland’s 35,000 new business owners put it sixth among European countries. Of all new business owners, 37 per cent were female, the highest level since Global Entrepreneurship Monitor began its annual study in 2000. One in every 14 women are now classed as entrepreneurs.
Frances Fitzgerald, the enterprise minister, said that the report provided a timely update on the level of entrepreneurship in Ireland.
“I am particularly heartened that the rate of early-stage entrepreneurship in Ireland has now returned to the levels observed pre-recession and that many Irish entrepreneurs have growth ambitions and expect to be employers,” she said. “Like most countries, there are more male entrepreneurs than female, but that gap narrows as one moves from actively planning to actually starting a new business.”
Ms Fitzgerald added that initiatives to encourage women entrepreneurs, such as Enterprise Ireland’s dedicated female entrepreneurship unit, were helping to reduce the gender gap even further.
During the Celtic Tiger period from 2003 to 2007 as much as 8 per cent of Ireland’s working-age population were active as either a nascent entrepreneur or a new business owner.
Nascent entrepreneurs are those who are actively planning a new venture or who have taken steps towards starting a new business during the previous 12 months.
This fell to about 7 per cent during the financial crisis before rising again to 8 per cent of 18-64 year olds from 2013 to 2015.
In 2016, 11 per cent of people in that age range were active as a nascent entrepreneur or a new business owner, according to the study.