Report warns G20 leaders that digital disruption could hinder young entrepreneurs

  • Calls for G20 policy action to help young entrepreneurs manage digital disruption.
  • Urges governments to promote better access to finance, cross-border research.
Report warns G20 leaders that digital disruption could hinder young entrepreneurs


A NEW EY report warns that G20 leaders must better support young entrepreneurs through policies that ensure digital disruption enables rather than hinders their business development plans.

The report, Disrupting the disruptors: Disrupting youth entrepreneurship with digital and data, was released to mark the start of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance (G20 YEA) summit in China.

Using a digital barometer to compare digital entrepreneurship performance of G20 nations and to identify leading practices and policies that allow young entrepreneurs to thrive on digital disruption, the report identifies key policy recommendations, including clear governance on data access and privacy; support for cross-border research clusters, and the establishment of a new G20 youth entrepreneurship mobility visa.

Countries that rank first in at least one key indicator for supporting digital entrepreneurship include Canada (access to finance); the US (entrepreneurial culture, digital skills and entrepreneurial education, digital knowledge base, and ICT market); and the UK (digital business environment).

EY strategic growth leader – Global Industry and Emerging Markets Leader – Global Government & Public Sector Rohan Malik, said that “entrepreneurs disrupt business practices and reshape behaviour.

“And today, the world in which they work is itself being disrupted by digital technologies. As G20 governments think about how to set up their economies to succeed in this digital environment, they must help equip young entrepreneurs for the age of digital disruption.

“Policy can play a critical role in turning digital disruption into a powerful opportunity for young entrepreneurs. Supporting an entrepreneurial environment that encourages young people to establish, grow and scale their businesses is a significant opportunity — even a responsibility — for G20 governments. It also creates opportunities to advance inclusiveness through entrepreneurship, particularly for young women.”

Across South-East Asia, EY Asean Government & Public Sector Leader Sam Wong observed that the diverse economic and business landscape in the region means that the digital environment has varying impact on entrepreneurial activity.

“For countries that have a relatively more advanced digital landscape, such as Malaysia and Singapore, we are seeing more supportive physical, business and legal infrastructure for businesses to adopt these new technologies and platforms, which in turn spurs entrepreneurship. For frontier countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Myanmar, the empirical observation is that digital readiness takes a slower pace, as the governments focus on other more pertinent issues”.
The report’s top policy recommendations are:

Access to finance:

  • Support the development of early-stage financing and support schemes for young entrepreneurs, including incubators and accelerators
  • Reduce investment barriers to promote access to foreign capital for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial culture:

  • Introduce entrepreneurship as a specialised stream in higher education and schools
  • Engage industry in the development and delivery of tech, digital and management-focused training
  • Protect young entrepreneurs’ intellectual property with targeted provisions to encourage innovation and collaboration with larger organizations and investors

Digital business environment:

  • Champion a G20 entrepreneur visa and promote the development of support networks for newly arrived entrepreneurs in G20 host countries
  • Establish clear guidelines on data privacy and security, including usage, data rights and quality

Digital skills and entrepreneurial education:

  • Teach entrepreneurship in schools from elementary through to final years of high school and prioritize STEM education, particularly for female students
  • Promote youth entrepreneurship mentoring and coaching programs within industry and entrepreneurship networks

Digital knowledge base and ICT market:

  • Foster multi-stakeholder digital clusters and networks, including those with a sectoral or city-level focus, along with coaching and mentoring schemes
  • Support university-entrepreneur collaboration, including through funding incentives for universities

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