Tuesday, February 1, 2011


No of enterprise births in Wales 2002-2009
Last week, I tweeted on the latest enterprise data for Wales.

Fortunately, I have now been able to get some time over the weekend to examine the more detailed longitudinal data for Wales between 2002 and 2009.

The picture, I am sad to say, is not good for the Welsh economy.

During the period 2002 and 2004, the number of new enterprise births in Wales went up from 8,970 to 11,525, an increase of 28 per cent.

In contrast, in the period 2004-2009, there has been a 28 per cent DECREASE in the number of new businesses being created in Wales.

As I have said before, surely it is not a coincidence that the Entrepreneurship Action Plan, with its strategy for increasing entrepreneurial activity, was at its zenith during this period before being abolished in 2005.

So what is the impact on the Welsh economy?

Let’s look at the scenario where Wales could have maintained the 2004 level of new enterprise creation supported by an Entrepreneurship Action Plan that was the envy of the rest of Europe.

This would have resulted in 9,540 more business births in Wales over the period 2004-2009.

Assuming enterprise survival rates over this period and that all of these reach the VAT threshold for sales in the first year (£70,000), then it would have resulted in a minimum £500 million in additional sales in the Welsh economy in 2009, much of it spent within local communities.

One would also assume that each business would also be employing at least one person as well as the entrepreneur.

Now I am sure that the cynics amongst you will argue that it would have been difficult to maintain that level of enterprise birth during this period BUT it is worth noting that during the period 2004-2009, the number of new businesses in Scotland grew by 2 per cent.

Clearly, something has gone drastically wrong for Wales to go from having one of the most admired entrepreneurship strategies in Europe (which was copied by the European Commission itself) to having one of the worst performances for business start-ups in the UK.

One can only hope that the next Assembly Government, if it serious about revitalising the Welsh economy, makes the development of a supportive environment for entrepreneurs a key priority.