An analysis of the potential of incubators as a part of the development strategy of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in the SENAP region with a special focus on Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
“Incubators and their cousins, accelerators, provide hands-on training and mentoring, and often a physical space, to help early-stage business ideas develop” (The Economist, 2017). In the context of the development strategy of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), this begs the question what potential the cooperation, respectively the funding of incubators and accelerators may hold. In collaboration with thematic experts of the SDC, the scope of this research project is the evaluation of the potential of incubators for employment and income creation in the SENAP region. To do so, this paper aims at determining what an incubator is and what it can achieve. Furthermore, it strives to determine how an incubator can meet the goal of innovation and ultimately of employment and income creation. The paper also aims at evaluating what the SDC could achieve by supporting specific types of incubator to the tune of CHF 4 million.
This paper has the ambition of being a practice-oriented scientific research. It is based on 38qualitative interviews – of an average length of 43 minutes – with SDC employees, respectively individuals active in development cooperation, entrepreneurs, incubator affiliates NGO workers and university researchers. Moreover, it builds on over 50 reports and studies and various databases used for quantitative analyses. Thanks to this variety of sources, this paper is expected to deliver a differentiated analysis of the potential of incubators for employment and income in the SENAP region.
The paper starts by giving an overview of the types of business incubators currently inexistence. The impact pathway of incubators is then explained, outlining the steps leading from business incubation to employment and income creation. Section 4 gives an overview of the incubators found in the SENAP region, showcasing their number and dynamics. The quantitative potential of incubators is then introduced as a tool for employment and income creation by presenting the methodology used, namely an evaluation of the general external attractiveness and the potential internal impact of incubators. The next section builds on this by painting portraits of the focus countries Tunisia, Tanzania, Zambia and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. For all four focus countries, an analysis of the general external attractiveness is conducted, and the internal potential impact and potential risk are evaluated.
Based on the conducted interviews, this is followed by an assessment of the qualitative potential of incubators as a tool for employment and income, which helps support the findings of the quantitative analysis. Section 8 presents different implementation scenarios and possibilities for the SDC to collaborate with and engage incubators. The impact of these 6 scenarios is evaluated and weighed against alternative projects. The paper closes with a final recommendation for the SDC and an overall conclusion.