Posting in Architecture
BARCELONA -- And why the Spanish youth aren't either. After all, 60 percent of those 30 and under are unemployed. Maybe it's just not in the Spanish blood.
Barcelona -- Generation Y in Spain isn't asking why, they're just floundering about. Sixty percent of the country's over-educated lost generation of university and master's graduates aged 30 and under aren't getting hired. With around 26 percent unemployment nationwide, these young adults are left to fight over unpaid internships and jobs beneath their experience levels, just to get something to put on their resume. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD,) 44 percent of the Spanish aged 25 to 29 that actually have jobs are working in ones that require lesser skills than they have. So with no families, no mortgages and little else to lose, why aren't more of them creating jobs for themselves?
Many say the Spanish are just lazy, but that's not it. There's something else, intangible, that's developed in the culture and history. The children of Spain aren't raised to follow their dreams. School has become, for the most part, just a place for passing exams, never for debate, discussion or critical thinking. Your curro, or job, is to endure from nine to nine, pushing buttons until the next break. A history of civil war and a 39-year dictatorship, followed by a construction boom and crash, to now, where it's taken for granted that politicians will be corrupt, has led to a nation that's devoutly proud of being Spanish, but that can't define what that even means.
Beyond the absurdly challenging bureaucracy and the fact that banks are hardly offering loans at all anymore, there's something stagnant about the government-controlled education system and the culture in general that is keeping the nation's most book-learned generation in history from reaching its potential. SmartPlanet sets out to re-open the discussion of why technically adept young adults are not looking to start their own businesses and why this resistance to altering the status quo has led Spain to be predicted as one of the slowest kids in the PIIGS (referring to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, those most hit by Eurozone crisis,) who will take the longest to climb out of its own economic free fall.
"Upon graduation, 70 percent of Spanish people want to work in large companies, while 70 percent of American graduates want to be their own bosses," writes Juan Angel Hernandez, in a recent op-ed for a Spanish financial magazine, advocating on behalf of start-ups, as a solution to the crisis. He writes about how the goals of recent grads are either to work for the government or one of Spain's top ten companies.
So instead of between 50 and 80 percent of recent grads studying for absurdly competitive government jobs, why aren't they creating their own opportunities? One of the EU's top MBA programs ESADE set out to explore that in their White Paper on Entrepreneurship in Spain. Since entrepreneurship still isn't commonly talked about in Spanish higher education, this paper from 2010 has the most current, in-depth findings. The researchers concluded that start-up values can best be instilled at a young age and the education system is not up to the task. It states that: "Entrepreneurship can be learnt at school and should be actively promoted so that young Spaniards can develop skills such as independence, self-confidence and decision-making in situations of risk." The researchers came to the conclusion that, "Young Spanish people don't feel they have been taught how to be entrepreneurs, which is why teachers need to have the relevant tools and materials to teach business acumen and initiative, whilst also fostering their students' interaction with local entrepreneurs."
Blaming the education system -- which only maybe changes when a new political party takes power every eight years -- isn't a new theme. This isn't a nation where kids are asked what they want to be when they grow up. "In high school and university, no one has ever asked them what their motivation is -- the most important part" of starting your own business, says Eva Snijders, entrepreneur and founder of Barcelona-based start-up Quimica Visual Storytelling, which helps companies internally innovate in times of crisis and transition. She says, "People here concentrate on whether it's difficult to build a business and why it takes time and money."
Rosaura Alastruey, founder of ProyectosTIC, hosts motivational workshops for both the employed and unemployed. She says, "Un emprendedor es un bicho raro," which translates to "an entrepreneur is a rare bug," or a freak or oddball. In Spain, "Jobs are to subsist," she told SP recently. There's no need to like what you do, you just need to have a job.
It seems that you only look to start a company when it's the last thing left to try. Alastruey says, "I have students: 'After a year or two years unemployed, now I want to open a business.' It's the last option." The ESADE white paper states that four out of ten Spanish entrepreneurs act out of necessity, which isn't exactly the sort of drive most VCs and business angels are looking for.
When asked where the youth of Spain is being directed away from entrepreneurship, Alastruey quickly repeats the mantra: "The schools."
Folks in their twenties and thirties make up the first generation after the dictatorship of General Franco. "This is the generation where the parents didn't have anything, so their kids have everything, not learning that everything has a cost." The sons and daughters of the post-Franco world aren't living to make ends meet, but are simply waiting for their ideal job or are opositando, the truly Spanish phenomenon of studying for the highly competitive civil service exams. Many, on their parents' dime, study nine hours a day, six days a week for these exams, for one to five years at a time, while some of these jobs-for-life can see 1,000 applicants for only three spots.
As one entrepreneur at a networking event recently said, "You're 23 years old with your whole life ahead of you and all you can dream of is to be a public servant?"
Last year, SP interviewed Complutense University's tiny MBA in Entrepreneurship, which was developed after realizing that the university was actually uninspiring their students. “We realized that the students’ entrepreneurial behavior was much higher when they started [their bachelor's] than when they finished,” said one of the program heads, during the SP interview. The students were “more likely to start a company when they started university. What we discovered was that the university was deterring them from starting their own business." Moreover, more than half of Complutense's graduates intended to study for the civil service exams.
The don't-take-risks mentality comes down from their parents, who, more often than not, hate their jobs, but continue to cling to them. Someone who has been working for the same company for 15 years will, if they lose their jobs, receive a tax-free lump-sum check for two years' pay. However, since last year's new labor reform act, the next generation of workers may not have the same access to these severance payouts. Plus, many companies are in the practice of paying part of the salary under the table, which means that is discounted from the total paid if the job is lost. In 2010, 19 percent more Spanish companies closed than were opened, giving everyone reason to be more nervous about their job stability.
Of course, even in times of economic boom, the Spanish, in particular, fear failure. Like Hawthorne's scarlet letter, in Spain, you get branded with an "X" if you fail, and you never try again. There is no culture of "if you fail, try, try again" or of learning from your mistakes. As Enrique Samper, founder of NIMGenetics, told SP last year, “There’s something in Spain that’s risk adverse,” Samper says. “We are not used to debating, having open discussions in general. This is all flipped in the entrepreneurial community."
In this country, a common cliche is "En el pais de los ciegos, el tuerto es el rey," which translates to "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." It may be a socialist society, but that hasn't fostered the idea of the united cause here. When politicians are corrupt, most of the people aren't up in arms, but tolerant, saying they'd do the same thing if they were in that situation. It's not about keeping up with the Joneses here, it's about getting more out of the government or any other situation than anyone else does.
Spanish history and culture don't teach the philosophy of success by hard work and risk-taking, but to have respect for those that have gained success through acting craftily and cunningly. Spain's most beloved book The Life of Lazarillo de Tormes and his Fortunes and Adversaries tells the story of an extremely poor child Lazaro who is hired as the servant of a cruel blind man. For the sake of survival, innocent Lazaro grows into a cunning young man who learns to cheat the cheaters.
In one tale, this Spanish literary hero is eating grapes with the blind man. They decide to share, each eating one at a time. Soon, the old man starts taking two. Lazaro then begins to eat them three at a time. When the grapes are finished, the old man calls him on being a cheater, to which Lazaro asks him why. The old man essentially says, "If I cheat and you don't say anything, I assume you're cheating too. We all try to fool each other."
Almost five hundred years later, Lazaro's tale still paints a perfect picture of Spanish society. On January 31, Spanish newspaper El Pais raised allegations of corruption against the top members of the ruling Popular Party, including Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, for allegedly not declaring hundreds of thousands of euros in income. PP has yet to fully address the issue and there is no real talk of the party leaders stepping down any time soon. This drives home the point that Spain remains a pessimistic country that doesn't believe in opportunities, but accepts or even praises corruption and underhandedness.
The unemployed in Spain, with impossible-to-replace jobs like architects, aren't taking advantage of their opportunities either. Here, if you are receiving paro -- unemployment benefits -- you have the option of capitalizacion, which allows you to write a detailed business plan and, if approved, you may receive around 80 percent of your two years of benefits upfront to invest into your own small business. This is one of the few situations where the government is actually betting on start-ups, but the folks aren't buying.
Recently, SP attended a free class on how to start your own business, offered by the Community of Madrid, the province that is mostly made up of the capital. It was a full classroom of about 40 individuals, no one under 40, all looking to create clothing shops, convenience stores, or locutorios. Not a single person spoke of e-commerce, technology, or something unique. The only ideas that came up of financing those small businesses were the banks -- virtually impossible in Spain right now -- and family and inheritance. Up until the crisis, this country's real estate boom was based on parents co-signing their kids' zero-percent-down mortgages. Now, the banks are foreclosing on that kid's house, that parent's house, and still expecting the both to pay. No fiscal lessons are being learned from the crisis and certainly no one seems to be getting more creative because of it.
ESADE's white paper also includes the fact that, while five percent of the Spanish population are small business owners, less than half of these "independent companies" has two or more employees. Only a mere ten percent, or five out of every thousand small businesses, has ten or more employees. This goes to show how many of the Spanish do share a desire with most cultures to be their own bosses, but that it stops there. There are, of course, freelancers, particularly in the architecture industry and others impossibly hit by the crisis, who, following their two years of government-funded unemployment, try to outsource themselves to any job they can get. And there are the shopkeepers. But the majority of these people aren't Zara's Amancio Ortega, who went from owning one clothing shop 40 years ago to being one of the five richest men in the world, but rather they usually only open just one shop or bar, as part of creating a legacy to pass down to their children. They rarely think of opening an online store, which is a much lower-risk investment, and they don't consider whether that's what their children would like to do anyway.
In fact, according to the 2012 report by European Commission's Eurostat, Spanish SMBs score average or below average against other EU member states on their ten points of evaluating small businesses, with the exception of Spain doing above average on "Thinking small first." Spain scores well below the EU average on entrepreneurship, access to finance, state aid and public procurement, and internationalization. It just goes to show that Spain's small businesses may be good at thinking independently, but only if small and local.
To compound the country's economic problems even more, with fewer job prospects at lower salaries at home, Spanish university grads are looking off the peninsula, causing a brain drain that could be irreparable if and when their home economy bounces back. The Spanish National Statistics Institute revealed last year that twice as many of Spain's youth are currently emigrating than were in 2010. This creates a huge risk for the nation's future.
Castellanos are fond of saying poco a poco or little by little. In the meantime, SmartPlanet is happy to continue to highlight the technology and innovation of the few and the proud here in Spain, those still willing to fall on their asses as they go against the grain to start their own businesses.
Photos: La Colmena/ "Lazarillo de Tormes" by Goya, Wikipedia
Feb 17, 2013
Thanks. Thanks for this article. We are not educated to follow our dreams. I had to learn it from failing once, twice... And recovering, trying again and again and again. But most people can't think on being their own bosses or being happy by doing their own projects too.
I always repeat the same thing: follow your dreams. And then go out of Spain!
Here you can't afford taxes, creating a company or even being freelance. Too much money to be paid before starting any project. Also, it is really difficult for us to do anything "new" here. I try, and will continue doing it, but it is not easy here.
I admire how UK residents, USA citizens and others have help, support, mental state and positive constructive economic help when creating a company. Here you can only find disgusting, annoying burocracy and taxes even before signing anything for creating your company. No. Spanish government knows how to steal, but not how to promote, to help, support or create employment or boos enterpreneurship.
I'm wondering why our political system is determined to make us the "Land of the Blind" instead of the "Land of The Opportunity"? Does the "One-Eyed King" see something we don't?
Every week-end I used to pay a fast visit this site, because Iâd like enjoyment, because this web site conations certainly fussy material. http://dresses.bridalprompageant.com/p6975339/shimmer-by-bari-jay-59611.html
I do agree with you guys that it is not a social issue however the life style is contributing to the problem. in my thesis which I just defended recently about " the importance of micro finance and its role in contributing to micro economic circulation and entrepreneurial spirit" , I found out that the major issue which tops the chain of reasons is the level of trust between Spaniards and government and banks. this argument was further supported by many researchers and scholars who are founding out that the solution is neither in just the life style nor in the motivational spirit, it lies in the trust and confidence Spaniards have with their government and financial institutions. i am not Spaniard but studied and lived for less than 2 years and from my surveys, this is also what i found.
Besides these 80ish comments, I've received about another 100 private messages. Some positive, some negative, some neutral -- all important. One thing we can all agree on is that entrepreneurship in Spain MUST be talked about more. Even though the article was quite long already, one thing that was surely missing is talking about the Spanish bureaucracy, patent law, taxes and other things that make it especially challenging to pursue your own business in Spain. And there could be another 5 articles on what even defines "an entrepreneur." As it is, we're planning to do a sequel to this piece next month. In the meantime, because of this article, I've been asked to host a Webinar and panel on the topic. With that in mind, I'd love to invite you all to TalentiaTech.com to sign up for "The Renaissance of Entrepreneurs in Spain" on Tuesday, April 30, at 1800SpainTime, 1200EST, to continue the discussion. Gracias otra vez y viva los emprendedores! :)
Interesting title for an article. I'm born in Spain and was looking forward to it. Three paragraphs in, I read "banks arenât offering loans at all anymore". That is just absurd. My brother lives in Spain and he just financed the purchase a small commercial space and 30 rental cars. I refuse to waste my time and read the remainder of the article. How can you make such dumb statements and call yourselves SmartPlanet.
I hate stereotypes. Have you met Amancio Ortega? http://www.thelocal.es/page/view/amancio-ortega-the-richest-man-youve-never-heard-of
Being a spanish lad, i agree with this article, it summarizes the key points explaing what's the reason of the lack of entrepreneurship spirit. I would basically focus on education, spanish system its known for its hard work, it's true that you spend a long time doing homework, more than anywhere else in the EU, but this work is not profitable It doesn't make sense, repeating the same over and over again and if there is something you don't understand then you learn it by heart an that's all. That 's ridiculous, i had the chance to study in a french school and it works in a different way you learn to defend your arguments and have an idea of what's happening in the World. Skills like speech, debate are completly left aside In Spain and you can graduate from a Law School just by learning tons of books by heart, obviously those people hardly get a job. And in addition just a few people speak english properly being among the worst in the EU in this item. As long as that doesn't change we will have the same problems and no matter the numbers of law reforms passed by our "smart" politicians. I write about that on my own my blog from really critical point of view, i hope you guys understand: www.laveletainternacional.com! the entry is called: Preparados para el fracaso.
In Fundacion CREATE we believe what you point out from the Esade White paper: entrepreneurship is an attitude, a way life. Therefore, the earlier we work in entrepreneurial qualities (creativity, initiative, risk taking, responsibility, perseverance,...), THE BETTER. We invite you to see what schools are doing with our program in students from 10 to 15 years of age. You'd be amazed at the work done by teachers and kids. (www.fundacioncreate.org; https://twitter.com/FundCreate ; http://www.facebook.com/FundacionCreate)
German socialism and nanny state is more than Spain or US. Yet Germany seems to be improving and creating new products and processes like crazy. If socialism is the problem why is Germany doing so well?
im spanish, and the main reason because we dont start new companies is the bureaucracyl and taxes that you must pay for absolute ALL. In adittion, there are sooo many different goverments that are ready to dry our wallets with stupid conditions and taxes. i know a person who needs 5 years to obtain all the legal documents to open a fuel station here! Its absolutely crazy! In the other hand, the sensation of being silly that you have when you see 1/2 of the country living from the taxes that the other half pays (to mantain 3 millions of public employees, and soooo many people with social payments from the state... )
this is not the best prepared generation in the history of the country as they'd have you believe. It's still quite hard to find Spanish people who are proficient in English, let alone other languages. Lazarillo de tormes is not our most beloved book, because I am sure if you go out right now and start asking people on the street, many would not even know it. The quality of public education has been lowered steadily in the last decades by, mostly, socialist policitians, obsesssed with having everyone pass exams, not realizing this turns the value of qualifications closer and closer to zero. And yes, in Spain we all want to be funcionarios, to take no risks, and if possible, make a killing while not working too much (the funcionario mentality again). Entrepeneurship is not on our genes, no.
A few years ago Spain was welcoming migrant workers... now they are attempting to close that door and put the over educated folks to work doing hard labor jobs... The problem is once a degree is in hand people no longer want to do hard labor and hard labor jobs become devalued when you give them to migrants. Are we not making this same mistake in the USA?
Any society that values a degree over a marketable skill is making a fundamental error in what is valuable. As one entrepreneur at a networking event recently said, âYouâre 23 years old with your whole life ahead of you and all you can dream of is to be a public servant?â
Fact: In Spain no one expects youngster to work. Young people are not expected to work in at anything...nor for even a month in summer, until they have finished University. In contrast - American teenagers babysit, cut lawns, bag groceries, deliver newspapers...what ever. This is UNHEARD of in Spain. I have occasionally offered to pay a a teenager neighbor (here in Spain) to feed my dog while I go away for a weekend...a task that could take up maybe an hour of their leisure time. Some of the kids seemed interested, but their parents look at me as if I was crazy to expect a mere CHILD (of say 16 or 17) to "work" on a weekend. They were genuinely insulted that I would consider "exploiting" their child buy asking them to work. I have seen this attitude over and over again. When a society sees work as degrading rather than uplifting - only economic disaster can follow. It's a shame, but I believe in many cases it's Spanish parents that are the root cause for the entitlement mentality that is crushing Spain.
An interesting article, but there are lots of reasons why Spain (and other countries in Europe) doesn't have a lot of entrepreneurs. It's nice to rant about socialism, that great boogeyman trotted out by so called capitalists. It's an easy target, especially since there is not a single successful capitalist country out there to compare against. However, socialism has nothing to do with it even if it does highlight the problems. While it is easy to also blame schools (with some truth), it is also the cultures of these countries - In the middle or lower classes, taking out loans is seen as a bad thing. In America, going bankrupt (i.e. losing other people's money and thumbing your nose at them) is a right of passage (e.g. see Donal Trump). In the same vein, getting a loan for a new business in many parts of Europe is incredibly difficult. A lot of these countries were ruled by some sort of noble classes, and the people's lot was to do what they were told. You would be surprised at how prevalent this kind of thinking still is. And of course - There is corporate welfare. Not only banks bailed out, but large corporations get tax breaks, nice land deals, favorable loan rates etc. that put any start up at a huge disadvantage.
I was incredibly lucky, after living and working in the USA as an immigrant, when I decided to move to Spain (as a tourist I felt in love with Barcelona) to get there just in the middle of their incredible economic boom. Barcelona was a dream come true, what a GORGEOUS city!! I was a successful free lancer in publicity and film as a set and wardrobe designer and lived and worked there during exactly the 20 fabulous years of "money is no object". In 2005 I came back to my own country, Argentina, and in 2008 their economy collapsed. Even now I deeply regret my coming back home, since Barcelona is still in my blood, in my heart, in my mind... I ADORE that city and its inhabitants and now it all seems a dream, all those years I lived there. I lived in the USA ( Chicago) in Italy (Lerici and Rome) am from Italian descent and can say that to me NOTHING that I experienced in those countries compares with life in Barcelona. I would repeat my twenty years there to the end of days if I could, and I don't care about the state of the economy or the corruption of its politicians (do you know of a country without corrupt politicians??). Quality of living is what counts, nothing else (well, weather of course).
If you wrote this about black or brown people then this article would be labeled racist. The fact that you would write such a hack piece about the Spanish is inconceivable. If anything, this is an indictment of the socialist and fascist policies of the Spanish government which are being emulated in this country by the current administration.
First of all I apologize for not being able to read all the way down your exciting comments. But what I've read so far is that some of you think socialism is the root cause of Spanish crash. Well, I think socialism is not the actual cause, but one more evidence of the real source of the problem. Spanish people is known by their lay back lifestyle, their "siesta" and "fiesta", "tapas", night clubs and amusement "antros" ... All that is not related to hard work, commitment and sacrifice, which entrepreneurship demands. As an Spanish citizen that has spent his whole life in that country I know Spanish people is mainly concern about rights, and less focused on chores. We also love and demand a sugar-daddy-government to get all kind of fancy services for free, when (as we all should know) there's nothing at all free. We don't want freedom. We rather prefer the safety net of a social machinery capable of rescuing us when something goes wrong: unlimited unemployment wages, free healthcare and drugs, free schools and colleges ... We vote for socialists politicians because we are left winged; we vote for those who promise (and lie) to give us all that. The truth is that we cannot afford it anymore. The whole system is starting to crash, and politicians are taking what they consider their part using the unlimited power we have gave them. Socialism isn't the real root cause of the lack of entrepreneur spirit. It's another effect of the actual cause, which is immaturity. We want it all, and we want it now; but we're not involved in getting it by ourselves. Instead we claim that politicians should solve the problem, when they are part of it. We are not taught in schools that big reward comes after big effort. Neither we get to that conclusion later. So we don't take risks and bet for the easy way instead. AsÃ nos va ...
This is ideological drivel. The current economic collapse in Spain came about much as in the US: it was the collapse of a real-estate bubble, a very capitalist event that in the US was pushed by the Ayn Randist Allan Greenspan and other deregulators who undid the protections built after the Great Depression. Unregulated capitalist speculation took down the US and Eurozone economies, which are still struggling to recover after four years of foundering and floundering. You might have noticed that the UK is also tanking, and the new conservative government has warned the people to prepare for a decade or more of austerity. The Franco dictatorship did create a generation of security-seekers, much as did the Great Depression --a prior example of entrepreneurial capitalist failure-- in the US. The Great Depression was not the result of socialism: it was deregulated finance speculative capital that generated it. Spain is not lacking in entrepreneurs; some are moving to other countries now, ready to start anew, while others are forging ahead at home. What about the renowned Basque industries? What about the high-speed trains that Spaniards are building in Dubai for $7 billion? The entrepreneurial US has not a single high-speed train yet, because old monopolies do not give them space. What about the solar-energy farm at SolÃºcar? In the American colonies, Spaniards were/are often caricatured as the Gallego (all Spaniards were so called, even when not from Galicia) who owned the small businesses and worked devotedly at them all the time. The Catalans, also, were known for their business acumen. After Franco, Spain exploded into new businesses, and until recently Spain has been around the fifth economic power in Europe, next to Germany, UK, France, and Italy. The current corruption scandals in Spain are not socialist; Rajoy's PP is the leading right-wing pro-capitalist entrepreneurial party (the Spanish Socialists in PSOE never challenged capitalism, btw). Why not do an article about corruption in Wall Street, where value is not produced, but redistributed among speculators?
As is ever the case, I see as many opinions about what people think as there are people. That never changes. So perhaps if we are looking for real change, we could start by asking different questions which lead us to a different place. Instead of asking why it is this way, (which tends to lead into never-ending debate and psychological analysis,) perhaps it would be of greater benefit to ask proactively âwhat wants to shift?â not what we want to shift, but rather what it is that wants to shift in a greater sense? What is the potential present right now that is demanding our attention and focus? Finding the question that holds the most power for a shift and following it. Thanks Jennifer for stirring the source and getting us all moving. It has revealed so much! X journalist turned coach â ironically it took living in Spain (for over a decade now) to really evolve the desire to be an entrepreneur. For that I will never be able to thank Spain enough!
I have just read half of the article. I do not need to read the rest because it is always the same stupidity. The author suggests that there is not debate at school and the proper article annulas any chance to answer what is enterpreneurship. Isnt being enterpreneur forming STOP eviction networks to support people thrown out of their homes just for solidarity? Is being enterpreneur meet thousand of people in a square because one thing that the reality is not fair. What the hell is the people that yesterday avoid the eviction of a 85 years old in A CoruÃ±a. What the hell are you talking about. What if the problem were simply that where are periphery of the current system. Why always complaining about the "oposiciones" when still Spain have less public workers than the european, french, germany and english administration. Working hard? for what? and for how long? In which world you poor liberals are living? Ecological crisis, peak oil, financial crisis. Evething indicate that in a short term short time works will be needed for a sustainable and more equal society. Social relations and strong communities also make societies more dynamic. All this things also called http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship In short, it is you Jennifer and all liberals who must introduce deep debates in your forums.
Having lived in Spain for 6 years, I can say for sure that generally speaking, ( there are always exceptions ), children are not given the incentives within the family to aspire beyond getting married and being able to take good care of their children and also their parents when they become elderly. Sadly most girls look for a ' good ' marriage rather than a career. I remember asking one little girl of about 6 years old what she wanted to do when she left school and she replied that she would like to work in a shop selling clothes. I asked her if she would'nt prefer to have her own clothes shop rather than work for someone else and she looked at me as though I were mad. Times are changing a little, but with Spain in recession, many young men and women are looking for employment within the tourist trade in other Spanish speaking countries such as Mexico. Education within the schools is required to make young people think outside the box
I am not the traditional young Spanish that is reflected in the article. Spanish talent as stated is moving abroad. I believe that this emigration of talent will try and change the current mentality. At the end of the day, Spain once had the biggest empire in the world...entrepreneurship and ambition created this empire, so it is in our genes, we just need to "rediscover" it!
A very interesting and well-argued article but I'd like to add a few points if I may ... 1. The current cost of social secuity payments plus various other costs are a strong disincentive to setting up your own business even with the recent changes/rebates for under 30s. 2. As an ex-University teacher, I often felt that many of my students were in the wrong place and were essentially following their parents dream of a 'proper' education. They'd have been better off studying something more practical and would then have the skills to set up their own small business. The current resurgence in interest in FormaciÃ³n Profesional bears this out. 3. Perhaps I'm sticking my neck out but certainly talking to friends and associates here in Barcelona, I get the feeling that there are an increasing number of 'emprendedores' here in Catalonia as compared to other parts of Spain. (This is a sensation and I'm prepared to be corrected by statistics, by the way!)
Congratulations, Jennifer for your article. Being Spaniard and entrepreneur myself, I feel that you describe accurately the current situation and its causes. I would only like to add that, from my point of view, there is also some kind of cultural barrier that makes us difficult to go out of Spain to make business. It is also the language barrier, but not only. We have been for generations relying only on the domestic market, and now it is difficult for Spanish small companies to grow with this limitation. Things are changing now, but it will probably take time. Some of the comments to your article are offensive and, most important, inaccurate. ("... culture of lazy and corrupt people ... " they say). I have to admit that we have earned a bad reputation, but I also have to say that these are clichÃ©s. Most people I know work very hard to earn their lives, same as in any other country. Thanks Juan Carlos
In research for a sequel article to this one? You may contact me via the my name in the authorship. Thanks to everyone for commenting!
@JenniferKRiggins even though I tried creating my own company 3 different times, and now work as a freelance, I am afraid I have to stop on this because of the vast and excessive bureaucracy, taxes, etc. We could be big, but are educated on failing, not being "enterpreneur", etc. It is amazing how most people live under the hard branch of the still alive dictatorship. We are taught to obbey in a more modern way than before. I am happy to have started looking out of the edge. The edge of spaniard's typical mind, which has always told me I will fail, but not "pursue your dreams until you catch them"!
@wilko8888 Maybe your mother has enough money to be a guarantee but most spaniards who want to start their companies find your case is an exception. Please be respectful.
I have read in several places that when a home is foreclosed on in Spain, that unless the bank sale of the home pays off the mortgage the lendee is still liable for the remainder of the mortgage. So if a person buys a house at $250,000 and is foreclosed on when they still owe $230,000, they are basically screwed if the bank turns around and repossess it and sells it for only $150,000 because of the collapsed housing market. Now the people have no home and a mortgage for $80,000. I am told this has happened a lot in Spain because the banks short sell everything so they are not stuck managing tens of thousands of repossessed properties. That little catch in the laws really makes it tough for a family to recover in a bad economy. I also heard Spain did the same as the US and loosened banking rules to allow unemployment benefits to be counted as income on mortgage applications. When the benefits run out the people cannot make payments any more. That is supposed to be a huge factor behind the seemingly endless government extensions on unemployment benefits in Spain.
"Crony capitalism" is no better than socialism for the masses. Crony capitalism is closer to feudalism.
Many years ago, in a faraway Asturias, the population in riots were creating problems. The solution: let's drug them with public money for three generations (big industry, high salaries, let them steal money from these companies with dirty businesses) and they will not give us problems any more. It also happened in other regions: let's sing a lullaby of public money raining for free, falling from above like sweet fruit from the trees. And now, we don't start even an R&D small project without a 80% grant; forget about a new company or new business.
...until you run out of other people's money. But this syndrome is not unique to Spain; What you describe has long infected almost all of Europe, and is now infecting the US as well. For example, Greeks want to work a couple of decades and then retire at 50, and then expect a 1st-world standard of living while doing so. It's just not possible. And I don't think that entrepreneurship and "siestas" are mutually exclusive; I frequently take afternoon naps; it's one of the rewards I get for working early in the morning or late at night and on weekends.
...neo-Keynesian cheap money policy. If the fans of Ayn Rand had any influence at all, the banks would not have been bailed out. But thanks for playing.
I'm spanish, and I live in Spain. this landscape you draw exists in Spain, and we know well where we can find it. However this is not at all the environement you can find if you live in Spain. it is true that is a common situation you can perfectly find in some areas of southern Spain. Never the less we have a modern society and life style, which is very apreciated by many of our northern and anglo-saxon partners.
I have lived in Spain for 20 year (I'm a 52 year old American). My 87 year old mother-in-law has a degree in Chemistry. My sister in law is a MD and my other sister in law has a PhD in Geo-Physics. My personal doctor is an MD and I believe way over 50% of doctors in this country are female. Were you visiting a gypsy family....or what? If you ask a 6 year old American girl what she want to be - she may well answer "a princess". I think you're way off base and out of touch here. I know more American girls looking for the dream of the "perfect husband" to take care of her than Spanish girls with that aim.
Iâm incredibly shocked Mr. jensenp13. You wrote you have lived in Spain for six years but, can you tell me where and when? Are you sure you have lived here? You described a bad stereotype of our culture. It could be true forty years ago but this country has changed. In fact, there are a lot of young people well prepared in this country. Itâs sad they have to leave our country although, and believe me, their objective it is not to get a good husband/wife. I don
To your excellent points: 1) Similar headwinds face U.S. entrepreneurs. The amount of regulatory red tape I now face regarding health insurance, workplace compliance, 401K fiduciary responsibility, etc., etc., is much higher today than when I started my business 20 years ago. Frankly, if I had to start my business today, I'm not sure I'd bother. 2) If attendance in the graduate class I teach is any sort of indication, many students are finding themselves forced to pursue post-graduate education. My guess is this is not by choice, but simply because they can't find a job. 3) I'm glad to hear there's some good news in Barcelona. You read the papers, and all you see are horrific numbers like 26% unemployment. Entrepreneurial small businessmen and women are the backbone of any economy. If the Spanish economy is to be 'saved,' it will be saved by the emprendedores, not the government.
Unfortunately the world views of nations like Greece and Spain are largely controlled by what the liberal media shows. Which for the last few years have been protests and riots over any mention of cuts to bloated welfare state staples such as pensions, unemployment benefits and welfare benefits. While trying to portray the people of Greece and Spain as victims of draconian cuts they are instead showing the rest of the world how spoiled the people were by unreasonable benefits and the expectation they will last forever. It is hard to feel bad for the people of a nation when the news reports tell me they are rioting because they lost their lump sum 2 years of pay for a person laid off or their 2 years + of unemployment benefits. Or because their 110% of salary pension for working 20 years with guaranteed 5% per year increases are being cut. I know many unemployed Americans who would love this option. "Here, if you are receiving paro unemployment benefits you have the option of capitalizacion, which allows you to write a detailed business plan and, if approved, you may receive around 80 percent of your two years of benefits upfront to invest into your own small business." Yet I also know many Americans who would love 2 years of unemployment benefits and would scoff at the idea of losing 20% of the money and having to work to create a business plan and start new a company. When there is little incentive to work, people will not work. "Almost five hundred years later, Lazaros tale still paints a perfect picture of Spanish society."
Juan, I seek your opinion as a firsthand observer: Paul Krugman of the New York Times claims the woes of the southern EU nations, including Spain, are due to the lack of a sovereign currency: "Itâs no fun being Prime Minister of a debtor nation without its own currency. Unlike the US or the UK, Spain has no easy options." I feel this has little to do with the problem. The UK implemented an austerity program in 2011 very similar to that recently implemented by Rajoy, consisting of significant tax increases and modest government spending cuts. The immediate result in the UK was a double-dip recession, despite the UK's sovereign currency. Raising taxes and imposing modest spending cuts amounts to austerity for the tax-paying citizen, not for the apparatchiks and cronies of government. I don't believe that government (of either Spain, or the U.S.) can tax, or spend its way to prosperity. Nor, in the case of the U.S. and others, can we devalue our currency to prosperity. However, perhaps we can *grow* our way back to prosperity. It seems to me that reducing the tax burden on citizens, and reducing unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and regulation, is a better way to solve the problem. Free the citizenry to create their own prosperity. But before that can happen, government has to get out of our way, off of our backs, and out of our wallets. As Reagan once so pithily put it, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem." What say you?
The Spanish economy? The stereotypes in this article? The Great Depression? The Great Recession? The implosion of the Eurozone? The 1%% Corruption? But thanks for your minimal contribution.
This country is totally a junk in EU. If you look closely to the people in Spain, their mentality, lifestyle, education, financial status etc, you may find out that this country does not worth a single cent of investment from whoever. Only stupid Chinese and Japanese are still injecting money top this shithole
Yes you have degree's but who is really funding your lifestyle? Do you grow food, work in a mine or manufacture something? If not you are nothing more than a leach who lives off of the effort of others. The educated elite have concocted a system that provides undue reward and privilege to those who have the ability and desire to play the diploma game. When everyone has a PhD who is going to tend the crops for your food? Or Keep the power and water flowing? I hope someday you can gain an appreciation for the common working man who makes your lifestyle possible.
...that only quite recently the Obama Administration was trying to convince us that we should be emulating Spain's wonderful "green jobs economy" as the shining path to prosperity. What went wrong? But I highly concur; The American media does give a very skewed vision of Europe to its consumers. The narrative they most like to repeat is of a continent of citizens enjoying a standard of living substantially less than ours, and yet mostly contented to do so in sacrifice to higher Progressive social ideals.
...Krugman gives "economists" a bad name. Also consider that "austerity" is proportionately more painful where the government represents a greater percentage of the economy overall, as it does in these "social democracies". As with drug addicts, "stimulus" is less and less effective, and the withdrawal pains are far worse.
All of those issues come down to cheap money and the transfer of wealth by means other than productivity. And corruption on Wall Street would be a non-factor if it wren't for the unholy alliance in Washington.that keeps propping it back up. Thanks for playing.