The entrepreneurial potential can be attributed to motivational factors that show an entrepreneurial opportunity in a worthwhile and achievable way. The Amway Entrepreneurial Spirit Index (AESI) aims to capture three key motivational determinants that strengthen the entrepreneurial potential. The AESI integrates respondents’ opinions on:

  • Desirability: whether respondents desire to start a business
  • Feasibility: whether respondents feel prepared to start a business
  • Stability against social pressure: whether respondents would not let their social environment, such as family and friends, dissuade them from starting a business.

This year, the global AESI score is 50. Looking at its single dimensions, 56 percent perceive starting a business as desirable, 46 percent think they possess the necessary capabilities, and 49 percent would not let their family or friends stop them from becoming an entrepreneur. In comparison to the results in 2015, the AESI remains at the same high level. However, similar to the entrepreneurial potential, men score higher on the AESI than women13 and the AESI drops for the respondents aged 50 years or older.

Looking at the individual dimensions of the AESI for the different groups allows for a more detailed understanding. Women score lower on each dimension than men, with the most prominent difference for feasibility. With regard to different age groups, the picture becomes more complex. While the desire to start a business decreases with increasing age, the respondents in the age group 35 to 49 years reach the highest value for feasibility. Finally, the stability against social pressure is lowest for respondents age 50 years or older. Both younger age groups reach a similar value.

The results show that in countries with higher AESI scores, the entrepreneurial potential is higher as well. Building on these results, policy makers could target shortcomings in different demographic groups and derive specific measures to further increase the pool of potential entrepreneurs.

Self-employment is a special form of entrepreneurship. Compared to being in a paid position, self-employed people enjoy several benefits such as being able to organize work more freely and mostly having higher incomes.  Advantages, however, come with certain risks as well. The self-employed typically face distinctly higher efforts and more risks such as lower protection, insecurity, or perhaps having to deal with the consequences if they would fail. For people for whom the benefits outweigh the risks, self-employment may be the right choice. Last, but not least, the society benefits from self-employment as well. Increases in self-employment have been found to be related to decreases in unemployment.

Self-employment currently receives increased attention. Partly, this comes from the proliferation of digital services that advertise jobs between potential vendors and potential customers. Jobs range from micro tasks, over ordinary services, to highly specialized development projects. In line with this recent trend, the AGER surveyed people about their expectation of how self-employment will develop in the next five years. And in fact, 40 percent of the respondents think that the amount of self-employed will increase, compared to 22 percent expecting a decrease. For most countries, this expectation holds across age groups. However, the results reveal a strong age gap in many East European countries. There, respondents aged 50 years or older are notably less optimistic about the future of self-employment than the younger age groups. Yet still, the vast majority of people expect self-employment to grow in the future.