Colmena66 survey: Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurs struggling 15 mo.’s after onset of pandemic
A survey of some 400 entrepreneurs conducted by nonprofit Colmena66 revealed that 21% of participants confirmed they are self-employed due to financial need, 28% work a full-time job while promoting their business, 33% stressed the lack of available financing, and 67% are not exporting, so they have lower income than those who are.
Colmena66 — a program of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust — polled participants of its Red de Recursos de Apoyo Empresarial initiative from Dec. 2-21, 2020, gathering 419 responses from entrepreneurs in 59 municipalities.
“We’ll publish these data and many more in our annual impact report in the coming months. However, when we analyzed the results of the survey, we realized that we had to immediately share them with incubators, accelerators, universities, investors, associations. of merchants, government agencies, foundations, media, and everyone who contributes to the Puerto Rico’s socioeconomic development,” said Denisse Rodríguez-Colón, executive director of Colmena66.
The industries that participated the most in the survey were: retail (with 27%); professional services (with 15%); and creative industries (with 13%). Participants had the opportunity to learn about trends related to the profile of the island’s entrepreneurs, the profile of their businesses, and the handling and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses.
Participants represeting the manufacturing industry mentioned the infrastructure affected by earthquakes as their greatest challenge, and participants from the professional services industry face challenges in the digital transformation of the business and adapting to remote work.
Participants in the construction industry need technical assistance in contracting with the government, while restaurants and hotels need assistance in matters related to operational efficiency, according to the survey.
“We’ve confirmed that entrepreneurs identify solutions to problems and grow in the face of challenges,” said Science Trust CEO Lucy Crespo. “We certainly saw this after Hurricane María, the earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic. These entrepreneurs need our support now and, in the future, so they can continue to solve problems, close the inequality gap, boost our economy and build resilience.”
More than 90% of business support organizations are nonprofit and need to raise funds to be able to drive the programs they design based on the survey results, Colmena66 executives said.