Written by: Frédérique Lissoir, Partner/Lawyer, Propulsio 360° Business Consultants LLP, Canadian Delegate, G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit 

During our work session at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit (YEA) on the necessity of a mobility visa for entrepreneurs, it appeared very clear that entrepreneurs from all over the world were puzzled and frustrated by the lengthy administrative processes behind migration, research, recruitment and development of businesses abroad.

To this day, entrepreneurs struggle with mobility issues when it comes to recruiting talent abroad or trying to expand into particular markets. Not only do entrepreneurs need to do some solid market research and roll-out good expansion plans in foreign countries, but they are facing administrative challenges that vary dramatically in each and every single jurisdiction.

Basically, the vast majority participants thought that there must be a better way to foster innovation and entrepreneurship across borders. The solution that was put forward was the creation of a special type of multi-entry visa allowing short-term visits in a given country. Simplifying the process for entrepreneurs is essential to attract innovative ideas, talent and investment. To do so, this visa could mimic features from Canadian programs such as the Working Holiday Visa or Co-op Visas. On the other hand, it could complete Youth Mobility Agreements that are present in many countries.

The working group also addressed existing options such as the Canadian Start-up Visa or similar programs in other countries. It appeared clear that this option was not viable for young entrepreneurs since the visa in itself is industry-specific (read mostly technology oriented), costly and administratively difficult to navigate as well as very selective. Interestingly, participants were more inclined towards a multi-entry short-term visa than gaining citizenship or permanent residency in a country, which is what most current start-up visas are leaning towards.

On this note, many suggestions were made as to the government’s place in establishing such programs. Indeed, it was discussed that not only would a mobility visa should be made available to foreign entrepreneurs in all G20 countries, but also governments should foster the internationalization of local businesses through trade missions, B2B opportunities and to transform embassies and consulates into accelerators for globalizing young businesses. To this end, easily accessible if not automatic financial aid should be offered to entrepreneurs looking to expand abroad.

Finally, it is one thing to foster international connections, but it is another to build a sustainable and scalable international ecosystem. Therefore, participants recognize that once programs would allow entrepreneurs to travel and develop their business internationally as they pleased, it would be of the utmost importance to offer ongoing support. Henceforth, the idea of an informational hub or platform helping specifically foreigners’ set-up their business in their host country. The platform could also have a mentoring component where they could benefit from local help to grow and prosper within a foreign land.

To read more from the recommendations that came from the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Berlin earlier this year, read the communique that was released here.

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