When the global economic crisis hit Portugal in 2011, it hit hard and had devastating effects on the nation’s economy and employment rates but out of adversity a new breed of Portuguese entrepreneur has arisen and could be pushing the country towards a new tech boom.
So dire was the situation in Portugal at the time that the government had to negotiate a bailout package of 78bn euro ($103bn; £62bn) with the European Union in exchange for slapping the country with highly restrictive austerity measures. Portugal’s economy was in the worst recession the country has seen for forty years.
One of the effects attributed to the recession and the austerity measures put in place is the perilously high jobless rate which has almost doubled since 2008, shooting up from 7.6% to 14.1% in June of this year. This lead to many young people being out of work, with the situation being far worse for those aged 15-24 as one in three is out of work, and struggling to find employment despite many having qualifications.
With an inability to gain employment elsewhere, the country has seen a boom in entrepreneurship in recent years as people consider turning towards start-ups and launching their own businesses. One such area that has really taken off is engineering graduates and techy types turning their hands to app development and other digital projects.
Such is the current trend for entrepreneurship in Portugal that many start-up incubators have sprung up in order to nurture emerging business opportunities and provide office space or support for these new companies. The Portuguese government has also seen fit to place its faith in these start-ups, despite coming off the back of austerity measures, and has created an investment body called Portugal Ventures which will invest 20m euros of public funds into start-up firms.
Portugal managed to pull itself out of recession in 2013 and now looks like it might be on an upward curve towards success as the country looks to build itself up again. Despite this, unemployment remains high in the country and skilled labour comes relatively cheaply because of this. With strong trade links with Spain and being an integral part of the European Union, Portugal could provide a great opportunity to invest in or try a start-up of your own.
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