February 14, 2013
Interviewed by: David Snow
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Entrepreneurs and Growth in the Americas

Entrepreneurs and growth-stage companies are critical to economic growth, and EY is committed to supporting the ecosystem surrounding entrepreneurs, says Herb Engert, Americas Strategic Growth Markets Leader at EY. Engert discusses the centrality of EY’s Strategic Growth Forums to its engagement with entrepreneur clients and private capital firms.

Entrepreneurs and growth-stage companies are critical to economic growth, and EY is committed to supporting the ecosystem surrounding entrepreneurs, says Herb Engert, Americas Strategic Growth Markets Leader at EY. Engert discusses the centrality of EY’s Strategic Growth Forums to its engagement with entrepreneur clients and private capital firms.

Privcap: What is the importance of the Strategic Growth Forums to EY?

Herb Engert, EY: Yes, Ernst and Young is very committed to serving entrepreneurs around the world, actually. And I think what we’re trying to do, through the various program that we have– our entrepreneur of the year, and all of our programs supporting entrepreneurs, venture capital, private equity, any of our pre-IPO, our communities, and our strategic partners– we’re trying to support entrepreneurs. We’re trying to support the ecosystem, which we think is critical to supporting these entrepreneurs who are the job creators. They’re actually innovating. They’re actually thriving in this economy, which has otherwise been pretty tough.

Privcap: What is the importance of growth-stage companies to the global economy?

Engert: Middle market companies are what some people call small, we call high growth. I think they’re absolutely critical to the broader market and America’s market, but to the global economy. Because small and medium size companies, they actually expand internationally faster nowadays. They innovate, they actually disrupt industries. And so I think that they’re absolutely critical. We see lots of larger companies engaging with smaller to medium size companies now, because they realize that they’re bringing disruptive ideas to the table. That they can either partner with them or potentially, in some cases, acquire those companies. But I think they’re absolutely critical. What we have to do is try to make sure that a lot of those businesses can scale. And that’s where growth private equity, that’s where financing alternatives, and kind of getting people over some of those humps, really is what makes a difference. 

Privcap: You cover the Americas, broadly defined – what is the opportunity for private equity capitai you are finding in Latin America?

I cover South America– so Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, maybe to a lesser extent but it’s going to evolve. And so I’ve done some deals down there. And it’s really, I think, we’re still early days. And so family business, as it relates to that, is absolutely critical. Because the number of family businesses that are down in South America and in Central America are just significant. And there’s some wonderful fabulous businesses that if you take, again, some of that growth, private equity, that could get them over a hump. That could get them to a monetization event. I think that’s a big area for us that we’re focusing on, and bringing that to bear. And we want to actually do a lot more to evolve some of those emerging markets and let them mature. And I think private equity, private capital, is a big aspect of that.

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