Let's Shrink the Growing World of Entrepreneurship
This blog was originally written for Huffington Post.
There's nothing like a global economic crisis to bring the world together. Devastating economic events that started in the late 2000s showed the world, once again, that the welfare of one nation is linked to the welfare of others.
Long understood to be the engine of the U.S. economy, the world is now embracing entrepreneurship as one of the primary means of building a long-term recovery. From Albania to Angola, Kyrgyzstan to Kosovo, Canada to Costa Rica and beyond, nations are seeking ways to educate, promote and support founders and to help them grow their companies. This is an exciting, evolutionary development happening right before our eyes.
Ironically, for this spreading global fervor to make a sustainable impact, the world of entrepreneurship must shrink. I don't mean fewer countries should be interested in attracting and supporting startups. By all means, join the movement. I mean we should consolidate resources, reduce redundancies, eliminate geographic barriers. No country, no state, no community can make an appreciable impact on entrepreneurship if it's focused solely within its own borders, independent of what's happening in the global context. That's because entrepreneurs worldwide face common challenges for which there are common solutions. We need to leverage the shared experiences of the world's entrepreneurs and put those solutions into the hands of founders everywhere.
But how do we harness these lessons, best practices, great content, and make them easily and affordably accessible worldwide? That's exactly what those of us on the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council for Entrepreneurship asked ourselves last year when we convened in Dubai. We were looking for a way to help advance entrepreneurs on a global scale. We didn't just want to help founders think globally, we wanted to deliver a tangible value that also would benefit their communities. So we did what many an innovative entrepreneur has done when looking for a solution -- we repurposed an existing asset to fit a growing need.
Enter Global Entrepreneurship Week, the annual worldwide celebration going on this very week, that has been engaging the globe's entrepreneurs, support organizations, thought leaders and policymakers for years. Its website is a ready-made global network of content curators from hundreds of countries -- the perfect platform to marshal resources that can be accessible to entrepreneurs around the world, for free. The Global Entrepreneurship Library was born.
It's simple. Entrepreneurs, supporters and experts can upload advice, case studies, white papers and other resources to the Library, and anyone interested can help themselves to information that is listed by country, language, topic, type, market and stage of business.
While the Library is a resource from a practical sense, it also represents a global first. Never before has an entrepreneur in Mali had on-demand access to free legal advice from the UK, or an NGO in Estonia been able to tap the secrets of entrepreneurial success from Canada, or an innovator in Cyprus been able to study challenges and opportunities for entrepreneurs in China (from an MIT researcher, no less).
The Library also is a two-way street. Users not only can access content, they can tell us what's missing and what's needed. The community that embraces the Library will be the community that guides it, and its content will meet a higher standard because it will be vetted by peers.
I've always told entrepreneurs that if they have a smart phone in their pocket, the world is their market. That's certainly true for founders who want to do business globally. The Global Entrepreneur Library extends this promise by putting untold resources at the fingertips of entrepreneurs and the organizations dedicated to helping them succeed.
We at the Global Agenda Council for Entrepreneurship have high hopes for the Library. We hope it becomes a powerful platform for shared learning. We hope it helps facilitate a global dialogue and enables partnerships that would otherwise not be possible. We hope it becomes a child of the globe, supported collectively by many. And, most importantly, we hope that it's valued by the world of entrepreneurship.