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The APEC Startup conference that just wrapped up in Seoul signaled stepped-up interest within the 21 APEC member nations in policies that promote new firm formation as ameans of “booting up” economies. Interestingly, the drive for this effort is being led not by the United States, but by South Korea which has taken big strides over the past two years to rebuild its own startup ecosystem.
The creative genius among the young is perhaps one of the least-tapped resources in many economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. If given the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as a career path and a business-friendly environment, young people can unleash their potential—creating gains for all in terms of quality of life, employment and wealth generation. This Friday, I will get a first-hand look at some of that potential as I moderate part of the African Innovation Summit—sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in coordination with Meridian International Center—that will welcome more than 60 young African entrepreneurs to Washington, DC. And later this year, thanks to a new partnership, we will see some of the continent’s most promising entrepreneurs compete during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
At a Community College Workforce Alliance meeting today here in Richmond, Virginia, there were clear signs of heightened interest in the role that community colleges can play in advancing entrepreneurship as a means of getting Americans back to work. Following support from President Barack Obama and Startup America, plus a recent announcement of a $1 million grant from the Kauffman Foundation to scale one model to more schools around the country, a new generation of educators appear intent on maximizing the potential of their communities to produce more new innovative firms.
Despite more research and data from the World Bank and OECD, while plenty of attention has been given to “SMEs” in the past, multinational government gatherings have largely ignored the importance of stimulating new high-impact startups as a prime global economic growth strategy. This needs to change.
Last November, Costa Rica joined the global movement to unleash startups by celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). The response surprised its local champions. Costa Rica´s host, Yo Emprendedor, managed to get strong support from 28 key partners from across the private, public, NGO and education sectors—including the Ministry of the Economy, the largest media group in the country and angel investors.
One of the prime reasons I founded the Public Forum Institute was a strong belief in the role ordinary citizens can play in addressing chronic stalemates on vital national policy issues. After moderating hundreds of congressionally-chaired health policy forums over the years, I conclude it will be other developments outside of top-down reform that drive improvements in health care. It seems inevitable that with so many people’s income dependent on our health care industry, even the most well-meaning politicians face a never-ending path of discourse in their efforts to improve health care without disrupting such a large chunk of the American economy. The revolution in consumer data may be just one of those new game changers.
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