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President Obama has made it a priority to address one of America’s greatest challenges, meeting energy demand in a sustainable way by transforming the ways we produce and consume energy. He assembled a team that could help him in this task, such as science adviser John Holdren, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and energy adviser Carol Browner. Congress in turn is working on climate change legislation that could foster a new wave of energy innovation. Senators John Kerry and Joe Lieberman have recently unveiled their new energy bill that would introduce fees on carbon emissions. Other recent developments in Washington have included entrepreneurs, which signals a government push to leverage their risk-taking behavior and the power of individual innovators.
Washington has been busy on several fronts important to entrepreneurs these past few months. One we must not forget to reflect on is the recent U.S. Senate approval of a bipartisan-sponsored amendment to the financial reform bill that protects against creating new barriers for high-growth entrepreneurs seeking to raise angel capital. This “Angel Amendment” addressed two of the original provisions in the bill that had the potential of creating regulatory obstacles for entrepreneurs raising angel financing and weakening the pool of angel capital by reducing the number of accredited angel investors.
Brazil is more than just the popular future host of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. It is a very promising economy and the country of origin of many global challenger companies, such as Embraer, Marcopolo, and Natura. Economic analysts group the country with the most promising emerging markets, Russia, India and China, which together form the “BRIC countries.” Is entrepreneurship responsible for part of Brazil’s economic development? A look at some of the trends in entrepreneurship in Brazil suggests so, and the country’s efforts to boost its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship promise to sustain its growth in the coming years.
Last June, President Obama announced in Cairo, Egypt that the U.S. government will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship to identify how we can deepen ties between leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Muslim communities around the world. Throughout April leading up to the April 26th summit, I will comment on the state of entrepreneurship in some of the nations participating which I will be attending in the hope of prompting further observations from readers.
Haitians have received help from governments, the private sector and the philanthropic community around the world to deal with the awful devastation, but the long term goal of rebuilding a nation and constructing institutions from scratch will require sustained commitment to the country. I can’t think of a better group to enlist in this task than Haitian entrepreneurs. The needs of the businesses affected in this region are extraordinary, but so is their potential to become agents for restoration.
We have long argued that the American model for development assistance could improve dramatically if entrepreneurship becomes a stronger element of economic development efforts. Unfortunately, the importance of new firm creation is a concept that has yet to gain relevance in traditional development models, such as the Washington Consensus. However, there are a few actors who understand the power of entrepreneurship and have been using it to improve lives. Diaspora entrepreneurs are using their experience and understanding about entrepreneurship to invest in new ventures in their country of origin. These transnational entrepreneurs view a globe of porous borders.
So we know that entrepreneurs are the primary engines of job creation in the United States. Research study after research study has confirmed that it is young firms that drive improvements in the employment situation. From 1980–2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the country. In 2007 alone, young firms (1-5 years old) accounted for nearly two-thirds of job creation. We also know more than half of the companies on the 2009 Fortune 500 list were launched during a recession or bear market, along with nearly half of the firms on the 2008 Inc. list of America’s fastest-growing companies. In light of all this evidence and in face of the employment crisis in the country, how can we truly support the entrepreneurs behind these young firms?
When President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address is still unclear. However, with 80 percent of the population believing that new economic growth and jobs will come from entrepreneurs, discussion around what his address should include in terms of policies that encourage new start-ups is already underway.
Since the economic crisis broke out, capitalism has been under the microscope. Many have blamed evil businesses and market forces for the financial meltdown, and have lost confidence in private-sector engagement strategies for recovery. Luckily, in this country many more have experienced the positive impact of entrepreneurship either directly and indirectly. In a March 2009 survey, 63% of respondents said they “prefer giving individuals the incentives they need to start their own businesses as opposed to allowing the government to create new jobs directly.” A look at the role of new businesses in the economy reveals that it is not a matter of rejecting capitalism but rather of allowing more entrepreneurs into the economy.
America’s heritage as a nation of immigrants is a source of tremendous economic strength, and current research confirms that immigrants who have been attracted to the U.S. for its pro-growth culture and excellent universities often stay and create valuable, fast-growing startup firms. High-skill immigrants in particular have two significant positive impacts on growth – first as critical engineering and science talent at U.S. companies and second as potential entrepreneurs of new U.S.-based companies. Despite the nearly universal bi-partisan support for high-skill immigration, the existing system of immigration into the U.S. has become a disaster. Visas and green cards are bureaucratic, the number of high-skill migrants to the U.S. is capped at an artificially low level, and security laws have made travel to the U.S. after 9/11 difficult. America now risks losing its attraction as a “brain magnet” in contrast to other nations that are reforming in order to compete for the critical resource known as human capital.
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