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The economic downturn has placed a new focus on how to generate more “job creators” in our economies and made the idea of a global celebration of entrepreneurship as a path back to positive growth rates especially relevant. This past Saturday marked the 100-day countdown to what is now the largest entrepreneurship event in the world, kicking off November 16th, 2009 - Global Entrepreneurship Week - and I am asking for your help.
Although the reputation of the U.S. has gone through some bumpy air of late, we have consistently been held in high regard for our entrepreneurial prowess and culture. Even during these times of great economic stress, we are flooded with enthusiastic visitors from overseas (both in person and on-line) searching to understand and replicate the ecosphere that has fostered so much job creation and growth.
It is inevitable that a healthy economy will create new job opportunities, while also displacing existing jobs, as successful ventures survive and grow while others fail– even in good times. The process of job creation and economic growth relies on the constant “churning” of firms. Even so, new firms are responsible for the large majority of net new jobs in the U.S. From 1980-2005, firms less than five years old accounted for all net job growth in the country. This is why we need to approach labor rules carefully.
During this past Week I have been “Globe Blogging” and have reported from the road about various Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 16-22) policy events among others from around the world. Entrepreneurs, development organizations, policy leaders and entrepreneurship researchers lent their voices and experiences to some series policy dialogues. When top-level officials engaged in Global Entrepreneurship Week they sent a message to their constituents about the government’s support for entrepreneurship, making young minds even more comfortable with the idea of doing good through the marketplace. Let’s hope decision makers will be motivated to more urgently enact regulatory reforms and advance other polices to bolster their nation’s entrepreneurial climate.
The idea of an entrepreneur’s or start-up visa that grants high-skilled immigrants the right to stay if they start job-generating businesses is gaining traction. Last Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal article laid out the case for it and the next day it was discussed both at a meeting I attended on how to boost innovation in the U.S and at the President’s Jobs Summit as a way to create jobs.
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.
For the past five years, the National Dialogue on Entrepreneurship has helped expand the discourse about how to best to advance innovation and catalyze economic growth beyond “small business” to debates on science, technology, engineering and research. While we will continue to advance discussion driven by developments in the all important innovation economy, the initiative will carry a new name - the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship (PDE). PDE will pick up exactly where NDE left off -– broadening attention to the field of entrepreneurship and connecting thought leaders looking to advance it.
I have always liked the story of the CEO who sends two shoe salesmen to Africa. When they report back, one says “Bad news, they don’t wear shoes here”. The other reports excitedly “Wonderful news boss, they have no shoes”.
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.
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.
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