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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.
Developing the human capital of young Americans is vital to keep America’s entrepreneurial economy growing. Our future entrepreneurs and their workers need the twenty-first century skills and knowledge to create successful ventures and to spur innovation in the economy. Yet education in the U.S. is struggling to stay competitive and fails to provide access to a quality educational experience for all students. Developing tomorrow’s talented, capable innovators is a challenge that will require major, entrepreneurially-driven improvements in education from pre-school through graduate school.
In the past few months, we have highlighted through articles and factsheets how public policy can make the path easier for entrepreneurship and innovation. With the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship, we hope to emphasize not only how policies can foster entrepreneurs, but also how entrepreneurship can directly be part of the answer to so many public challenges.
Times are tough. Layoffs are growing every day and despite massive government intervention, there is little talk of anything more than a slow prolonged recovery. There are a few reasons though to remain optimistic. The main one: as long as we have entrepreneurial people, jobs will be created, and when times get tough we learn to do more with less. There are many entrepreneurs out there who see new and better opportunities for innovation now we are in the midst of crisis.
Welcome to Global Entrepreneurship Week. Throughout this week, I will be reporting in from entrepreneurship policy events around the world. Global Entrepreneurship Week is engaging more than four million participants in 887 countries exploring new venture creation as a career path through mentoring activities, business plan competitions, networking events and other fun activities. It offers an extraordinary demonstration to policymakers that there is a new wave of entrepreneurialism before us and if we want to build economies and make jobs, they must quickly create the most favorable environment possible.
A growing economy constantly creates new job opportunities in new sectors, but also displaces and even destroys existing jobs. The workforce in an entrepreneurial economy must always evolve as well. Government efforts to protect jobs are often misguided, hindering growth and new job creation. Pro-growth workforce rules should instead focus on developing worker skills, allowing maximum hiring and layoff flexibility, and focus adjustment efforts on getting displaced workers into new jobs as soon as possible. Small firms employ half of all private sector employees and create 60-80 percent of net new jobs in the U.S., according to the SBA. Labor rules are one of the largest barriers to entrepreneurial ventures. The World Bank’s cross-country comparison of labor regulations shows lower job creation where workplace rules are more rigid. Labor rules must move beyond the early 20th century framework of management versus labor and encourage new firm formation as well as a dynamic, not static, worker.
Last week, I argued in favor more high-skilled immigration to bring additional entrepreneurial talent into the country for the near future. Today, I want to focus on an urgent policy issue that needs to be addressed to produce results over the long-run. Improvements in education are essential to equipping American citizens with entrepreneurial skills. Creative thinking and prudent risk-taking are no different than any other skills people are born with; they are likely to be useless unless the skill is developed through education and experience.
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to join an extraordinary group of women entrepreneurs mostly from Saudi Arabia for a lunch at the home of the Honorable Esther Coopersmith. All were both proud of their higher education in Saudi Arabia and had started companies in a wide range of businesses from construction to IT. I should not have been surprised. Starting a business in Saudi Arabia is relatively easy. Its “ease of starting a business” rank is 13 out of 183 economies, according the World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 data. This is not surprising. Saudi Arabia is widely recognized as a leader in promoting and enabling entrepreneurship and innovation.
Turkey offers quite a sophisticated platform for entrepreneurs. It has a diversified industrial base, a relatively stable political and economic environment, a critical mass of willing early adopters, a considerable talent pool, a strong domestic market and underserved neighboring markets. Yet, currently only 6 out of 100 people are entrepreneurs – a very low rate given the country’s level of development. What challenges does Turkey need to address in order to unleash entrepreneurship as a force for economic growth?
It is an important week for entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Here in Dubai, two important global summits will be convened by His Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, United Arab Emirates Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Carl Schramm, President of the Kauffman Foundation: The HCT Global Entrepreneurship 2010 Conference (E2010) and the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Congress which I will emcee.
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