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This morning, President Obama addressed the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship organized by the Department of State and the Department of Commerce following his promise in Cairo last June. The event is designed to promote entrepreneurship in Africa, the Middle East, and South, Central and Southeast Asia as a tool for economic and development policy and to fulfill the President’s commitment to broaden and deepen ties between the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
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?
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.
Having focused last month on efforts to further entrepreneurship abroad leading up to the global Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, this week I wanted to focus squarely on the United States ahead of next month's Global Entrepreneurship Week Partners Forum convened at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City. Who are some of the leading players in 2010 driving America's startup culture and how does Global Entrepreneurship Week each November enable them to combine voices in underscoring to the American people how entrepreneurs built America?
Once again, entrepreneurial activity showed big in the United States. Last year was a tough year for entrepreneurs. We have experienced a deep recession, credit crunch and record unemployment rates. But although the odds were against them, new-business creation during the 2007-2009 recession years increased steadily year to year (e.g. 60,000 more starts per month in 2009 than in 2007) and 2009 became the year business startups reached their highest level in 14 years. The number of startups even exceeded the count during the peak of the 1999-2000 technology boom.
The spirit of entrepreneurship was alive and well at last week’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. The White House took a political risk in hosting a summit on “global” entrepreneurship in a climate when so many Americans, anxious about their local economy, are easily blinded to the vital role entrepreneurs play in building the stable economies overseas essential to our growing firms back home. The summit though was a foreign policy success and a solid statement of support for the role all entrepreneurs play in creating jobs and economic growth.
There has been a lot talk in the past year about job creation, entrepreneurship and economic recovery. Under the economic pressures, it became more important to than ever to examine closely how to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of various groups in society. We know for example that women are under-represented among business founders in high-tech and other high-growth fields despite their increasing participation in science and engineering. Fortunately, we are better prepared every day to inform policy. Today, I examine some of the most recent findings on the factors that affect the survival and growth of startups founded by women.
I suggested in my blog following President Obama’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship earlier this year that what we need now is for routine global ministerial level economic meetings to concentrate on policies that encourage the creation of new firms. As I depart Toronto where we have been gathering for the official G20 Young Entrepreneurs Summit I note at least one minister arriving having put his money where his mouth is for entrepreneurs - UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne.
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.
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