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I report this week from Africa which is enjoying its greatest economic success in decades and where there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur. With economic growth rates this year around 6 percent in one-third of the 49 sub-Saharan African countries, the IMF forecasts that Africa will have the fastest-growing economy of any continent over the next five years. The World Bank in turn has reported earlier this month that more than 20 sub-Saharan African countries, encompassing more than 400 million people, have gained middle-income status, while the number of people living in poverty is down by roughly 10 percentage points over the past decade.
One of the major supporters of DEMO Africa and LIONS@frica with me in Nairobi last week was Nokia. As I took a look at just how much innovation Nokia has created, I was curious to look further into the current startup culture in its home country of Finland and see just how important high-growth entrepreneurship is to its economy.
Tomorrow, roughly 100 million Americans will cast their vote for one of two men who have stressed the importance of entrepreneurs and of course, small business to the country—and claimed to be the best candidate to empower them. Meanwhile, one week from today, policymakers, researchers and millions of nascent entrepreneurs in 130 countries will be taking matters into their own hands through a collection of 40,000 events, activities and competitions during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
Today marks the official opening of Global Entrepreneurship Week, now celebrated in 131 countries. Throughout this week, roughly 25,000 partner organizations will be actively engaged in holding 35,000 events, activities and competitions--engaging more than 7 million participants and equipping them with the skills and connections to take the next step in their entrepreneurial journey. But GEW is more than just a celebration, it is attracting new talent to the field and supplementing grassroots startup energy with top down endorsements that legitimize entrepreneurship.
you look in the media these days you see alleged signs of impending economic
doom—from the ‘financial cliff’ threatening to punish United States
policymakers if they can’t reach agreement soon to the Eurozone crisis with the
Greek economy on the edge of collapse. Certainly all very troubling, but it is
only one side of the coin. For the past 10 days, I have seen the other side—a
side full of hope and promise thanks to a burgeoning movement to embrace
If you are familiar with this blog, you know we often discuss the progress or obstacles in various entrepreneurship ecosystems. We have also discussed the paucity of data around the world to best inform decision makers keen to smooth the path for their aspiring entrepreneurs. Current thinking suggests that startup communities need to be led by entrepreneurs and today we take note of a new global survey of entrepreneurs. Released earlier this month, the Global Entrepreneurship Week Policy Survey, which was designed to shed light on key questions for policy discussions on high-growth entrepreneurship from the perspective of entrepreneurs themselves.
A recent blog by Dan Isenberg from Babson College argues that there has been too much focus on startups around the world and that “infinitely more important is to embed scale-up.” Of course, Dan has a point in that I frequently hear leaders outside the United States lament their lack of billion dollars firms, but I think we are far from the point when we can stop advocating for better support for new starts. Not only is most of the world still focused on size not age of firms—talking “SMEs”—but we still do not know enough about the science of startups and how to best support those that want to scale. As with kids—to play along with Isenberg’s analogy—we have to help firms start better if they are to scale later in life and now is not the time to pull back the throttle on legitimizing founders and startups as a centrepiece of that economy policy.
This year has afforded me the opportunity to visit dozens of nations and talk with their entrepreneurs. One nation remained elusive to me. In 2011, Thailand participated for the first time in Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and I was keen to visit in either 2011 or 2012, but despite good faith efforts, I have been unable to make it there, mostly due to the likes of tragic flooding, the worst in 50 years last year for the country. So I turn today to virtual research.
At the Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES) in Dubai last week, it was clear to me that there is a new level of engagement in developing more entrepreneurial economies at the highest levels of government in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The summit, a collaboration between the U.A.E. Prime Minister’s office and the Obama Administration, was an effort to leverage U.S. strengths in high growth entrepreneurship. Now that the summit is over, we take a look at the challenges before policymakers in the region in making the path easier for even more nascent entrepreneurs to succeed in the future.
Unless you completely unplugged over the holidays, you know that if Democratic and Republican lawmakers could not bridge their differences on how best to reduce the nation's budget deficit and debt, the Budget Control Act of 2011 mandated a combination of spending cuts and tax increases to take effect January 1, 2013. While Washington kicked the can down the road on budget cuts, the cliff was avoided – but what does the deal mean for American entrepreneurs?
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