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While the global financial crisis impacted almost all new entrepreneurs, it began in developed countries and hit their entrepreneurs harder. As a result, in richer countries, new business creation dropped sharply amid the crisis. In contrast, new business registrations in many low-income countries didn't change much. These are the findings in The 2010 World Bank Group Entrepreneurship Snapshots, which presents data collected about newly registered companies in 112 countries and was released recently.
I am happy to report that in its third year, Global Entrepreneurship Week grew by leaps and bounds. As more countries take advantage of this global movement, more minds are pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. GEW has not just inspired students looking for a way to reach their goals, but the leaders of nations who were inspired in their efforts to boost growth by the sheer energy of the millions of participants in GEW activities during the past two weeks. In case you haven’t been following, here are a couple of anecdotes from this year’s Week, and the reaction it produced among some of the world’s leaders.
“In business, the only certain thing is failure. Especially when you operate in a place like Indonesia,” Sandiaga Uno said earlier this year during his visit to the U.S. for President Obama’s Summit on Entrepreneurship. After being laid off during the financial crisis in Asia in the late 90s, Uno decided to try entrepreneurship to pay off credit card debt and put food on his family’s table. He is now the renowned co-founder of Saratoga Capital, the first private equity firm in Indonesia focusing on natural resources that grew from four workers to about 15,000 employees.
I have just returned from a brief last minute visit to Algiers where I spoke at a conference focused on the Maghreb countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. The objectives of the Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference, a follow-on to President Obama’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship held in April 2010 in Washington, DC was to discuss strategies to promote job creation through entrepreneurship.
Since the economic crisis broke out, entrepreneurship has attracted increased attention as a key path to economic recovery. I was happy to see that entrepreneurs have been set apart from some of the negative perceptions of big business and the blame being placed on large financial institutions for the economic meltdown. The question is whether such recognition of entrepreneurs as an engine for growth and innovation translated into concrete pro-entrepreneurship policies.
Given the momentum gained in 2010 to get policymakers thinking about entrepreneurship, it is reasonable to expect that America’s commitment to entrepreneurship will grow, especially once we see that commitment translated into concrete policy action. Of course, the hope is that those policy actions will be the right ones—inspiring confidence, building up decision-making around risk-taking and investing, spurring new enterprises built on innovative products and services, and along with it, job creation. With that sense of optimism, comes the vision of a global economy finally starting to shake free from a global crisis.
In 2009, the Irish economy underwent one of the deepest recessions in the EU, with its economy shrinking by as much as 10%. Late in 2010, Ireland received an €85bn financial rescue package. Clearly, the winner of Ireland´s general elections held on Sunday (according to polls so far Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny) will have a lot on his shoulders. However, if the past is any indication, Ireland has the potential to resurge economically.
Israel is one of the most innovative nations on earth. Israelis (approximately 7.6 million in number) are well-educated, have a global outlook, ties around the world, and most importantly, a positive view of entrepreneurship. Most Israeli entrepreneurs understand ways of moving innovations into the marketplace and how to establish themselves as global companies from the get go. It is only natural that there is so much interest around the world in Israel’s entrepreneurship path.
I hope that like me, you have had the chance to witness the burgeoning phenomenon of entrepreneurship curriculum in American higher education. More and more, students have the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship on campus. In the process of creating entrepreneurship programs, universities have become more entrepreneurial themselves. This is great news. Colleges and universities are natural incubators of creativity and new ways of looking at things. And this new reality might mean that colleges and universities are better preparing students for success in the American economy where more professionals need to make their own jobs.
One hundred years of banked future hydrocarbon revenues, massive investments in higher education and a common legal framework based on western law all offer this small nation—the size of Connecticut—tremendous potential to be a hub for startups in the GCC. I find it curious therefore that at Qatar’s famous “Doha Forum” I participated in today, entrepreneurship and startups were not on the agenda.
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