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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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
When I asked two U.S. Senators from different parties earlier this year how they managed to work together on startup legislation during an election year, both talked of “credible, robust data” as their starting point. Last week I participated in the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) 3rd Annual Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference at George Washington University to see what was emerging outside the United States.
While politicians are out of town campaigning, the nation’s capital has been welcoming leaders in entrepreneurship education from America’s colleges and universities. Following a warm up from the younger “Empact” entrepreneurship education advocates, I joined a packed summit of university and community college presidents at the White House put together by the Commerce Department’s Nish Acharya, and then spoke this past Friday at Jeff Reid’s Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers conference at Georgetown University. It is increasingly clear that America’s colleges and universities have been retooling as engines of entrepreneurship and innovation.
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