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I returned this weekend from the Aspen Institute’s annual meeting of development entrepreneurs in New York where fresh thinkers were hard at work looking for new approaches to impactful international economic development. USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah sought out the opportunity to present his new vision for his agency, and Carl Schramm, President of the Kauffman Foundation, challenged the traditional strategic and intellectual platform that has driven the tired policies of decades of Washington consensus thinking around how we stimulate global economic growth.
Malaysia transformed itself from a producer of raw materials in the 1970s into an upper-middle income country with a multi-sector economy by the late 1990s. The 1997 crisis significantly challenged this technology-exporting country, but it has since successfully sparked two main sources of economic resilience—foreign investment and new firm creation. To my surprise, Malaysian entrepreneurs I spoke with recently gave a great deal of credit to, of all actors on the stage, their government. Did government really do something right?
Pressing ahead with its plan to build an entrepreneurial economy, Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance will host the fourth Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) on October 11-12, 2013. With the expected participation of U.S. President Barack Obama and other heads of state, the summit in Kuala Lumpur is set to be a milestone for Malaysia’s quest to become an entrepreneurship hub. I met with the planners in Kuala Lumpur recently to discuss progress.
Late September is always a busy
time in New York and Washington for world leaders. New York is crowded with
heads of state and visionaries at the UN Assembly or the Clinton Global
Initiative, and in Washington, DC, the World Bank Group and IMF
Annual Meetings that took place this past weekend always spur an assortment
of organizations with global economic development missions to gather their
flocks. We all wonder what all these expensive ‘meetings of the minds’ are
accomplishing. To share my own bias, it prompts me once a year to check in and
see how much development bureaucrats are really seeing and listening to the
entrepreneurs on the ground doing the work.
I have just returned today from the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Liverpool where a weeklong festival of entrepreneurship floated powerful ideas about everything from seeding startup communities to smarter national top-down policies. This week I take a quick look at last week’s GEC and why it matters as a symbol of the democratization of entrepreneurship.
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.
It is true that governments cannot be ignored by entrepreneurs—they set the rules and incentives. But it should not be surprising that vibrant entrepreneurs typically show, at best, nonchalance toward government. Most government agencies across the globe remain inefficient and cumbersome—especially when you compare even a well-funded government program to a collection of bootstrapping startups.
Even during this bruising recession, risk-taking entrepreneurs in the developing world seem to be seeing opportunities to leapfrog others and create advantage. And, as the Kauffman Foundation’s Carl Schramm recently argued in an article in Forbes magazine, I am not just talking about mobile technology in Africa.
Global interest in the emerging entrepreneurial economies of Latin America has been on the rise. It is where Endeavor began—launching in Chile and Argentina in 1997—and more recently, the region’s vibrant cultures have led the likes of Geeks on a Plane and the Global Entrepreneurship Congress to take a closer look. This spring we report back from a few economies in the region.
Following last week’s comments on the Global Entrepreneurship Research Network, I offer a second and final post on matters arising from the government-convened entrepreneurship summit in Kuala Lumpur. The roundtable discussion among “startup policy” experts on October 12 signaled a new chapter in knowledge creation around how governments can better enable their startup communities.
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