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In his State of the Union Address next week, President Obama will shift gears back to job creation after his inauguration speech focused on wider themes. As the debate about how the government can help the economy regain its pre-recession strength enters a new phase, the Kauffman Foundation’s annual “State of Entrepreneurship Address” last week in Washington, DC, focused on how financial constraints have been blocking the success of new and young firms that create most of the net new jobs.
Thousands of people from 135 countries have already confirmed their participation for next month’s week-long Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) and festival in Rio de Janeiro. As chair of the GEC for the past few years, I have witnessed the emergence of this global platform for collaboration among entrepreneurs, their investors and national leaders held outside the United States. So what happens at the GEC?
Last Friday, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress adjourned in Rio de Janeiro, ending a week of intense sessions that engaged over two thousand people from 130 countries in discussions around building stronger entrepreneurship ecosystems back home. While the Congress included Global Entrepreneurship Week host country delegations, investors and entrepreneurs, it opened last Monday with a new session for policymakers and researchers. The experiment was a success and ended with a commitment by organizers to make government policy a mainstay of the annual Congress in the future.
This week, President Obama will turn his focus from budget sequestration to immigration. A new Kauffman Foundation report released last week argues that making 75,000 Startup Visas available for current holders of H-1B and F-1 visas who start companies could create as much as 1.6 million U.S. jobs in the next 10 years. Will Washington act or, if they cannot agree, throw the baby out with the bath water?
The nurturing of new and young firms has so far not been given much attention in prominent global gatherings. International government meetings have mostly concentrated on passive SME policy and others like the World Economic Forum have treated entrepreneurs as a side ring at the circus. The maturing of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) to fill this gap is thus a welcome development.
Botswana is among Africa’s richest countries and the continent’s oldest functioning post-colonial, multi-party democracy. It has low taxes and a stable government that has been ranked as Africa's least corrupt. But it needs entrepreneurs.
I first visited the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology in Ghana when it first opened in 2008. It was impressive then and it has continued to impress since—helping incubate promising tech startups throughout the country. Five years later, it is part of a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Accra that is laying the foundation for future growth. In our final commentary on Africa, we hear from Alicia Robb, senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, who has just returned from Ghana about her thoughts on the progress being made.
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.
In this era of sophisticated public policy around enabling high-growth entrepreneurship, governments should be mindful to not forget the basics. A survey conducted last November in Honduras found that gang violence was forcing the closure of 1600 companies across the country. This is a good reminder that supporting startups to scale up in this part of the world must include deep institutional reforms to strengthen the rule of law and the judicial system.
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