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As I read this morning’s news about Syrian security forces renewing attacks on the city of Hama, I become even more committed to finding stories of Syrians looking beyond the divides of politics, class and religion, who can help shape the fate of the country and its four-months-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Now that Peru has inaugurated a new government, the verdict is out on how the Ollanta Humala administration treats entrepreneurs. When the new president presented the names of eight of his cabinet ministers for his presidential mandate which started July 28, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Peruvian entrepreneur Salomon Lerner would be among them.
On January 31st, 2011, the White House announced Startup America, a public/private initiative to rally efforts to accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship in the U.S. by expanding access to capital, creating a national network for entrepreneurship education, enhancing the commercialization of federally-funded innovations and getting rid of tax and paperwork barriers for startups. Given the importance of new firms to America’s economy and the national urgency to create jobs, I take a look this week at what Washington accomplished—leading up to the summer break—in response to the President’s call for action.
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.
Most policymakers are starting to both heed entrepreneurs for their job and wealth creation efforts during these tough times as well as pick up on one of our nation’s biggest source of high-growth start-ups: immigrant entrepreneurs. But if public reaction to a recent NPR segment and recent Washington Post commentary on the topic are anything to go by, I fear we have a long way to go to convince the average American citizen.
Over time I have become increasingly confused as to the meaning of “youth entrepreneurship.” While the myth of entrepreneurs as “modern day Mozarts” in garages (to borrow Carl Schramm’s phrase) is slowly being dispelled, it seems our human instinct to avoid conversations about age is alive and well! The reason this matters now is because governments and non-governmental organizations around the globe appear to be ramping up investment in “youth enterprise.”
We have heard several entrepreneurship-based proposals recently to get our economy back on track, but one piece seemed to be missing this whole time in the debate: re-evaluating Sarbanes-Oxley for young firms. We have long known that the compliance costs associated with SOX—particularly section 404—have been discouraging many companies from going public, thereby blocking their access to capital and growth. Researchers have suggested that Congress address this issue in some way, and a measure to allow shareholders of companies with market cap below $1 billion to opt-in under SOX was one of the ideas floated in the Startup Act released mid-July. The measure is now gaining track in Congress.
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.
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.
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