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The creative genius among the young is perhaps one of the least-tapped resources in many economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. If given the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as a career path and a business-friendly environment, young people can unleash their potential—creating gains for all in terms of quality of life, employment and wealth generation. This Friday, I will get a first-hand look at some of that potential as I moderate part of the African Innovation Summit—sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in coordination with Meridian International Center—that will welcome more than 60 young African entrepreneurs to Washington, DC. And later this year, thanks to a new partnership, we will see some of the continent’s most promising entrepreneurs compete during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The APEC Startup conference that just wrapped up in Seoul signaled stepped-up interest within the 21 APEC member nations in policies that promote new firm formation as ameans of “booting up” economies. Interestingly, the drive for this effort is being led not by the United States, but by South Korea which has taken big strides over the past two years to rebuild its own startup ecosystem.
Two prominent Japanese professors recently authored the Fukao-Kwon report, which revealed that from 1996-2006, when total employment in Japan decreased by 3.5 million, young, newly established firms and foreign companies were the only ones to create net job growth. This report also suggests that new companies have higher success rates than older, established companies in Japan and that entrepreneurs clearly need to be the central catalysts in Japan’s next chapter. Have the great innovators of the post-war years – Toyota, Nippon Steel, Sony, etc – become so huge and successful that they have lost their propensity to create disruptive new technologies?
While the startup genome in Silicon Valley is always mutating, some formulas are becoming basic tenets in the science of startups. A critical mass of email about my use of the word “iterative” in my blogs prompts me to revisit one such startup fundamental—the so called “Lean Startup” formula.
As elections approach and there is a lot of debate on which is the best road to a robust economy with more jobs, policymakers should take time to listen to the message of the just-released Kaufman Foundation videos on the benefits of high-skilled immigration. With Washington being unwilling to separate the obviously different issues of high-skilled immigration and how to handle illegal immigrants, a net job gain strategy remains hostage to politics as usual in the nation’s capitol.
From an outsider perspective, Belgium has a very diverse economy with dozens of influences coming together at its prime location in the heart of the EU. Being the home to several major European universities, and a mix of service-based economy in the north and industrial-based in the south, Belgium has a diverse market structure that keeps it competitive and one of the highest income per capita economies in the world. However, when it comes to entrepreneurship, Belgium is not thriving.
I recently returned from Brazil, the world’s sixth largest economy, where President Dilma Rousseff, a former Marxist revolutionary, is using pro-growth incentives such as lower interest rates, proposed tax cuts and infrastructure investment to fuel her nation’s quest for sustained economic growth and help more Brazilians stand on their own two feet. That Rio will host the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in March 2013 is obviously important for Brazilians. It might be more important for the rest of world.
Argentina has been in the news lately for its expropriation of a Spanish oil company and other strong regulatory interference, such as price and import controls. With this image reflected in the media, we decided to check back on activity that Argentine entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them are carrying out to sustain and promote entrepreneurship.
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