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While the world gathered in New York last week for the Clinton Global Initiative and UN General Assembly meetings, I elected to accept an invitation to head out of town to check up on progress with one of the world’s “strong government” economies grappling with how to reconcile a tradition of top-down government control with a desire for bottom up organic startup communities.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
At the Global Entrepreneurial Summit (GES) in Dubai last week, it was clear to me that there is a new level of engagement in developing more entrepreneurial economies at the highest levels of government in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The summit, a collaboration between the U.A.E. Prime Minister’s office and the Obama Administration, was an effort to leverage U.S. strengths in high growth entrepreneurship. Now that the summit is over, we take a look at the challenges before policymakers in the region in making the path easier for even more nascent entrepreneurs to succeed in the future.
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