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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.
Last week, I shared how we should be encouraged by recent developments to ramp up efforts in support of America’s new and young job creators—including legislation put forth by President Obama at the end of January.
At the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship which I am attending this week, in her speech before all the delegates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced specific steps to create entrepreneurial environments, expand access to capital and expertise, and advance mentorship for emerging and aspiring entrepreneurs...
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?
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.
Despite the profound impact of the banking sector collapse in 2008 on Iceland’s economy, the island nation ranks 13th in this year’s Global Innovation Index, 14th in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, and 23rd in the Index of Economic Freedom. There has been much debate and disagreement regarding the key steps that put this social-market economy on a path to successful recovery but no one denies the contribution of the more silent actors transforming the economy for the better—its entrepreneurs. I recently sat down in Reykjavik with President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to learn about the entrepreneurs who are building what they call an “anti-fragile” entrepreneurship ecosystem.
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.
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.
It has been two years this week since the Kauffman Foundation took extensive research and data analysis around new firm formation, crafted a single document, and labeled it “The Startup Act.” Renaming the conversation that PDE had started earlier around how policymakers can make it easier for startups to emerge, create jobs and grow, was very effective in getting policymakers in Washington to take a look at entrepreneurship through the lens of helping new and young firms. But how far has America come in getting something done on their behalf?
While startup cities are just emerging, there are smart and sophisticated steps being taken to develop healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems across the African continent. I take a look at one such collaboration, LIONS@FRICA, that promises to set a new example of how the willing can better help in Africa.
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