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I have just returned today from a short visit to South Korea where I addressed an international conference and met with various universities both in Seoul and Daejeon Valley – described to me by locals as Korea’s Silicon Valley.
Visitors arriving at Seoul’s acclaimed airport can only be impressed by its sophisticated application of technology into everyday lives. The train I rode from Seoul to Daejoen cruised at 300 Kilometers per hour, every taxi in Seoul was clean and paid for with a back seat touchpad card reader and the urban planning seemed super smart with local government being placed in beautiful floating structures on the river and national government being moved altogether out of Seoul.
The following is a collaborative post by Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Public Forum Institute and a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, and Anders Hoffman, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy for Erhvervs- og Byggestyrelsen
Denmark is in many ways a paradoxical country. It has the world’s highest taxes and yet Danes are among the happiest people in the world according to the U.S. National Science Foundation. Denmark has generous social benefits, a large public sector and yet is quite innovative and entrepreneurial. The Global Competitiveness Report and the Index of Economic Freedom both rank Denmark 9th on their world lists, and the Legatum Prosperity Index ranks the country 6th in entrepreneurship and innovation. Denmark did not end in the top ten of these world lists by chance. What steps and policy initiatives made this possible?
Since it was launched in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation and Enterprise
UK, more than 18,000 partner organizations joined the global movement to
shape the next generation of entrepreneurs. In its still short life,
GEW has established a solid and ongoing presence in more than 100
countries -- and counting. During the same time period, over 10 million
people around the world have participated in GEW activities and 2010
promises to boost that total to tap even more human capital and breathe
life into new startups.
While the majority of nations this year
will start Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 15th, some countries
are conducting their celebrations a week or more in advance due to an
important Muslim holiday, Eid al-Adha, falling on November 16th.
Throughout this week, when another 80 countries launch Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), there will be a significant number of events organized by GEW partners at universities, schools, companies, professional associations, technological centers and municipalities. Like last week’s events in Muslim countries, the activities will be diversified, ranging from thematic conferences to networking with investors and entrepreneurs, presentation of business plans, recreational events, sport events, cultural events, etc. There will be something for everyone and I encourage all to take advantage of these opportunities.
“In business, the only certain thing is failure. Especially when you operate in a place like Indonesia,” Sandiaga Uno said earlier this year during his visit to the U.S. for President Obama’s Summit on Entrepreneurship. After being laid off during the financial crisis in Asia in the late 90s, Uno decided to try entrepreneurship to pay off credit card debt and put food on his family’s table. He is now the renowned co-founder of Saratoga Capital, the first private equity firm in Indonesia focusing on natural resources that grew from four workers to about 15,000 employees.
I am happy to report that in its third year, Global Entrepreneurship Week grew by leaps and bounds. As more countries take advantage of this global movement, more minds are pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. GEW has not just inspired students looking for a way to reach their goals, but the leaders of nations who were inspired in their efforts to boost growth by the sheer energy of the millions of participants in GEW activities during the past two weeks. In case you haven’t been following, here are a couple of anecdotes from this year’s Week, and the reaction it produced among some of the world’s leaders.
I have just returned from a brief last minute visit to Algiers where I spoke at a conference focused on the Maghreb countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania. The objectives of the Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference, a follow-on to President Obama’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship held in April 2010 in Washington, DC was to discuss strategies to promote job creation through entrepreneurship.
Today and tomorrow the Senate will vote on President Obama’s announced deal to extend for two years all of the tax cuts, both those from the Bush years and those for low-income workers from last year’s stimulus package. Under this proposal, recently expired benefits for the long-term unemployed would also be extended for another 13 months. In addition, the agreement would cut payroll taxes for one-year. What does all this mean for entrepreneurs?
Since the economic crisis broke out, entrepreneurship has attracted increased attention as a key path to economic recovery. I was happy to see that entrepreneurs have been set apart from some of the negative perceptions of big business and the blame being placed on large financial institutions for the economic meltdown. The question is whether such recognition of entrepreneurs as an engine for growth and innovation translated into concrete pro-entrepreneurship policies.
Given the momentum gained in 2010 to get policymakers thinking about entrepreneurship, it is reasonable to expect that America’s commitment to entrepreneurship will grow, especially once we see that commitment translated into concrete policy action. Of course, the hope is that those policy actions will be the right ones—inspiring confidence, building up decision-making around risk-taking and investing, spurring new enterprises built on innovative products and services, and along with it, job creation. With that sense of optimism, comes the vision of a global economy finally starting to shake free from a global crisis.
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