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It is an important week for entrepreneurship in the Middle East. Here in Dubai, two important global summits will be convened by His Excellency, Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, United Arab Emirates Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Carl Schramm, President of the Kauffman Foundation: The HCT Global Entrepreneurship 2010 Conference (E2010) and the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Congress which I will emcee.
At a time when we need risk-takers to start companies and create jobs, we need to do everything we can to remove unnecessarily burdensome regulations that dampen entrepreneurship. A high-impact, low-cost reform would be to make some of the more onerous requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 optional. This would permit companies whose shareholders don’t feel that the benefits of “SOX” requirements outweigh compliance costs to access public capital more quickly and less expensively. This kind of access to capital is critical for the survival of young firms, which have accounted for all net job growth in the United States in the past two decades.
Today, I would like to discuss the education-related recommendations outlined at the Kauffman Foundation’s State of Entrepreneurship address. We have long been aware that American education is struggling to stay competitive. We also know that the development of entrepreneurial skills, such as opportunity recognition and prudent risk taking, are not prioritized in most U.S. educational institutions. Developing tomorrow’s talented, capable innovators is a challenge that will require entrepreneurially-driven improvements in education at all levels.
Haitians have received help from governments, the private sector and the philanthropic community around the world to deal with the awful devastation, but the long term goal of rebuilding a nation and constructing institutions from scratch will require sustained commitment to the country. I can’t think of a better group to enlist in this task than Haitian entrepreneurs. The needs of the businesses affected in this region are extraordinary, but so is their potential to become agents for restoration.
Last June, President Obama announced in Cairo, Egypt that the U.S. government will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship to identify how we can deepen ties between leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Muslim communities around the world. Throughout April leading up to the April 26th summit, I will comment on the state of entrepreneurship in some of the nations participating which I will be attending in the hope of prompting further observations from readers.
Turkey offers quite a sophisticated platform for entrepreneurs. It has a diversified industrial base, a relatively stable political and economic environment, a critical mass of willing early adopters, a considerable talent pool, a strong domestic market and underserved neighboring markets. Yet, currently only 6 out of 100 people are entrepreneurs – a very low rate given the country’s level of development. What challenges does Turkey need to address in order to unleash entrepreneurship as a force for economic growth?
Last Friday, I had the opportunity to join an extraordinary group of women entrepreneurs mostly from Saudi Arabia for a lunch at the home of the Honorable Esther Coopersmith. All were both proud of their higher education in Saudi Arabia and had started companies in a wide range of businesses from construction to IT. I should not have been surprised. Starting a business in Saudi Arabia is relatively easy. Its “ease of starting a business” rank is 13 out of 183 economies, according the World Bank’s Doing Business 2010 data. This is not surprising. Saudi Arabia is widely recognized as a leader in promoting and enabling entrepreneurship and innovation.
Today, we start the seven day countdown for the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, and I want to take the opportunity to highlight a nation where entrepreneurship is starting to bloom: Malaysia. Although not yet a start-up economy, the desire for entrepreneurship and innovation are there, along with a growing number of public policies to support them-- a good recipe to put the economy on the entrepreneurial path.
This morning, President Obama addressed the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship organized by the Department of State and the Department of Commerce following his promise in Cairo last June. The event is designed to promote entrepreneurship in Africa, the Middle East, and South, Central and Southeast Asia as a tool for economic and development policy and to fulfill the President’s commitment to broaden and deepen ties between the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
The spirit of entrepreneurship was alive and well at last week’s Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. The White House took a political risk in hosting a summit on “global” entrepreneurship in a climate when so many Americans, anxious about their local economy, are easily blinded to the vital role entrepreneurs play in building the stable economies overseas essential to our growing firms back home. The summit though was a foreign policy success and a solid statement of support for the role all entrepreneurs play in creating jobs and economic growth.
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