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Despite political moves that have been making foreign businesses and investors in Venezuela nervous in the past few years, entrepreneurship has managed to survive. For many Venezuelans, entrepreneurship is a way of facing the prolonged political and economic troubles in many sectors of the economy, as the Washington Post article “With Chávez, Some Venezuelan Entrepreneurs See Opportunity” explained when the President won re-election.
We do not have to puzzle long over what ignited the Arab Youth to take over the streets calling for reforms in their governments. The protests have been against long tyrannies, unemployment and have been fueled by the power of social media. The act that triggered the pro-democracy movement in many Arab countries, the self-immolation of a Tunisian in protest over the confiscation of his fruit stand, shows that the events of late are also an uprising against anti-entrepreneurial barriers. Clearly, protesters have issued a call to Arab leaders to not stifle the innovative aspirations of their people--especially the younger generation--which leaders themselves have armed through education and who are now impatient to put their education to good use.
While entrepreneurs can be found anywhere, I take particular interest in what the most populous countries are doing to comb their citizens for entrepreneurs. Italy is the sixth most populous country in Europe, and the twenty-third most populous in the world. It also has the world's seventh-largest nominal GDP. Unfortunately, it also has the sixth highest government budget and a large public deficit, such that the economic confidence crisis in the Euro zone that sparked in Greece put a spotlight on Italy´s economy, which faces similar insolvency risk. With Italy´s public debt around 120 percent of GDP and growing, policy options are increasingly constrained. Fortunately, spurring entrepreneurship is not necessarily expensive (although it does take political commitment) and is a proven source of economic energy.
We are a week away from another historic global entrepreneurship event - this time in Shanghai, China, for the annual gathering of global leaders in the entrepreneurial movement led by the Kauffman Foundation.
America’s fiscal health remains currently at the heart of most economic policy chatter. We are living in tight fiscal times. Congress has been focusing on reaching agreements on reducing spending and budget battles are expected to wage on throughout much of this year. Since balancing the budget is inseparable from tax policy, we take a quick look this week at how taxes shape incentives for entrepreneurs.
This week, I was invited to join the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Trade Ministerial in Big Sky, Montana. This regional bloc meeting remains one of the most important venues for discussing global economic policy. It is also one that has paid attention to the role of entrepreneurs in achieving its goals of trade and cooperation for growth.
I hope that like me, you have had the chance to witness the burgeoning phenomenon of entrepreneurship curriculum in American higher education. More and more, students have the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship on campus. In the process of creating entrepreneurship programs, universities have become more entrepreneurial themselves. This is great news. Colleges and universities are natural incubators of creativity and new ways of looking at things. And this new reality might mean that colleges and universities are better preparing students for success in the American economy where more professionals need to make their own jobs.
One hundred years of banked future hydrocarbon revenues, massive investments in higher education and a common legal framework based on western law all offer this small nation—the size of Connecticut—tremendous potential to be a hub for startups in the GCC. I find it curious therefore that at Qatar’s famous “Doha Forum” I participated in today, entrepreneurship and startups were not on the agenda.
Over time I have become increasingly confused as to the meaning of “youth entrepreneurship.” While the myth of entrepreneurs as “modern day Mozarts” in garages (to borrow Carl Schramm’s phrase) is slowly being dispelled, it seems our human instinct to avoid conversations about age is alive and well! The reason this matters now is because governments and non-governmental organizations around the globe appear to be ramping up investment in “youth enterprise.”
Late September is always a busy
time in New York and Washington for world leaders. New York is crowded with
heads of state and visionaries at the UN Assembly or the Clinton Global
Initiative, and in Washington, DC, the World Bank Group and IMF
Annual Meetings that took place this past weekend always spur an assortment
of organizations with global economic development missions to gather their
flocks. We all wonder what all these expensive ‘meetings of the minds’ are
accomplishing. To share my own bias, it prompts me once a year to check in and
see how much development bureaucrats are really seeing and listening to the
entrepreneurs on the ground doing the work.
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