100 Day Countdown
Jonathan Ortmans, President, Public Forum Institute
The economic downturn has placed a new focus on how to generate more “job creators” in our economies and made the idea of a global celebration of entrepreneurship as a path back to positive growth rates especially relevant. This past Saturday marked the 100-day countdown to what is now the largest entrepreneurship event in the world, kicking off November 16th, 2009 - Global Entrepreneurship Week - and I am asking for your help.
Here is the idea. With a fearless under 30 “new media” generation now considerably more savvy about open source, bootstrap entrepreneurship, economic and national boundaries are at worst porous. I argue we have reached a tipping point in international economic development where the potential of powerful ideas, smart thinking and hard work, combined with a passionate desire to make a difference in our world, opens new doors to addressing old challenges. And just in time. With a global population of 6.5 billion projected to increase to 8.5 billion by mid-century, set against today’s existing economic and social challenges arising from poverty, disease and national debt, we can never have too many ideas being unleashed. The task at hand is giving new generations the tools to unleash their ideas and turn them into reality.
While Global Entrepreneurship Week will offer some high-profile events around the world with government leaders and celebrities, it is at its heart a grassroots global campaign hosted last year by 8,892 organizations in 100 countries, who planned more than 25,000 events attended by more than 3 million participants, and captured the attention of nearly a billion people.
In 100 days, the stories will unfold again. While every nation adopts a varied approach; in 2009 host organizations are expected to highlight four downloadable, easy-to-implement activities focusing on mentoring, innovation, networking and the environment. These activities offer an efficient way for budget-strapped organizations to engage globally. The Global Clean Tech Ideas Competition combs the world for the best green innovators. Mentoring Madness, sponsored by NYSE Euronext, brings advice to aspiring bootstrap entrepreneurs. A Global Innovation Tournament challenges students around the world to compete with each other over a common global problem and Speednetwork the Globe builds hundreds of local networks to help bring one’s ideas to life.
In the words of Carl Schramm, who conceived the idea with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the message of Global Entrepreneurship Week is this: “I can make my own life better. I can expand my human dignity, and I can take my fellow citizens along into the future that we can create.”
I rarely ask anything of readers of this blog. Today, I ask this: sign up and join the Unleashing Ideas network and be a part of this worldwide movement. It is free, of course. For those professionals involved in furthering entrepreneurship - host an event. And if you know of someone temporarily with some extra time on their hands, forward them this e-mail suggesting they volunteer and network. This campaign has the potential to unleash lots of untapped potential for innovation in the world and deserves your support. For more information visit www.unleashingideas.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Ortmans is a senior fellow at the Kauffman Foundation where he focuses on public policies to promote entrepreneurship in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, he serves as president of the Public Forum Institute, a non-partisan organization dedicated to fostering dialogue on important policy issues.