Unleash Youth Entrepreneurship

Jonathan Ortmans, President, Public Forum Institute

The economic recession has highlighted the crucial role of the job creators in society. Leaders around the world are looking to entrepreneurs as the engines for restored growth. In the U.S., the majority of the population believes that entrepreneurs will lead the way out of the recession. This is not surprising. Many development experts have offered the same advice to countries that have long been struggling with rising unemployment and stagnant growth.

With Global Entrepreneurship Week initiative, the Kauffman Foundation has been promoting the appreciation of entrepreneurship around the world and energizing the young to become entrepreneurs. With a global population of 6.5 billion projected to increase to 8.5 billion by mid-century, we will continue to face new challenges of increasing complexity. This initiative is based on the belief that there is no shortage of ideas to fix these challenges. This year, the Week will take place Nov. 16-22.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a grassroots effort. We work with universities, high schools, community organizations and individual volunteers to ensure that great ideas do not lie idle. These partners and hosts organize events during the Week that inspire young people around the world to think and act big. Partners and other host organizations have access to a number of fun, easy-to-download activities designed to ignite creative thinking.

Participants in far flung places in turn have a chance to connect with people from all over the world—people who are interested in sharing ideas and experiences through mentoring, networking, virtual forums and more. Fostering connections and collaboration is vital to honing the skills of the next generation of entrepreneurs. Last year’s Week involved over 1,000 events in the United States alone, attended by more than 140,000 people. These events ranged from a seminar at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill., to a Mentoring Madness session at the New York Stock Exchange, to a seminar on hip-hop and entrepreneurship in Kansas City. All of this took place against the backdrop of a global movement inspiring entrepreneurship, which engaged 77 countries.

While the core of Global Entrepreneurship Week will take place on Nov. 16-22, the momentum is already building. This year, when we face an economic crisis and other pressing challenges, people are particularly eager to unleash entrepreneurship. Through the Week’s website hosts and participants are sharing ideas on activities or connecting to seasoned entrepreneurs, global leaders and rising innovative thinkers. We invite to join this campaign, to unleash your innovative potential and help others explore entrepreneurship.


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.

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