People from 30+ countries, speaking multiple languages, sharing diverse cultures, coming together around one theme – entrepreneurship. So it was recently when I had the opportunity to address the 18th Annual Congress of the European Business & Innovation Centre Network (EBN), in Fez, Morocco.
Now boasting members in North Africa and Eastern Europe, EBN is in its 18th year of promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. And the commitment of the organization to this noble cause was evident in everything from the plenary sessions and workshops, to the spontaneous trans-continental networking that was taking place.
Having only been recently exposed to EBN, it was quite humbling to address such a diverse group representing so many different lands and cultures. That notwithstanding, I am no longer surprised how universal entrepreneurship is, and how willing people are to promote it. Although I struggled a bit (not speaking French or Arabic) with the languages, without exception I was able to understand the multitude of stories about the various incubators, technology transfer offices, and economic development organizations that are laboring to grow (recover) their local economies by way of advancing entrepreneurial endeavors.
It is true that the United States is seen as a leader in entrepreneurship, for a host of reasons that shall be the topic of another blog posting some day, but the rest of the world has a voracious appetite to close the gap and enjoy the many benefits of wealth creation vis-a-vis launching and growing bright companies. And one advantage I would give to the EBN members is their ubiquitous notion that they compete in a global economy. Maybe as a byproduct of the European Union or the simple fact of geographic proximity, these entrepreneurs seem already wired into global issues that I often find I am coaching US-based entrepreneurs about.
Regardless of the differences, they are all united by the power of ideas … and their ability to build a future worth living.As always, let me know what you think.
Thom Ruhe Director of Entrepreneurship The Kauffman Foundation