At the Foundation we endeavour to frame our entrepreneurial activities within a global context. By connecting with world leaders in this field we not only acknowledge our part within a global movement, we also seize the opportunity for cross-pollination – sharing ideas, strategies, and possibly even resources. Our part in this global conversation on entrepreneurship has recently included participation in the Fourth Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the annual Global Entrepreneurship Week.
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit has its unlikely roots in a speech made by Barack Obama in Egypt in 2009 where he committed to host a summit on entrepreneurship to identify ways of deepening ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world. The subsequent summits in Washington, Dubai and Turkey attracted close to 5,000 delegates from around 120 different countries. This fourth summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was no different in the number and diversity of participants it attracted. This annual gathering has truly grown into a powerful celebration of the spirit of entrepreneurship.
A particular highlight of the summit was an initiative termed Global Startup Youth. It featured 500 youth between the ages of 18 and 25 from around the world being taken through an intensive three-day lean startup boot camp. The quality of ideas that emerged from the participants in this boot camp confirmed the possibilities of entrepreneurship and the power of young people leading this charge.
Another significant event that was represented at the Fourth Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and is similar in its worldwide impact, is the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). It is a movement set on fostering a better culture of entrepreneurship in individual countries. GEW finds expression in 35,000 events being held at the same time across 125 different countries. This year GEW will take place from 18-24 November The GEW will also coincide with the E2 Seminar that this year focuses on food security. At this event Fellows make their final Startership pitches to E2, the venture capital fund established to invest in businesses led by Allan Gray Fellows.
The fact that such events garner the interest and support of governments at the highest levels is a leading indicator that the battle of establishing the economic importance of entrepreneurship has been won. The next frontier is identifying the most effective of a growing number of entrepreneurship education interventions. Having to choose from an abundance of entrepreneurial solutions is, however, a good problem to have.
This shift in thinking around the potential of entrepreneurship is perhaps best summed up in a statement from the president of GEW, Jonathan Ortmans: “Entrepreneurship has been transformed from a subject of narrow commercial significance into one of substantive cultural consequence that signifies the potential of human endeavour for the benefit of all.”
We look forward to the continued participation of our organisation, our Fellows and our country in this global entrepreneurial movement.