Last week, entrepreneurs from across the United States and around the globe were celebrated and lauded for their efforts to promote growth, innovation, and job creation at more than 40,000 events in 130 countries during the fifth annual Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). The White House and the State Department marked the week with the "Celebration of Global Entrepreneurship" event on November 15, which brought together an all-star cast of speakers to highlight the importance of global entrepreneurship; the role of government, youth, and diaspora in promoting entrepreneurship; skills building; enabling policy; and ensuring access to capital. Over 150 government, private sector, and diplomatic corps representatives joined the event at the White House and provided suggestions for how government can enhance and strengthen opportunities for entrepreneurship and help channel the creativity, innovation, and potential of millions of individuals around the world to create economic opportunity.
"Promoting entrepreneurship plays to America's strengths. Our entrepreneurship is admired around the world, even by people who dislike our politics,” said Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides at the event. "Bringing innovative people together helps us bridge divides and build richer, stronger ties across borders."
The promotion of entrepreneurship, especially among youths, contributes to a culture of innovation and collaboration that creates opportunity and prosperity for the United States and the communities where we work. However, entrepreneurs need to have skills, networks, regulatory environments, and access to capital to make their best business ideas a reality. As Secretary Clinton has often emphasized, “Talent is universal, opportunity is not.” One of the many ways in which the State Department is creating opportunity for entrepreneurs is through partnerships that provide young innovators with the support and resources necessary to get started.
Through efforts such as Partners for a New Beginning and the International diaspora Engagement Alliance, we are bringing together local partners in local communities to create an enabling environment that will help entrepreneurs succeed. As Secretary Madeleine Albright told the group at the White House event, “These partnerships take advantage of local initiatives and capture innovation on the ground to help play the role of matchmaker globally.”
The White House event highlighted how partnerships can be particularly effective in the Middle East and North Africa region. Panelists such as Ossama Hassanein of TechWadi, Driss R. Temsamani of the Maghreb Economic Growth Fund, and Oltac Unsal of the World Bank's infoDev represented successful entrepreneurs and founders from across the Gulf, Levant, and Maghreb. Each speaker exemplified the talent, motivation, and ingenuity that the State Department works to support.
Entrepreneurs such as these partners drive prosperity and security across the region. Together they deliver products and services that enhance their communities while employing people. The experiences, insights, and stories shared last week are the reason to build entrepreneurship ecosystems around the world.
The "Celebration of Global Entrepreneurship" is only the starting point of a deeper conversation that will culminate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai next month. As the Summit's host Minister Mohammed al-Gergawi explained, the story of the United Arab Emirates is one of entrepreneurship that has made it a natural hub and convening spot for this year.
Entrepreneurship is the single most important driver of job creation in a country. Job growth, in turn, underpins long-term economic development and political stability. In regions with high youth unemployment, we've seen greater levels of dissatisfaction and unrest than in regions without unemployment issues. That's why the State Department is working worldwide to promote entrepreneurship as an alternative to traditional employment opportunities. Building broad coalitions and comprehensive partnerships -- including with foreign governments, multilateral organizations, civil society groups, universities, foundations, corporations, and others -- to address the challenges entrepreneurs face is a critical, ongoing theme for both the last week and the White House event. Yet this is only the beginning as the true power of entrepreneurship and partnerships are being unleashed globally.