President Obama took part in the 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California, which featured new commitments to promote entrepreneurship as a driver for economic growth, social inclusion, and secure communities. The United States has made significant strides in supporting entrepreneurship around the world with the development of innovative ecosystems created by partnering with the private sector to expand the impact of the programs.
The Obama Administration announced new commitments to advance entrepreneurship around the world. These announcements include supporting advanced manufacturing and making, laying the groundwork for smart and connected cities, supporting next-generation technologies, and promoting inclusive entrepreneurship and innovation here at home.
GES 2016 brought the best entrepreneurs and investors from 170 countries to SIlicon Valley, the birthplace of modern innovation, highlighting that the dynamic enterprises driving new solutions can be found in every corner of the world. 1,200 outstanding entrepreneurs and investors from across the world attended dynamic, outcome-oriented sessions; mentoring; and opportunities to showcase their work, and showcased how investors and entrepreneurs from around the world are embracing the culture of entrepreneurship far beyond Silicon Valley.
The President signed an Executive Order to institutionalize key entrepreneurship programs of his Administration in recognition of the fact that entrepreneurship is a hallmark of American leadership in the world. The President placed special emphasis on supporting youth, women, and minority entrepreneurs as drivers of innovation and investment in their home communities.
U.S. Government Commitment to Global Entrepreneurship
The U.S. Government is committing significant new resources to advance entrepreneurship around the world:
- President Obama signed an Executive Order institutionalizing programs that support entrepreneurship around the world, including the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and the Global Connect Initiative.
- President Obama will announce the launch of an effort to encourage greater investments in small-scale clean energy entrepreneurs from developing countries. The Administration will identify and highlight entrepreneurs working to provide affordable, reliable, and significantly scalable on-grid or off-grid energy solutions that meet the renewable energy and energy efficiency needs of individuals, enterprises, and communities in the developing world.
- Building in part on the work and vision of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC), launched in Paris last year, a number of BEC members and other leading international investors have agreed to support this effort by working with the US Government to develop a process to consider potential investments. These investors include Aliko Dangote, Bill Gates, Paul G. Allen (Vulcan Capital), Strive Maisiyiwa, Matt Rogers and Swati Mylavarapu, Nat Simons and Laura Baxter-Simons (Prelude Ventures), Dipender Saluja (Capricorn Investment Group), Tom Steyer, and Mark Zuckerberg.
- The U.S. Department of State and Kiva, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for loans, have joined forces to launch the Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund, which aims to help crowdfund loans to one million women entrepreneurs over the next five years. The Fund has a special focus on women entrepreneurs in the growth phases, offering loans greater than the average microfinance loan. To date, an estimated $500,000 has been pledged with commitments from corporations and foundations.
- USAID announced its Feed the Future Call for Cool Storage Solutions. Through a competitive call for innovations, USAID will provide up to $2.5 million in funding and mentoring to entrepreneurs to help them adapt, pilot and scale their proven cool storage solutions to prevent food loss and waste in countries where the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative focuses efforts. This call will expand the impact of USAID’s investment by catalyzing private investment that strengthens food chains between farms and markets.
- To connect America’s top technologists and innovators with entrepreneurs in Africa, USAID and 500 Startups announced they will bring the Geeks on a Plane tour to Sub-Sahara Africa for the first time in March 2017. The 11-day trip to Accra, Lagos, Cape Town and Johannesburg will engage with African entrepreneurs and innovators and explore partnership and investment opportunities. The trip will culminate with the 2017 Global Entrepreneur Congress in Johannesburg.
- The State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program will host an exchange program for government technology leaders and their private-sector partners from more than a dozen countries this fall. Participants will take part in a design sprint developed in partnership with the U.S. Digital Service, the Presidential Innovation Fellows, and 18F. After traveling to cities around the U.S., including San Francisco, to look at how governments at the city, state, and federal level are partnering with the tech sector, they will return home and drive digital transformation within their governments to better tackle policy challenges and deliver improved services to citizens.
- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at the Department of Commerce launched its online Global Entrepreneurship Portal to provide U.S. innovators and business the knowledge, tools, and guards necessary to protect their technologies, and navigate intellectual property regimes in foreign countries, as they scale their businesses across borders and markets. The Global Entrepreneurship Portal will arm innovators – from solo inventors to Fortune 500 companies — with tools to facilitate exports and empower global expansions.
Private Sector Impact
At GES 2016, private sector companies around the world announced initiatives that support to the next generation of entrepreneurs through capital mentorship and training, ecosystem support, and research:
- CalPERS—California announced that they will open up an $11 billion global solicitation for new emerging manager investment strategies. This will identify early funds that include international investments in global entrepreneurs with strong potential for success; accessing unique investment opportunities that may otherwise be overlooked; and cultivating the next generation of external portfolio management talent.
- Capria Ventures, the first global business accelerator for impact fund managers, announced the launch of the Capria Emerging Managers Fund, a $100M venture fund that will invest in fund managers who have compelling investment programs targeting entrepreneurs in emerging economies across Africa, Central and South America, and South and Southeast Asia. Capria has also selected its next cohort of fund managers who will come to a multi-week acceleration program later this year.
- The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation announced the launch of a new fund totaling $65 million to find, fund and support 100 early stage, high impact social enterprises that are tackling some of the world’s most challenging problems in our world, including access to healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, opportunity equality, social justice, and the environment.
- The SDG Philanthropy Platform [sdgfunders.org], an initiative of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, UNDP, and the Foundation Center, announced an initiative launching in India later this year that focuses on women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship, mobilizing at least $500,000 in financial contributions within the next six months.
- NOW Ventures (NOW) is a new venture capital platform that will invest in, enable and amplify early stage startups that deliver positive social benefits alongside competitive financial returns. NOW was founded by Shiza Shahid, an entrepreneur and global activist, who supported Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, and co-founded the nonprofit Malala Fund. The NOW platform was launched in partnership with the investment marketplace AngelList and will be advised by Silicon Valley Bank. NOW launched the first ever use of AngelList to support impactful and mission-driven founders through a dedicated syndicate. NOW will mobilize early stage funding, with the first phase targeting forty investments of $200,000 each. Each founder will receive mentoring and be featured on AngelList.
- Obvious Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investing in entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving the systemic challenges of our time, awarded a GES delegate a $50,000 #worldpositive prize to a business that every dollar of profit made aligns with a mission driven purpose.
Mentorship and Training Commitments
- The KIND Foundation, in partnership with Venture for America, announced that it will host its The KIND Entrepreneur Summit. The convening, which will take place during National Entrepreneurship Month, aims to support aspiring and early stage entrepreneurs in building businesses that are not only economically sustainable but also socially impactful.
- Affinis Labs announced Rising Margins, a series of hackathons and training sessions to support entrepreneurship and job creation for socioeconomically disadvantaged communities around the world. The initiative seeks to broaden economic inclusivity by empowering communities as grassroots drivers — not simply beneficiaries — of economic growth.
- RippleWorks released the “The Human Capital Crisis: How Social Enterprises Can Find the Talent to Scale” report. Through analysis of 628 entrepreneurs around the world and interviews with more than 40 organizations, the report found that human capital, not funding, is the biggest challenge as companies grow. This study provides new insights and actionable recommendations for how social entrepreneurs and impact investors can scale their businesses and their impact, and underscores the need for seasoned entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and beyond to become more actively engaged in supporting the development of social enterprises.
- Silicon Valley Bank released their StartupOutlook 2016 survey that focused on women achieving leadership positions and women leadership programs in companies in the United States, United Kingdom, and China. The report showed that 46 percent of U.S. technology and life science companies had no women in executive positions, and 66 percent had no women on their boards of directors.