We just wrapped up observance of Global Entrepreneurship Week (Nov. 18-24). For the uninitiated, or those who might scoff and think it’s just another annual designation (National Grilled Cheese Month is every April!), this is one observance attached to actual helpful ideas and actions.
The week is described as “the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.” It began in 2007 and is guided by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Jonathan Ortmans of the Kauffman Foundation is president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. His theory on the concept is included on a fun video presentation on gew.co.
It says, in part:
“The field of entrepreneurship is no longer something of narrow commercial significance. It’s something of more cultural consequence. It’s something that represents the possibility of human endeavor for the benefit of all. … In a sense, we see more citizens trying their hand at helping the world innovate its way out of its challenges. The world needs more entrepreneurs. It’s a question of inspiring more people to recognize that it’s more important to the future of their societies than they previously recognized.”
What Does It All Mean?
So, what does this all mean? The organization reports thousands of activities happening in more than 130 countries, including workshops, mentoring and networking events. This includes competitions for young startups. Here’s a sample:
Startup Open: This recognizes 50 up-and-coming startups that have emerged in the past year. Those selected companies compete for prizes that are announced during the week.
Global Startup Battle: A sort of start-up boot camp. Teams in 200 cities spend 54 hours trying to brainstorm and launch new startups. A panel of experts judges the efforts, and the winners advance to battle each other.
Startup Cup: This is a part of the State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program, in which entrepreneurs learn how to develop a business model and grow that business.
CoFounders Lab: A matchmaking effort for entrepreneurs looking to build or join a startup team.
The event has grown to attract a slew of influential supporters, dubbed Faces of GEW. A few of note:
- President Barack Obama has issued annual proclamations recognizing Global Entrepreneurship Week.
- Former President Bill Clinton spoke at a 2012 conference.
- Richard Branson of the Virgin Group has provided the grand prize to the Startup Open, and was a guest speaker at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress.
- Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and other business endeavors, participated in a Movers and Changers forum.
- Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, has served on a panel and as a keynote speaker.
- Calvin Broadus, better known as rap star Snoop Dogg, participated in a mentoring forum (and even did the opening bell honors at the New York Stock Exchange).
“Global Entrepreneurship Week is an idea bigger than all of the communities that make it up,” Ortmans says, “and it represents something that we can all aspire to, which is to be part of one global community of people, ferreting out better ways of doing things and improving the lives of our citizens.”
Written by: David Kiger