Imagine if Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs had been born in Africa or Asia or Latin America. Do you think they would have realized their potential? Now imagine if each of these men had a sister who was also an innovator. Do you think she would have had access to the same resources her brother enjoyed, to realize her dreams?
Secretary Hillary Clinton used to say: “Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.” As Secretary of State, she worked hard to create more opportunities for people across the globe. She understood that when you elevate others and unleash human potential to drive global prosperity, it advances both our national security interests and those of people everywhere.
Today, it is estimated that there are nearly 400 million entrepreneurs starting and running businesses in the 54 economies surveyed by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. According to the report’s lead author, Donna Kelley, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Babson, “Even better news is that over 140 million of these entrepreneurs expect to add at least five new jobs over the next five years. These figures and growth projections affirm that entrepreneurial activity is flourishing across the globe and that entrepreneurship, as an economic engine, is the best hope for reviving a weakened world economy.”
Emerging markets like Turkey and Mexico and developing countries like Egypt and Nigeria are all experiencing tremendous growth in young people seizing the opportunity to create their own future and drive economic well-being. Yet, if you ask any company founder anywhere on the planet what is the one resource they most need? It is capital.
Numbers of organizations including development agencies and banks, NGOs, corporations and angel groups have begun to turn their attention to the role they can play in unleashing this powerful force by improving access to capital for young companies. Crowdfunding is also being considered by many for their ventures.
In the development world, programs like the Global Entrepreneurship Program at the U.S. Department of State, offered in 150 countries, and the Enterprise Development Network at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation have begun to make a dent in building entrepreneurial ecosystems and connecting entrepreneurs with new sources of funding. NGOs such as the Global Banking Alliance for Women and Acumen prepare businesses for early-stage and growth capital.
Corporations also play a key role. Over the past four years, over 180 corporate venture funds were launched, bringing the total number to over 900. Companies including American Express, Dell Computer and Yahoo! have all made investments in innovative ventures in various parts of the world. For young businesses seeking early-stage capital, angel groups like Keiretsu Forum are having an increasing impact as they expand globally. Finally, a report published by Crowdfund Capital Advisors and the World Bank identified the opportunity to crowd-source capital for growing firms, “leapfrog[ing] the traditional capital market structures and financial regulatory regimes of the developed world.”
These organizations and others like them are providing the funding for everything from traditional energy and infrastructure companies to agriculture and tourism, as well as to a new generation of high-tech startups driven by the globalization of technology and communications.
In turn, they are fueling the other revolution, the global entrepreneurship revolution that is the key to driving economic prosperity in all our economies.