So there I was in Shanghai at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) as the Australian host with 100 hundred other country representatives, from Bermuda to Iceland.
It was an eclectic bunch of amazing pioneers.
Given the plethora of ‘conferences’ or ‘congresses’ – you may be forgiven for thinking that it is yet another re-hash of stale ideas or the ‘same old’ thing’.
With the GEC, this was most definitely not the case. There is a global movement of entrepreneurs. And it is picking up pace rapidly.
The GEC is funded by the Kauffman Foundation, a $2 billion foundation based in the US, whose mission is to establish and advance entrepreneurship globally.
The particular focus is on encouraging and supporting young entrepreneurs.
The Chinese shift
The news coming out of China is that entrepreneurship and its underpinnings are being integrated into the Chinese education curriculum as well as being encouraged as a national policy initiative and economic driver.
The creation of a sustainable eco-system which nurtures young and aspiring entrepreneurs was tabled as a strategic state objective as well as improvements being made to social welfare policies favouring entrepreneurs, ie. to make launching a start-up a little less risky.
The GEC highlighted several global initiatives that will hopefully find their way to Australia very shortly.
If you check out the StartupWeekend homepage it boldly states the following...‘No talk, all Action. Launch a Startup in 54 hours’.
This initiative is all about creating a global network of change makers, developers, designers and investors to create a community whose mission is to establish start-ups that have big impact, solve problems and seek to change the world.
Research from StartupWeekend demonstrates that about 36% of start-ups created during the 54 hour marathon are still in existence three months after it. And that about 80% of participants plan to stay connected long after the weekend.
This is about shortening the journey between idea and execution – and harnessing both social and financial capital to ‘create good stuff’.
“Instead of changing the world through revolution, we can change the world through innovation”
These are the words of the Chilean Minister of Economy, J.A. Fontaine.
In 2010, the Chilean Government decided to stamp its own global footprint in the entrepreneurship space. And it has hit a chord with StartupChile.
To achieve its goal of creating a network of global collaboration and to ‘put Chile on the map’, it is actively encouraging foreign entrepreneurs to bootstrap their businesses from Chile by providing cash as well as free office space, work visas and other incentives.
There is a vetting process to qualify for this initiative, including being assessed by Silicon Valley investors who ascertain whether your start-up has global ambition.
In 2011, this state-backed entrepreneurship initiative is hoping to attract 300 new high growth entrepreneurs to Chile.
The greenpreneur’s challenge
The Clean Tech Open (CTO) runs one of the world’s largest business idea competitions – and this one is for all you greenpreneurs.
The CTO’s stated goal is to “find, fund and foster companies with big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges.”
Each country hosts a national competition where you submit a three-minute video of your idea and how it positively impacts the environment.
Instead of the cumbersome application process that these types of competitions usually have, you only have five questions to answer. That’s it.
If you make it past the national round you go to Silicon Valley, meet with angel investors, venture capitalists and other key advisors who can make your idea a reality.
In addition, the global winner receives $100,000 worth of start-up services to execute the idea.
So far this initiative has raised over $260 million in funding and is hoping to expand to further countries in the next few years – Australia being one of them.
One key point that I came across at GEC is the need to think globally right from the beginning when it comes to start-ups.
Australia is placed to take advantage of many emerging and high growth markets and this attitude needs to be taken into account by all existing and aspiring young entrepreneurs.
Natasha Munasinghe is the GM of an educational company, The FRANK Team. FRANK’s mission is to enable young entrepreneurs to unleash good stuff in the world. Check out www.youngentrepreneurs.net.au