By Rick Stengel, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State
From the Gold Rush to the digital age, America’s economy has been powered by the spirit and reality of entrepreneurship. Beginning with the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in 2009, President Obama has made the promotion of entrepreneurship a goal of U.S. foreign policy. The idea of entrepreneurship is one of most potent aspects of brand USA around the world. But it's also much more than that: it is a tool for development, for empowering marginalized groups and for combating violent extremism. It’s vital to creating the conditions for global growth and prosperity, particularly in regions where chaos and war have shattered dreams.
Last summer, more than 600 entrepreneurs from 120 countries attended the GES in Nairobi, Kenya. The Summit was one of the best and most inspiring events I’ve participated in during my time in government. From the Nigerian educator who has started a peace curriculum that combines Islamic studies with modern science to the Canadian grad students who are devising an algorithm that brings two sides closer in a negotiation, the Summit brought together an amazing collection of creative, courageous people, all of whom are working to make the world a better place.