President Obama today will take part in the 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Silicon Valley, California, which will feature new commitments to promote entrepreneurship as a driver for economic growth, social inclusion, and secure communities. Following his historic 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama elevated innovation and entrepreneurship in the U.S. engagement agenda and hosted the first GES at the White House in 2010. The United States has made significant strides in supporting entrepreneurship around the world by developing innovative ecosystems; advocating for stronger business climates through rule of law and transparent business conduct; catalyzing capital; building networks of innovators; promoting entrepreneurship for women, youth, and marginalized communities; and partnering with the private sector to expand impact.
With the eyes of the world on Silicon Valley, today the Obama Administration is announcing new commitments to advance entrepreneurship around the world. These announcements build on a week where the Administration has highlighted a powerful record of progress in fueling American innovation over the last seven and a half years and announcing major new steps we are taking to build on those efforts—including 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 has brought the best entrepreneurs and investors from 170 countries to the birthplace of modern innovation, highlighting that the dynamic enterprises driving new solutions can be found in every corner of the world. The summit convenes approximately 1,200 outstanding entrepreneurs and investors from across the world for dynamic, outcome-oriented sessions; mentoring; and opportunities to showcase their work. The summit showcases how investors and entrepreneurs from around the world are embracing the culture of entrepreneurship far beyond Silicon Valley.
GES has become a preeminent annual gathering that provides emerging entrepreneurs with exceptional networking, insight, and investment opportunities. During Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the White House on June 7, President Obama and Prime Minister Modi were pleased to announce India as the host of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, becoming the seventh country to host the event.
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 also will speak to U.S. government commitments and highlight private sector announcements that will provide entrepreneurs across the globe new opportunities for capital and mentorship, build their networks, and gain skills that will help their companies grow and thrive. The President will place a 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.
USAID’s Power Africa initiative launched the Scaling Off Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development that will invest $36m in promising enterprises, innovative technologies, and partnerships with local stakeholders to scale up clean energy solutions to reach millions of households that live beyond the reach of the electricity grid. This effort will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, philanthropists, and governments to support the growth of innovative ventures that are making off-grid solutions affordable for rural families and catalyze private investment to help these enterprises reach new markets.
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, and in particular in sub-Saharan Africa. Entrepreneurs will be identified and highlighted from the large cadre of energy innovators, researchers and partner institutions in the developing world that have worked with U.S. Government entities, including USAID, the Departments of Defense and Energy, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.
The Administration will facilitate opportunities for leading clean energy investors to evaluate and consider providing seed funding and similar investments to these entrepreneurs. 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 first round of the Administration's work on this initiative will be completed by November 1.
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.
President Obama will speak to the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI) to develop entrepreneurial skills and enhance economic opportunities for young professionals across Europe. To counter the challenges of inclusion and integration facing European youth, YTILI will support European entrepreneurs by offering training and exchanges, and building a European-Transatlantic network. YTILI will bring 200 Fellows to the United States in 2017. This is the fourth regional program within the U.S. Government’s Young Leaders Initiatives.
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.
U.S. development and financing agencies have surpassed the $1 billion mark over the past year in financing and investment for global ICT and connectivity projects, bringing Internet access to millions around the world. These efforts represent the Administration’s commitment to closing the digital divide and bring an additional 1.5 billion people online by 2020 through the Global Connect Initiative [https://share.america.gov/globalconnect/].
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.
Endeavor, an organization that supports entrepreneurs around the world, launched a $100 million co-investment fund -- Endeavor Catalyst II -- to invest in high-growth companies across Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Endeavor Catalyst II is a commitment by Endeavor and private sector leaders to support projects across the globe over the next four years. To date the fund has $30 million in pre-commitments.
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. The Platform will engage philanthropy more deeply on the Sustainable Development Goals by partnering with governments, the United Nations, philanthropy, civil society, and business.
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 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
1776, in partnership with Dell, launched Union to empower entrepreneurs around the world by connecting the global startup economy. Accessible through the Startup Federation -- a worldwide network of startup campuses and mega-hubs -- or virtually for entrepreneurs in remote areas, Union will provide entrepreneurs anywhere in the world the ability to reach the people, resources and education they need to take their ideas from seed to scale. Union is available via a mobile app and web tool, enabling entrepreneurs at all stages of growth to tap into the resources they need to scale and succeed no matter what city or country they live in.
The World Bank launched the Women for Resilience Initiative to strengthen the entrepreneurial capabilities of women entrepreneurs from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in the resilience value chain by providing them with funding and business support services. The program connects and trains women from across MENA and creates a vibrant community of leaders of tomorrow who will positively impact the region and the world.
Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) Antonio Gracias launched ADELANTE, an international exchange program for Cuban entrepreneurs. This program provides emerging Cuban entrepreneurs with an opportunity to visit the U.S., meet and exchange ideas with U.S. entrepreneurs, network with business leaders, and receive relevant training. By building connections between entrepreneurs in Cuba and the United States, Adelante seeks to foster a closer relationship between the people of the two countries.
The KIND Foundation, in partnership with Venture for America, announced that it will host its first 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.
Ecosystem Support Initiatives
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, announced the “Startup Catalyst” initiative that will invest in accelerators and seed funds to support innovation ecosystems in emerging economies. Startup Catalyst aims to support and invest in seed funding mechanisms around the world to help build innovation ecosystems that support entrepreneurship and create jobs in developing countries. The first three Startup Catalyst initiative investments include Flat6Labs, a Cairo-based accelerator supporting technology startups throughout Egypt; CRE, a Sub-Saharan focused seed fund investing in visionary entrepreneurs; and 500 Mexico City, an accelerator working to spur the growth of technology startups across Latin America.
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.