Global Entrepreneurship Week: Give Entrepreneurs the Tools They Need

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rupert Scofield is the President and CEO of FINCA International and the author of the new book The Social Entrepreneur’s Handbook: How to Start, Build, and Run a Business That Improves the World.

It seems that we have lost sight of a simple truth in the midst of today’s global economic and social turmoil: Giving people the tools they need to become entrepreneurs is perhaps the strongest solution we have for the challenges we face.

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week. Individuals around the world will highlight the transformative power of entrepreneurship. Rarely are we given the chance to address an issue that so directly affects everyone from the unemployed merchant on Main Street America to the struggling farmer in rural Africa. We must amplify these voices and catalyze a public discussion about spurring the creation of small enterprises in both the developed and developing worlds. In doing so, we must also expand our definition of entrepreneurship to more definitively include social ventures, which both create jobs and also fill voids left by dwindling public resources.

The importance of entrepreneurship to global economics is hard to overstate. Nearly 250 million people are involved in entrepreneurial activity, according to the latest 2010 survey by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), a not-for-profit research consortium that analyzes data from 59 diverse economies. GEM found that 63 million of those people anticipate hiring five employees over the next five years, while 27 million individuals anticipate hiring twenty or more employees in that span.

In the U.S., there is clearly a huge amount of entrepreneurial energy to be fostered and unleashed. The Kauffman Foundation, which sponsors GEW, released a study in March that showed more Americans became entrepreneurs in 2010 than at any time in the last 15 years. Nearly 565,000 new small businesses were created in 2010. In the developing world, rates of entrepreneurial activity in some countries, particularly in Africa, have skyrocketed in the last decade, contributing to historic economic growth rates. While the situation remains fragile due to the continuing downturn, people’s eagerness to launch new ideas and businesses remains as strong as ever.

Source: The Washington Post (link opens in a new window)