Every year the World Economic Forum takes place in Davos. This global event was founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab and has now become the global platform where business executives, political leaders, activists and thought leaders get together to improve the state of the world. Wide arrays of topics are discussed and this year entrepreneurship took the centre stage in many discussions. Below follows a synthesis of the role of entrepreneurship in 2011 and the future to improve the global economy and society.
Entrepreneurship in Medvedev’s Keynote speech
Entrepreneurship not only took the centre stage at the forum but has been mentioned from the beginning as Russia’s President Medvedev opened up the annual meeting with his keynote speech. His words made it clear that the private sector not only solves crisis in the short term but is the only way forward in the longer term. Russia is trying to develop innovative entrepreneurship by creating a “Russian Silicon Valley” called Skolkovo, previously mentioned in our blog. In addition new legislation is being drafted to foster entrepreneurship to allow new ventures to have “preferential treatment”.
From Russia to The Entrepreneurship Imperative
The Entrepreneurship Imperative has been the title of a panel where the importance of taught entrepreneurship was discussed. The panel argued that entrepreneurship needs to be taught not as a subject but as a state of mind on a global level. From primary education to business schools a model where risk taking is encouraged alongside sustainable development and the generation of entrepreneurs rather than managers.
Another key issue discussed was the idea that in order to be a sustainable entrepreneur one needs to be able to deal with failure understanding that the world’s success stories are the point of a much bigger iceberg. In addition role models are encouraged to take an active participation in fostering entrepreneurship and teaching that the importance of new ventures is not only money but job creation and the spread of certain values. An important fact from the panel is that SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) are the top employers in the world, not multinational corporations!
Entrepreneurship as the Pillar for the Middle-East growth
The Middle-East is “blessed” with a young and fast growing population, but this can be a double-edge sword if there is little job creation. Further this region has a climate that limits supply of water and food. Some countries are blessed with oil and gas fields, but these will not last forever. Innovative entrepreneurship in the fields of water and agriculture as well as in major tech and biotech industries are seen as a must for this region to increase employment and steer away from social unrest.
This panel of experts discussed the importance of teaching entrepreneurship related skills to foster this body of knowledge and parity of opportunities to both genders and all income groups. The panel also reinforced that the legal structures and institutions that are in place in these countries should shift to create a better environment for taking risks, creating new ventures and ease bankruptcy procedure.
Scaling-up Big Ideas & Social Entrepreneurship
Big ideas and social entrepreneurship are a hard match, but very possible according to this panel, what is needed is a pinch of help from multinationals and some willingness to give away some control. It’s a challenge to set up local social ventures and survive for long, so one can imagine the challenge it can be to scale existing social ventures to reach more people in dispersed geographic locations. The panel spoke of two examples where social entrepreneurs teamed up with corporations to implement social projects. The first example given was Coca-Cola producing the “Mango Haiti Hope Juice” while the second example was with Cemex selling concrete at cost to develop communities where the people put in their labour. The reality is that in both example the social entrepreneurs had to make the sacrifices to give away a lot of the power in order for the projects to be carried ahead. In order to scale in such a manner or by creating partnerships and franchises the social entrepreneur must give away some control and power for the good of the project.
Listed were some of the insights into entrepreneurship at Davos and what the world intellectual elite is thinking. Some ongoing themes appear that entrepreneurship is what keeps countries growing by providing jobs and in turns diminishes the chances of social unrest. In parallel, policies, decisions and actions that impede entrepreneurship are harmful on a short and long term perspective. The real issue though is not whether entrepreneurship is bad or good or if it should or shouldn’t be implemented. The question is how can entrepreneurship values be taught to increase the rate of entrepreneurship and the positive values around it?