Global Entrepreneurship Week Makes Its Debut With Participating U.S. Corporations
Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 17-23) created by the Kauffman Foundation in the United States and Make Your Mark in the United Kingdom, was recently launched for with international participation from 77 countries, 5 million participants and more than 13,000 events worldwide. In the United States, more than 1,200 partners hosted 800-plus events throughout the country to celebrate entrepreneurship and encourage young people to become more innovative and entrepreneurial.
"Innovation is the key to propelling nations beyond current economic conditions," said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. "The Week will offer education, inspiration and fun for aspiring entrepreneurs of any age, and anywhere in the world."
Supporters of Global Entrepreneurship Week include: Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group; Pan Shiyi, founder of SOHO China; Russell Simmons, U.S. hip hop pioneer; Lord Bilimoria, founder of Cobra Beer; Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple; Sir Alan Sugar, founder of Amstrad and star of the U.K.'s The Apprentice. Global businesses supporting the Week include global sponsors Ernst & Young, IBM and NYSE Euronext, as well as Honda, Dell, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Intel.
In support of the week, IBM facilitated and broadcasted roundtable discussions via the web to help all entrepreneurs - including Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American and women - globally succeed. Its WomenSpeak Live Webcasts focused on "Women Entrepreneurs Leading Innovation Globally."
Moderated by Marilyn Johnson, vice president, Market Development for IBM Corporation, the webcasts brought successful women business leaders and entrepreneurs together from around the world to discuss the questions, struggles and opportunities women entrepreneurs face in today's global economy. Panelists included: Maria Contreras-Sweet, PROMERICA Bank; Virginia P'an, China Pacific Partners LLC & TransCapital Group LLC; Bola Olabisi, Global Women Inventions & Innovation Network; Marsha Firestone, Women Presidents' Organization, Chin-Ning Chu, Asian Marketing Consultants; Sharon Hadary, Center for Women’s Business Research; Hiroko Tatebe, Global Organization for Leadership and Diversity; and Elizabeth Thornton, Entrepreneurship Faculty at Babson College.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, founding chairwoman of PROMERICA Bank and one of the first Latinas in the country to found a publicly traded company, challenged women around the world to understand more about the financing of corporations and financing, in general. She said, "We need to contemplate starting our own funds, so that we can fund our sisters. We need to become investors and believe in each other."
Marsha Firestone, Ph.D., founder and president of the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO), a peer advisory organization for women who own multimillion-dollar businesses, encouraged women to start business, even in a slow economy. She said, "It is still a good time to start a business. There are some creative opportunities out there - and you face the challenges by seizing the opportunities."
Sharon G. Hadary, cxecutive director of the Center for Women's Business Research, the premier nonprofit research institute dedicated exclusively to conducting research on women business owners and their enterprises worldwide, encourages women to build more networks than ever. "The most successful business owners are the ones who join more organizations and networks that help them learn about business, expand their marketplace, develop their customer base and relationships with suppliers."
Overall, the webcast reinforced that women are the drivers of small and midsize businesses and represent the hope of reviving the slow economy here in the U.S. and around the world.