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Global Entrepreneurship Week Blog
The power of Global Entrepreneurship Week is its ability to bring people together—to expand their networks, and in turn, expand their ideas.
This is what happened at an event in Beirut, where Ayah Bdeir, founder of an open hardware project called LittleBits and an Eyebeam senior fellow, met John Wilbanks, a vice president with Creative Commons, a nonprofit devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally build upon and share. By the end of the conversation, the two had decided to co-host a conference in New York City.
The conference, which took place March 18-19, was all about open-source hardware. Open-source hardware (also called OH) is pre-made electronic equipment that can help individuals design devices of their own. The goal of OH is to speed up product development and improve accessibility for designers who have ideas, but lack extensive technical backgrounds. However, with technology evolving faster than the law can keep up, keeping track of the rules of open-source hardware can be confusing. Because OH involves building new inventions off of preexisting technology, it is difficult to determine who owns what. Navigating the maze of intellectual property laws can discourage people from turning their best ideas into reality.
The workshop tackled this concept, fostering a direct dialogue between Creative Commons representations and a number of the major players in the OH community.
See footage of the NYC meeting, which took place March 18-19.
There was so much going on at the GEC it was hard to catch it all. Check out some of the highlights overheard by the GEW Global Staff:
"Let’s just remind ourselves of one thing—entrepreneurship is a French word. Just five years ago my President came back from the US and said, 'This is ridiculous. I hear the word entrepreneur all around the world, but France is not recognized as entrepreneurs.'” -Caroline Cleary, Journee de l'Entrepreneur, France
"There was a survey of 1,000 random phones of people who had not participated in GEW to see if we had an impact—if people had heard of GEW. We found a20 percent increase in the awareness of government programs due to the Week, and 20 percent of the public were aware without participating. We will make Denmark one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world through our work with GEW."
--Anders Hoffman, Ministry for Economic and Business Affairs, Denmark
"Global Entrepreneurship Week -- every week, every month, every year. It’s not a campaign for us, but a crusade."
--Dhakshinamoorthy "Dash" Balakrishnan, Warisan Global, Malaysia
"In Dubai, you can have an elevator pitch that’s 50 floors. In Bermuda, it’s 5, so we changed the name to Rocket Pitch."
--Joe Mahoney, Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative of Bermuda, about Bermuda's business plan competition for GEW 2009
"The world needs the Cleantech Open to shine a light on clean technology ideas and to help turn them into sustainable businesses."
--Rex Northern, Cleantech Open Ideas Competition
"An entrepreneur is someone who has a dream and works effortlessly to achieve that dream."
--Dr. Robert Richards, senior director of Dubai Men's College,
"Do it because you believe. Have passion and follow your heart. If someone says you can't do it that way, do it anyway."
--Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
While each of the 88 countries involved in Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2009 had inspiring and unique campaigns, when it came time to chose the top country, the choice was clear: Canada.
The Canadians combined inspiring events with effective media outreach and high-profile entrepreneurs to engage more than 40 percent of the country’s citizens.
Vivian Prokop, chief executive officer of Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF), Canada’s host organization for GEW, said she was completely shocked when the award for Country of the Year was announced at the 2nd annual Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Dubai. However, the Canadian government seemed to share the same level of assurance as the GEW global staff, who gave the award. Just as the GEC was starting on March 9, the government awarded CYBF $10 million in new funding.
While money has been tight in Canada, just as it has been around the world, the return on investment for CYBF proves why it is a priority for funding in the eyes of the Canadian government. For every $1 invested, Prokop said $3 is invested back into the economy.
Prokop attributed much of CYBF’s success to strategic partnerships.
“You need to work through others,” she said. “You will never reach scale unless you think strategically and make sure your partners have the same long-term goals for entrepreneurship. We are a conduit to bring all of these partners together.”
Some of these partnerships included media organizations, who offered in-kind support of advertising, to help spread the message of GEW.
“One of our main campaign goals was to have our message reach the Canadian public,” Prokop said. “You’re not only trying to change the minds of young entrepreneurs, but parents, educators and corporations.”
The implied task in this goal is to convince various audiences that the payoff of supporting entrepreneurship will result in investment in everything from health care, to transportation.
That was the message spread across the country, through 15 newspapers, 3 national magazines, outdoor billboards, and advertisements in major airports and a number of elevator screens.
Canada’s campaign was also bolstered by the high quality events they hosted, including the Ypreneur Gene Competition. An entrepreneur whose company helps people sell their homes without a real estate agent offered to lead a competition, with the winner awarded ownership of one of his franchises. The competition engaged young people across the country, with the finalists answering questions about their entrepreneurial spirit live on CBC’s show Dragon’s Den.
Other highlights included the Great Canadian Mentoring Challenge, which asked business professionals from across Canada to share their advice with young entrepreneurs through an online forum and at a live event in Toronto. The Youth Entrepreneurship Summit also championed collaboration, bringing together leading experts from government, education, business and non-profit organizations, to help develop a framework and recommendations for Canada’s first youth entrepreneurship strategy.
The campaign was also star-studded, with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales attending an exclusive entrepreneurial showcase featuring 2 of CYBF’s entrepreneurs from across Canada. The event served as a pre-launch for GEW Canada.