US and Morocco Sound Strong Support for Global Entrepreneurship
The fifth Global Entrepreneurship Summit kicked off this week with a meeting between Vice President Joseph Biden and King Mohammed VI and opening remarks by Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker at the Summit’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day event. Held in a special tented facility in Marrakech, the Summit, which seeks to promote greater support and resources for entrepreneurs, especially in Muslim-majority countries, has brought together more than 3,000 private and public sector participants.
In an article in the Washington Post, Vice President Biden was quoted as saying, “The secret people don’t know is that our diversity is the reason for our incredible strength. But the world and the United States will be more peaceful and prosperous, when the brightest, the most innovative, the greatest risk takers believe they can reach their potential at home.” He went on to add that every country should understand the benefits of supporting entrepreneurship broadly, for men and women, as both a boon for economic development and an effective tool in combating radicalism and extremism.
Secretary Pritzker, speaking to more than 300 women on the opening day, reflected on her own business experience and on the necessity of building holistic support systems for all entrepreneurs. “I must say that I am so inspired by the women at this summit – all of you. Your dynamism; your fearlessness; your courage to not only enter the workforce, but to start a business is so inspiring to me. Your appetite for risk, your vision for your companies, and, indeed, your vision for your societies, comprise the very definition of the entrepreneurial spirit.”
She noted that innovation and entrepreneurism have been central to the growth of the US economy and that one of her priorities is to share lessons learned globally. “The opportunity for business creators to thrive is the foundation for a rising middle class, for security and stability, and for broad based prosperity.”
Reflecting on the themes of inclusive and sustainable growth, the Secretary pointed out that “Societies can only reach their full economic potential if they tap into 100 percent of their talent pool. That means embracing the ideas and aspirations of our youth. That means enabling women to get a good education and secure the capital needed to start their own companies. That means allowing women to dictate their own futures. That means empowering you – and all women entrepreneurs. When women entrepreneurs take risks and succeed, societies change for the better.”
King Mohammed VI Underlines Morocco’s Commitment to Innovation and Entrepreneurism
In his address at the opening of the Summit, King Mohammed VI spoke quite forcefully about the benefits of promoting innovation and entrepreneurism.
“In keeping with its core values and basic principles, Morocco believes wholeheartedly in the Summit’s objectives. It has been devoting its energies to promoting human and sustainable development and investing in entrepreneurship. My country also encourages the sharing of expertise and know-how and maximizing the complementary strengths of all parties, particularly between the countries of the South.”
After summarizing Morocco’s commitment to regional development, the King embraced the notion that being an entrepreneur is not a function of luck but requires much more. “One is not born an entrepreneur; one becomes an entrepreneur by embarking on the road to success in an interactive process involving hard work, learning and a capacity to deal with challenges. Entrepreneurs are people who challenge the established order and the status quo. They do not hesitate to respond – at their own level – to needs that are yet to be identified, that are unmet or that are new.”
Reflecting on Morocco’s challenges to accelerate economic growth, the King tied together the notions of social and human development with the role of entrepreneurs. “Entrepreneurship and innovation are twin values; they are both springboards for freedom, social mobility and prosperity, provided the business environment is favorable and the required conditions are met.” He restated Morocco’s commitment to working with the private sector to promote a favorable environment for business to thrive and expressed his belief that it all begins with adequate education.
“Education is an essential step, a prerequisite for the maturation process that leads people to think critically and to hone their skills so that they are able to seize an economic, technological or social opportunity when they see one. Therefore, it is up to us to provide future generations with an education that goes beyond the mere ‘accumulation-transmission’ process in order to develop creativity, responsiveness and inventiveness.”
The King sees how all of these ingredients – education, innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity – have vital implications for Africa and beyond. “To overcome the pessimism that has plagued our continent, our governments should instill self-confidence in our young people so that they can believe in their ability to learn and to become entrepreneurs. To this end, we need to nurture positive examples and turn success stories into models to emulate. The same applies to female entrepreneurship, which holds so much promise for our economies and our societies that we all need to encourage it; otherwise, we will be depriving ourselves of a huge potential.”
The value of entrepreneurship in achieving sustainable and inclusive growth is relevant in the context of Morocco’s aspirations, as well as those of young people across the globe. “We must not confuse technological innovation with technical sophistication. The so-called low-tech innovations – just like more sophisticated technologies – can help us meet specific needs, especially in developing countries. Innovations of this kind are often helpful in terms of supporting social development and improving the well-being of the population.”
As the Summit proceeds, there are special sessions focused on innovators from Africa, women, successful entrepreneurs sharing their stories and offer support, as well as experts in finance, marketing, business plan development, and the other elements of the entrepreneurship eco-system. It is an opportunity to go beyond showcasing what has been done to investing in future entrepreneurs who can change the business face of many countries.