An impressive collection of organizations have come together to answer President Barack Obama’s call at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya, to advance entrepreneurship and economic growth around the world.
Representatives of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) participated in a formal signing ceremony at the Summit, committing to lead the Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative. Spark is a coalition that is seeking to mobilize like-minded organizations, companies and investors that collectively generate more than $1 billion dollars in private investment for emerging entrepreneurs by the end of 2017.
“The world is full of nascent entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas—but they need stronger ecosystems to help them unleash those ideas and grow them into game-changing startups,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Network and one of three Spark coalition co-chairs. “Spark increases coordination and collaboration among startup support programs and amplifies their efforts.”
The first wave of companies that have stepped forward include Citi, EY, GE, Google and IBM. Two African companies, Rendeavour, the continent’s largest urban land developer, and SkyPower, the largest provider of utility-scale solar power projects in the world, have joined as well.
“African entrepreneurship has been the missing link in Africa’s development. The actions of just one entrepreneur sends ripples across a community and entrepreneurship lifts people permanently out of poverty and creates social wealth,” said Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. “We all know entrepreneurship, anywhere in the world, is not easy nor is success guaranteed. All stakeholders – the private sector, governments, NGOs and donors – must make a commitment to use their respective powers to address the hurdles facing African entrepreneurs. That is what Spark is all about.”
Spark taps into the growing involvement of government programmess in helping entrepreneurs start and scale new firms.
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden announced the Spark initiative at the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco and outlined the commitments of some of the most active and effective U.S. government programs such as the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, Young African Leaders Initiative, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and more.
Spark is asking for commitments from organizations and individuals willing to “start the spark” by collaborating and contributing resources, networks, data and ideas to multiply efforts and help founders start and scale new firms.
“We are excited to leverage our in-market presence in nearly 50 countries to support Spark, inspire today’s entrepreneurs and foster the next generation globally,” said Vijay K. Tirathrai, CEO of Entrepreneurs’ Organization. “Our organization provides numerous platforms to bring entrepreneurs together for enhanced learning and leadership growth. Spark is a natural extension of our commitment and we call on others to join us and affect positive change through entrepreneurial support.”