Posted at 1:06 PM
Yesterday marked the first day of the 7th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA. Following the last two successful Summits in Morocco and Kenya, GES 2016 came to Silicon Valley in order to highlight the success of thousands of firms in the area that exemplify America’s entrepreneurial spirit. This year's Summit brings 700 global entrepreneurs together with 300 investors and entrepreneurial supporters, creating a wealth of opportunity for investment, partnership, and collaboration.
This is the fourth GES for U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who is joined by 11 Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE). Launched by the Obama Administration in 2014 and chaired by Secretary Pritzker, the PAGE initiative is a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business leaders who volunteer their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.
The day began with a keynote address by Secretary of State John Kerry about the power of entrepreneurs to change the world and lead the global community toward prosperity, peace, and stability. The opening plenary session also featured an inspiring video with messages of encouragement from PAGE members to their fellow entrepreneurs at GES.
Afterward, Secretary Pritzker and five PAGE members toured the GES 2016 Innovation Marketplace, which showcases U.S. companies, organizations, and agencies that support entrepreneurs domestically and abroad. Their first stop was the Women's Entrepreneurship Fund, an initiative that's helping expand access to finance for women in 83 countries. The Fund was launched by the State Department this February in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank and Kiva, the innovative online lending platform led by PAGE member Julie Hanna. During the rest of the tour, the group visited the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise, the Stanford Technology Ventures Program, Power Africa, and the Commerce Department's own USPTO.
Amidst the sprawl of the Innovation Marketplace, it was hard to miss the gleam of the Google Portal--one of 20 gold-painted shipping containers located in public areas around the world and equipped with immersive audio and video technology. This Google Portal allowed Secretary Pritzker and several PAGE members to speak "in-person" with a small group of entrepreneurs in Mexico City at the city's leading business incubator, Centraal.
In the afternoon, Secretary Pritzker hosted an armchair discussion on Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership with Ruth Porat (Senior Vice President and CFO, Google and Alphabet Inc.), Annie Lamont (Managing Partner, Oak HC/FT), PAGE member Nina Vaca (Chairman and CEO, Pinnacle Group), and Nermin Sa’d (CEO and Founder, Handasiyat.net). The speakers shared their stories and insights on building entrepreneurial ecosystems across the globe, expanding access to venture capital, fostering diverse talent, and sharing success with up-and-coming women entrepreneurs through mentorship and outreach.
To close out their successful first day at GES, Secretary Pritzker and PAGE members sat down with a group of GES 2016 delegates for an intimate roundtable discussion on the challenges these entrepreneurs are facing abroad. Led by PAGE member Daymond John, the group took on topics ranging from accessing capital and information to advocating for entrepreneur-friendly laws and regulations in their home countries. PAGE members offered their advice to the delegates and shared their own experiences in building their businesses, stressing the importance of opportunities like pitch competitions to secure funding. Secretary Pritzker brought the roundtable to a close by encouraging the delegates to take advantage of GES and actively build their global network of fellow entrepreneurs and innovators.
GES 2016 continues today with keynotes by President Barack Obama and Secretary Pritzker, as well as more events and opportunities for entrepreneurs around the world to connect and share ideas.