We wrote this article about a year ago while attending the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2) in Istanbul, Turkey. This week, the same summit (GES 3) is taking place in Dubai so it is appropriate to bring back this article the next two posts that are also related to entrepreneurship.
Over the last two days [December 2011] I have been in the beautiful city of Istanbul to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit number 2. The reason for the number 2 is that the first one took place in the United States last year and number 3 will be in the United Arab Emirates in 2012.
The idea behind The Entrepreneurship Summit came from a speech that President Barrack Obama made in Egypt in 2009 that promised a closer ties between the United States and the countries with Muslim majority. Due to the importance of the Summit, this one was hosted by Turkey under the aegis of the Prime Minister of Turkey, who could not attend the opening for medical reasons but at least two Turkish ministers participated along with a minister from the UAE and United States Vice President. Now whether these summits are helping relations is to be debated but this blog is not the place for that discussion.
What is Entrepreneurship?
For some, it is “the courage to act”, it is about “challenging the status quo”, and in West Asia / North Africa it is expected to be the solution for current and future unemployment, especially among youth and the average age in this region is YOUNG (24 in the Arab World, 28 in Turkey) so youth unemployment is a huge challenge that must be dealt with NOW.
All World Network
In parallel to the Entrepreneurship Summit 2 there is almost an independent conference going on where I spent all of today at, which is All World Network, an initiative launched a few years ago with a focus on entrepreneurship, small and medium enterprises and growth. They include the Arabia 500+ Turkey rankings where SUKAD is proud to be one of the 500 ranked companies on the inaugural year of this ranking.
Most of the notes below came from today’s sessions that were organized by All World – amazing job.
Learning and Items Worth Noting
Some interesting learning at the summit and some dull moments but in general most speakers, panelists and attendees agree that Entrepreneurship is a must for economic growth in any country or region.
Quite a few debates are discussed at the summit and we will just highlight some points here.
- Are entrepreneurs born or made? This is basically the traditional debate of nature versus nurture. The general consensus? Some are born with innate skills to be entrepreneurs but others can learn how to become a successful one.
- What are the biggest challenges facing entrepreneurs? I am not sure if there is consensus here but a large number of those speaking or engaging say: “access to capital is the number 1 problem”. Others say maybe “access to market”. Yet another argument mentions “talent acquisition” while others are argue that today talent acquisition is not an issue, rather it is “work ethics“.
- Are government helping or hindering entrepreneurship? Tough one and I am not sure if there is an answer that is common across the large spectrum of countries represented at the Summit. Turkey seems to be doing well in supporting where other countries might not and some are trying but “government still do not get it” as one of the speakers emphasized.
- How can we work across borders? Interesting discussions. No clear answers but some panels are addressing opportunities. Today, the first panel discussed possible Turkish – Pakistani opportunities. Tomorrow morning there will be a discussion on Turkish – Saudi collaborations. Yet we all realize that it is very hard to work across countries and it is “mostly having to start from scratch in each country” as another speaker elaborated.
- What is the role of social media? Interesting learning from this session this afternoon. One interesting point from a speaker is that “many large companies in the region want to use social media but want to block comments”. A question was raised from the audience about “when is the right time for a company to launch social media … in other words if the company has internal problems should they be on social media?” A success story from Palestine is mostly about recruitment through mobiles and the need to “integrate social media with SMS”.
There is a great deal of learning and only shared a few thoughts here.
Tomorrow or the day after I hope to share the learning from Day 3 sessions (although it would be a late night tomorrow with the Arabia 500 recognition gala).
Maybe later this week, will have an article on Entrepreneurship and Project Management and the importance of project management in the launch of any new idea, business, initiative.