Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
More than a century and a half ago, John Stuart Mill, one of Britain's
greatest philosophers, defined enterprise not narrowly in terms of finance or
trade but more widely as "the desire to keep moving . . . to be trying and
accomplishing new things for our own benefit or that of others." And today
Global Entrepreneurship Week, which views enterprise in similarly broad terms
as, quite simply, "unleashing ideas," is conceived in that same spirit.
Since our kick-off announcement in London in November 2007, more than
seventy-five nations have joined the campaign and are part of an international
wave of enthusiasm about the potential of the entrepreneurial spirit to improve
the lives and economies of people around the world. Indeed, for an idea that
started out with the backing of only a few people and with little financial
support to have gathered such momentum in such a short space of time is itself a
fitting tribute to the power of global enterprise.
Reflecting the values and focus of Enterprise Week, which has now been
running for more than four years in the UK, Global Entrepreneurship Week is a
truly exciting and innovative development, bringing young people together across
national borders, inspiring them to turn their ideas into reality and
encouraging a new and thoroughly international spirit of enterprise.
And we will need people with an outlook that is both entrepreneurial and
global in the years ahead. As globalisation gathers pace, every country in the
world is having to face up to far-reaching and fundamental changes and
challenges. The world economy is set to double in the next twenty years, with
over 1 billion new professional or high-skilled jobs and new types of creative
and knowledge-based industries emerging, and we will need the ideas, the
insights, and the creativity of all our people if we are to compete effectively
and collaborate imaginatively in the years ahead.
But that entrepreneurial spirit doesn't stop at national borders, which is
why the links that Global Entrepreneurship Week is helping to create—locally,
nationally, and internationally through online social networks—are so important,
connecting young people from London to Abuja, Ottawa to Montevideo in a global
effort to help new ideas to develop, to grow, and to have an impact.
This campaign has also shown that, to nurture enterprising young talent to
the full, we need to build a new and far-sighted partnership of business,
education, government, voluntary organisations, and the media all working
together to provide support and to create opportunities on an ambitious scale.
Starting up and running a business is not always easy, and across the world I
believe we must do everything possible to help more of our young people develop
the confidence and the belief that they can—in the words of Britain's Enterprise
Week campaign—"make their mark."
Of course, Global Entrepreneurship Week is not just about encouraging young
people to make their business ideas a reality; it also is about putting their
entrepreneurial spirit to work in helping to address the big challenges we face
around the world today. Poverty reduction, climate change, international
terrorism, the divisions between and within communities: all these are problems
that can only be solved if we mobilise all of the talent, inventiveness, and
inspiration at our disposal.
Kauffman Foundation CEO Carl Schramm, left, and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, right, announced plans for the first-ever Global Entrepreneurship Week at a kick-off event in London on Nov. 13, 2007. With them are aspiring UK entrepreneurs Michelle Esteves and Mitu Khandaker, who both participated in the Global Scholars Program.
Already, the successes and achievements of Global Entrepreneurship Week have
shown that if young people are given the chance they will respond—and one of the
most important and inspirational things about the thousands of entrepreneurs and
enterprising young people who are participating in the campaign is that they
have discovered a talent in themselves and acted upon it.
Talent is personal. It comes from each person's sense of what they can and
want to do—their attitude, flair, interests, and passions. But it can only truly
be realised if people have the aspirations to develop it—if they feel that they
have the chance to develop their potential to the full.
So I want to see us do everything we can to foster a global culture of
enterprise and innovation where every adult and young person feels that there is
an opportunity for them to go as far as their talents and hard work can take
them—where what counts is not where you come from and who you know, but what you
aspire to and have in yourself to become. Only by working together and forging
new connections and new initiatives like this can we truly begin to tap the
immense skill and entrepreneurial talent that exists in our countries and across
the world—talent that will benefit everyone in the years ahead.