Global Entrepreneurship Network: Encouraging Many Flowers to Bloom


What started as an annual celebration of entrepreneurship has evolved into the Global Entrepreneurship Network, with year-round work to create cross-border collaboration amongst entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations in 170 countries.

In this new Kauffman Sketchbook, Global Entrepreneurship Network founder Jonathan Ortmans explains how GEN strives to facilitate making entrepreneurship an opportunity to people around the world. GEN accomplishes this through a number of initiatives, including the first Global Entrepreneurship Network Startup Campus in Johannesburg, South Africa.


I'm Jonathan Ortmans, president and founder of Global Entrepreneurship Network.

What we're about is creating an opportunity for anybody anywhere to unleash their idea.

We want to make sure that the guy that's got the worst deal on the planet has an opportunity.

At the Global Entrepreneurship Network, we've built one global entrepreneurship ecosystem that allows anyone on the planet to be able to connect, understand, support, and celebrate the entrepreneurs that represent so much promise for our future.

We went in with the belief that we could create a common culture across the globe in the interest of entrepreneurship and innovation.

We learned a lot of techniques and tools about ultimately: How do you build a community that's across the world? How do you cross national boundaries, and cultures, and religions, and languages?

We discovered something that was common in all people. They have this enthusiasm and curiosity about making the world a better place.

We tried to provide some structure, but allow a lot of flowers to be blooming the way they wanted to.

We have divided our work into four primary cornerstones.

We want to be able to connect everybody across any aspects of an entrepreneurial ecosystem to find peers, find markets, and find opportunities. Secondly, we want to understand the field better. We want to elevate the field based on research and data. And then thirdly, we're working carefully to provide the best support programs we can find. The last part is: we like to celebrate. It's where we began with Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is the notion of making the role of the entrepreneur be perceived around the world as being a force for good, as being the individuals who are able to create new value in our societies, and can set an example for all of our citizens in the way we go about living our lives.

Entrepreneurs are the great equalizers. They bring the ability of anybody to be able to have the opportunity no matter where they come from in the world.

That promise of entrepreneurship is always what's empowered our community.

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