Entrepreneurship is quickly growing in Uzbekistan, as are the celebrations around entrepreneurs. Following its first GEW celebrations in 2017, Uzbekistan received the Rookie of the Year award at the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, Turkey. The award recognizes a new GEN community member, such as a Global Entrepreneurship Week host, with a significant dedication to the GEN mission. That is exactly what GEW Uzbekistan is doing, and why it was recognized.
Now in its second year, GEW in Uzbekistan is part of a larger state program of events. In fact, the prime minister of Uzbekistan endorsed the celebrations. This activity provided a boost in both the number of events and the number of attendees, and it signaled a support for entrepreneurship from ministers and state-level advisors. Many local companies and state bodies also served as major sponsors for GEW Uzbekistan.
During GEW 2018, I was invited to speak and moderate a session at the entrepreneurship ecosystem development discussion on November 13. The discussion included 200 stakeholders consisting of various ecosystem players, including startups and potential entrepreneurs. The discussion was carefully developed to promote conversation and partnerships among stakeholders while welcoming in new players. It also focused on the support from the global community. The objectives of the discussion included:
- Uniting all the players and participants of the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and to encourage partnerships and sharing;
- Encouraging entrepreneurship through education, information and support;
- Support for youth entrepreneurship as a factor for the economic development of Uzbekistan;
- Showcasing current and international practices and business development tools;
- Developing proposals and taking steps to support the development of business in Uzbekistan.
During the week, Uzbekistan had a total of 68 events with more than 5,500 participants. Some of the highlights of the week included sessions on women entrepreneurship and the gender gap as part of #GEWwomen theme; open dialogues between business executives and entrepreneurs; sessions on specific industries such as textile and blockchain; networking sessions; and tax information sessions. Ecosystem leaders from around the world attended GEW in Uzbekistan, including leaders from Armenia, China, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Israel, Korea, Russia and the United States. They presented insights that they gained from their local ecosystems, but that can be used as a best practices guide for stakeholders in Uzbekistan.
The hope of AMBIT – the official GEW host organization in Uzbekistan – is that this year’s celebrations yield fruitful negotiations between business and government authorities. Hikmat Abdurahmanov, the official GEW host in Uzbekistan, said the aim of GEW is “to put the ideas and suggestions from the gatherings into practice within Uzbekistan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”