15 Highlights from GEN for 2015
29 Dec 2015

The past 12 months have been very eventful for the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) – from the formal launch of GEN to the largest Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) celebration yet – and the network is looking forward to what’s next in 2016.

In the eight years since Global Entrepreneurship Week was created, a large (and still growing) network has emerged from the communities that celebrate each November. As we say goodbye to 2015, GEN is taking a look back at the top stories from this year and highlighting the amazing work its partners have helped accomplish.


  • Launch of GEN (and GEN countries).
    Global Entrepreneurship Network officially launched in early 2015, providing a year-round platform of programs and initiatives aimed at creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem. Beyond the global platform, GEN is also starting to roll out national operations to advance entrepreneurship – creating jobs, accelerating innovation and strengthening economic stability throughout the year.
  • GEW 2015 the biggest ever.
    Global Entrepreneurship Week continues to be the central rallying point of for GEN. With an estimated 30,000 events and 10 million participants in 160 countries, GEW 2015 was the largest yet. With national campaigns led by a diverse collection of host organizations – including a number from Endeavor, Youth Business International and JA Worldwide – GEW has more than doubled in size since it launched in 2008 with 77 countries. See the highlights from #GEW2015.
  • GEN recognizes first-ever Startup Nations Award winners.
    Each November, the Startup Nations Summit serves as the formal end to GEW while stimulating dialogue on policies and public sector programs that promote entrepreneurial growth. This year, GEN honored three startup policy champions: Mayor Bart De Wever of Antwerp, Belgium, received the Startup Nations Award for Local Policy Leadership; South Korean Science Minister Choi Yanghee was honored with the Startup Nations Award for National Policy Leadership; and Special Envoy for startups in the Netherlands, Neelie Kroes, received the Startup Nations Award for Groundbreaking Policy Thinking.
  • Jonathan Ortmans named co-chair of SPARK coalition.
    GEN President Jonathan Ortmans was named one of three co-chairs of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Spark initiative. The initiative aims to raise $1 billion in private investment to help emerging entrepreneurs by 2017. GEN is a founding sponsor of the initiative along with EO and the Tony Elumelu Foundation.
  • Startup Compete platform launches.
    During Global Entrepreneurship Week, GEN launched Startup Compete, a global networking site and startup competition platform for aspiring entrepreneurs, mentors and advisers. The system allows participants, administrators and judges to connect with each other, and bring potential startup ideas to market. Startup Compete simplifies startup competition management.
  • 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index maps global entrepreneurial ecosystem.
    GEN and the GEDI Institute recently released the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index, which ranks and maps the health of more than 130 countries’ entrepreneurial ecosystems. More than just a ranking, the Index serves as a tool for policymakers to help entrepreneurs in their countries. The Iranian Entrepreneurship Association used Index metrics  to identify bottlenecks in Iran and is currently working through a plan to address them.
  • First SME Ministerial launches at Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Milan.
    During the 2015 GEC in Milan, GEN and the U.S. Small Business Administration partnered to bring government officials together for the first SME Ministerial. U.S. SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, South Africa’s Minister of Small Business Development Lindiwe Zulu and others exchanged information and ideas on steps their governments are taking to help entrepreneurs flourish. 
  • Kauffman Foundation holds “One in a Million” competition during GEW USA.
    The Kauffman Foundation hosted the One in a Million competition in Kansas City to coach and showcase entrepreneurs who have presented at one of its 1 Million Cups events held each week in 77 communities throughout the U.S. The winner of the competition, bloom, defeated more than 370 participants to take home the $10,000 prize.
  • Global Entrepreneurship Research Network (GERN) extends ecosystem-mapping project.
    A network of organizations that fund and conduct entrepreneurship research, GERN expanded the scope of an ecosystem-mapping project that had been piloted in New York and Cairo, Egypt. The project will include 100 cities within the next five years – collecting data that will allow users to discover large-scale patterns characterizing entrepreneurship ecosystems and to identify particular actors – entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and others – within particular ecosystems.
  • Startup Nations Summit capstone of GEW celebrations.
    The 2015 Startup Nations Summit was held in Monterrey, Mexico, and in addition to the Startup Nations Awards, it featured a global startup competition, “The Pitch.” Startup Nations delegates discussed local and national entrepreneurship policy, and the event provided an opportunity for networking and sharing best practices.
  • Akon kicks off Youth + Women event in Nairobi, Kenya.
    Akon, the platinum-selling rap artist and record label creator, opened GEN’s Youth + Women event during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in July. The singer covered a lot of ground in his inspirational talk, including his cofounding Akon Lighting Africa – a project that aims to bring electricity to an estimated 600 million people across Africa.
  • Global Business Angels Network launches at GEC Milan.
    At the GEC Milan in March, GEN launched the Global Business Angels Network, and less than nine months later nearly 50 angel investing networks have become global members. See more on GBAN at gban.co.
  • GEN competition winners visit the White House.
    Dozens of competitions are held by GEN and its partners to identify promising young startups around the world. In May, the winners of Startup Open and Future Agro Challenge were invited to the White House to announce the launch of the Spark coalition, co-chaired by GEN’s Jonathan Ortmans. Ziv Lautman of BreezoMeter, the Israeli company that won the Startup Open, and Connor Burns of Bermuda Aerial Media, the grand prize winner from the Future Agro Challenge, travelled to Washington, D.C., for the event which also included Shark Tank judges Mark Cuban, Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran.
  • GEN supports women entrepreneurs through Women’s Venture Xchange-Africa (WVXA) initiative.
    Four women entrepreneurs from across Africa participated in a month-long mentorship and exchange program in Nairobi, Kenya. These women gained access to new regional markets, research and insights into best practices. GEN partnered with the Case Foundation, the Mara Foundation and the U.S. Small Business Administration to support the WVXA initiative.
  • CNBC spotlights GEN
    In November, CNBC published a story that talked about the explosion of programs to support entrepreneurs but the relative lack of growth of new and young firms. Embedded in that story is a slideshow of the top 20 ranked countries in the latest Global Entrepreneurship Index, a tool that policymakers can use to address such shortcomings. The article also pointed to a second slideshow that touted 20 of the world’s hottest startups of 2015 – a selection of finalists from GEN’s Startup Open. 

Mark Marich

Executive Vice President | Global Entrepreneurship Network

Mark Marich is the executive vice president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network where he provides strategic input and tactical direction for… More