The closing of so many businesses and loss of jobs brought on by COVID-19 is a wake-up call for those of us in a position to help. Recovering from a pandemic that created a common enemy for everyone on earth requires not just a global response but one from our most resilient citizens -- entrepreneurs.
We have good reason to look to our entrepreneurs for this role. As the doers, makers and risk takers of our societies, entrepreneurs are familiar with uncertain environments, well-equipped to rapidly re-think solutions in light of changing dynamics and data, and uniquely positioned to innovate our societies out of this pandemic.
It has been a year now since the pandemic unfolded. We are proud of our team at the Global Entrepreneurship Network who got right to work developing resource directories, finding means to provide emergency grants funded by philanthropies and quickly moving our programming to virtual platforms. We spotlighted startups as a prime vehicle for solving problems posed by the pandemic and built entrepreneurship campaigns in 181 countries, as well as competitions and hackathons that attracted more than 175,000 entrants from 200 nations.
A year later, we now look ahead to the equally serious work of rebooting our economies for a better, more sustainable and equitable post-pandemic world. Our national boundaries are as porous to new ideas as they are to a coronavirus, making it imperative for GEN to seize the opportunity to: reboot and help those most severely impacted by the economic downturn, rethink together as one global ecosystem and to regenerate lost jobs while helping all economies to rise on an incoming tide of entrepreneurial potential.
Below is our plan for the next 12+ months.
Our 2021 plan has begun with getting more emergency support to entrepreneurs – especially those from historically underrepresented communities – who are trying to weather the second half of the COVID-19 storm. Surveys have consistently shown this to be the top ask of businesses fighting to save jobs and pivot to the new normal. Along with our partner, Hello Alice, GEN is providing millions of dollars in small grants to entrepreneurs thanks to support from companies like eBay, KKR, Silicon Valley Bank, UBS, Verizon, BGE, and more.
With support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, U.S. Government and others, GEN has also begun to systematically implement a post-pandemic support strategy, offering entrepreneurial ecosystems and governments alike more ideas on how to align and build back stronger. We are:
- Listening to and learning from our partners and communities about their perspectives on the fundamental new mindsets needed for more resilient, inclusive and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems
- Articulating and systemizing new thinking supported by scholarship and authorship, such as, the release of Rebooted: An Uncommon Guide to Radical Success and Fairness in the New World of Life, Death, and Tech and more narratives about fresh ways of looking at things.
- Crowdsourcing – through GEN Policy’s Startup Nations community and the world’s leading multinational development agencies – smarter government action and policies to more urgently remove barriers to entrepreneurship concluding with a Startup Nations Summit for policymakers and staff and a global Ministerial with decision-makers in November.
- Translating more research and organizing key insights on how to support entrepreneurs within GEN Atlas, our knowledge portal.
Ideas alone are not enough, and GEN is also hard at work converting those ideas to opportunities by:
- Mentoring and coaching thousands of entrepreneurs from 200 countries through an Entrepreneurship World Cup competition designed to prepare startups for a post-COVID world.
- Expanding cross-border investing through a revitalized GEN Invest portfolio of initiatives to get the right capital in the right hands at the right time.
- Growing our startup community programs such as Startup Huddle and GEN Starters Club.
- Developing new industry verticals such as GEN Space and our community of astropreneurs.
- Building more on-line government e-registration and e-regulation platforms to remove administrative hurdles facing entrepreneurs in a more virtual post-pandemic world.
- Providing more virtual training and certification through our GEN Academy programs, to sharpen the skillsets of those starting companies and those mentoring or investing in them.
- Rolling out new GEN Campus venues that create scalable startup villages where entrepreneurs can learn, connect, collaborate and share knowledge and networks in ecosystems.
- Celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week through national public awareness campaigns made possible by agreements signed already with 178 nations to get more ordinary citizens to consider the path of entrepreneurship.
These parallel work streams - all under our Reboot, Rethink, Regenerate vision - will culminate with a game-changing, live Global Entrepreneurship Congress serving delegations from all nations, where GEN will unveil a blueprint guiding governments and others on how to reset our global entrepreneurial ecosystem. The gathering will provide peer-to-peer sessions for founders, forums for investors and ecosystem leaders, policy summits for ministers and hands-on program training and insights for all ecosystem stakeholders. Delegates will leave armed for 2022 with fresh insights, knowledge and networks in order to foster ecosystems that more sustainably and fairly accelerate economic growth and job creation through new firm formation.
Whether virtually or as your debut appearance back into the world of live events for knowledge-sharing and community-building, I hope you will join GEN’s Reboot, Rethink, Regenerate campaign to empower our most resilient citizens to help build back our communities and nations for all.