Regenerating Our Entrepreneurial Spirit
6 Apr 2020

Amidst all the pain, fear and suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been uplifting to see so much of humanity at its best. Here at GEN, we have been taught a thing or two about the power of grassroots communities and their impact from the bottom up in solving problems – together. Our teams around the world have been flooded with ideas, resources and initiatives – all built on the notion of helping one another get through a common global challenge.

Over the past few weeks at GEN, we have been committed to our employees, operational sustainability, assessing where we can be of most help and then – getting to work. Below is a look at some of our initial actions and initiatives we are driving or backing.Jeff Hoffman's 3 Rs

  • GEN: Supporting Our Global Ecosystem Builders
    GEN is made up of countless individuals and organizations busy supporting entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders in their communities and in their countries – all of whom are facing this same pandemic. Our first priority is to support their well-being and ensure that they are ready to lead the biggest entrepreneurial rebound in history when this is all over. This very large task is made up of a number of small efforts. Through GEN Accelerates, we are providing access to free virtual resources and training to entrepreneurs through the Entrepreneurship World Cup and more. We suspended live, face-to-face Startup Huddle events and are moving to virtual gatherings to crowdsource solutions for local entrepreneurs. We are devising toolkits to help our national Global Entrepreneurship Week campaigns increase virtual engagement in November. We are gathering best practices on government efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on startups and scale-ups from our Startup Nations policymaker network, in preparation for the Startup Nations Ministerial occurring this October in partnership with the G20. We are tracking recommendations from our Global Business Angel Network members on what early stage investors need at this time. Our Board Chair, Jeff Hoffman, has been making the rounds on business media to provide tips for small business owners -- to Repurpose, Retool and Redeploy (see image on the right). And while GEN is experienced at largely operating virtually, we are using the time to examine our processes – streamlining efforts to work smarter at current staffing levels while increasing our impact around the world.
  • Alice: COVID-19 Business Resource Center
    GEN is proud to partner with Alice machine learning technology to help business owners find their path by matching them to personalized opportunities and resources through a COVID-19 Business Resource Center. On the portal, businesses can access financial grants and loans, peer to peer support, resources specific to where they live from state and federal agencies, and guides on pivoting a small business, transitioning to sell online, and more during this challenging time.
  • Beyond Silicon Valley: Supporting Entrepreneurship in a Global Crisis
    Building off of GEN’s previous support of Case Western University’s massive open online course (MOOC) taken by more than 175,000 students from 190 countries, Beyond Silicon Valley: Supporting Entrepreneurship in a Global Crisis has been updated to offer new content to guide and inspire entrepreneurs during challenging economic times ahead. The course addresses how startups can survive during this crisis by drawing on resources from governments, universities, foundations and nonprofit organizations. The course features weekly live discussions with thought leaders.
  • Builders + Backers: Be A Neighbor
    GEN board member Donna Harris has launched the Be A Neighbor campaign to identify communities and individuals in need and to mobilize volunteers in response. Leveraging her Builders + Backers movement and the VOMO platform, the campaign will reach 100,000 volunteers and thousands of non-profits. GEN is supporting the movement alongside the American Red Cross, United Way and dozens of other organizations.
  • Hack the Crisis + The Global Hack
    GEN is proud to support the #hackthecrisis volunteer movement, with its roots in Estonia, and The Global Hack on April 9-12. The hackathon will crowdsource and test ideas at massive scale to confront the COVID-19 crisis. With GEN’s Board Chair, Jeff Hoffman, serving as one of the hack’s “inspiration leads” and other GEN members (like Mikk Vainik) directly involved, more than 200,000 idea holders and hackers have gotten involved in 40 countries in the space of a few weeks. Participants in The Global Hack will form virtual teams, sans borders, to share and test their ideas by building working prototypes in 48 hours.
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
    GEN is also advancing the work of the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – led by Tom Sullivan, Vice President for Small Business Policy and a member of the GEN Board of Directors – around Combating the Coronavirus. The Chamber is working closely with the White House, U.S. government agencies, and foreign government officials to inform and equip businesses with the most important and up-to-date information to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the near and long-term impact.

We all have a role to play – in staying safe, staying virtually connected and staying ready to rebound and thrive. Join GEN and stand with us in helping meet this challenge in the weeks and months ahead.

Jonathan Ortmans

President | Global Entrepreneurship Network

Jonathan Ortmans is founder and president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), an organization that provides a platform of programs and… More