With the COVID-19 pandemic still presenting a major public health challenge throughout the United States, more than 500 partner organizations across all 50 states held more than 2,000 events and activities as part of a Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign to encourage and support entrepreneurs at a time when they need it most.
The campaign, completing its 13th year, reaches beyond traditional startup hubs high-tech startup hubs like Silicon Valley, London and Shanghai – envisioning one entrepreneurial ecosystem open to all, including smaller cities in emerging economies and under-represented communities.
In every year before 2020, GEW connected entrepreneurs at all levels – including those who were merely just curious about what it would take unleash their ideas – with potential collaborators, mentors and even investors, mostly through live, face-to-face events and competitions.
In 2020, of course, a large majority of those activities were held virtually.
Richard Branson Offers Hope + Encouragement for GEW 2020
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group with roughly 400 companies and a long-time supporter of Global Entrepreneurship Week, filmed a message of hope and encouragement for entrepreneurs at all levels and shared it with millions on the eve of #GEW2020.
With so many entrepreneurs struggling in 2020 due to an economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Branson urged:
"Everyone has the potential to become an entrepreneur and to create positive change in their communities," he said. "I am proud to support the Global Entrepreneurship Network... with a mission to make it possible for anyone, anywhere to start or scale a new business."
Pitbull, Elle Macpherson on Empowering Entrepreneurs
Armando Christian Perez, aka Pitbull, the Grammy-winning-rapper, and Elle Macpherson, supermodel-turned-entrepreneur and founder of WelleCo, joined Jeff Hoffman, chairman of the board of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, for a session on uplifting aspiring entrepreneurs – particularly those from underrepresented groups. The virtual discussion, hosted by GEN and Babson College, focused on their experiences, advice for young entrepreneurs and the importance of mentorship, community and values in business.
"Empowering the youth of tomorrow to solve the problems created by the systems of today revolves around giving them the sort of freedom to think openly," said Macpherson. "You have to have the courage to lead and to explore new possibilities and new ideas; and then you have to develop that courage within yourself."
"Entrepreneurship is a mindset, and it's a lifestyle of understanding that failure is the mother of all success," said Pérez. "Mistakes need to happen in order for you to grow, in order for you to learn, in order for you to help others. The biggest risk you take is not taking one."
Town Hall Series on Inclusion + Entrepreneurship
During Global Entrepreneurship Week, the NAACP, Bunker Labs and Latino Business Action Network joined forces with GEN and Hello Alice on a series of town halls that focused on the state of entrepreneurship with three under-represented groups who face unique challenges in starting a new business – Black entrepreneurs, military veterans and Latinx entrepreneurs, respectively.
- The State of Black Entrepreneurship
- The State of Latinx Entrepreneurship
- The State of Military Entrepreneurship
Nasdaq Puts Global Entrepreneurship Week in Lights in Times Square
The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center launched Mentor Makers, a new program to deliver 1 million mentor hours by 50,000 mentors to at least 50,000 businesses by December 2021. The session featured Jason Feifer, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine, in conversation with 2-time Emmy Award winner and entrepreneur Mario Armstrong and others. To mark the launch, Nasdaq lit up its digital tower in Times Square in the heart of New York City.
large majority of Global Entrepreneurship Week activities were held virtually this year. Never daunted, hundreds of partner organizations stepped up and hosted GEW 2020 activities — many of them holding multiple activities throughout the week (see the article below about Texas sweeping the leaderboard). Against this extensive and vibrant backdrop, there were dozens of highlights — below are just a few.
Mark Cuban Headlines Virtual Texas Startups Roadshow during GEW
The Texas Startups Roadshow takes local entrepreneurs and out-of-state investors on a virtual ride that spotlights the startup community in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Anchoring the Dallas leg of the trip during Global Entrepreneurship Week was the UT Dallas Big Idea Competition and a keynote from Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, serial entrepreneur and investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.
Texas Sweeps GEW USA Leaderboard
The U.S. campaign was supported by a network of 128 volunteer organizers at either a state or community level – recruiting local organizations to host activities of all shapes and sizes while amplifying awareness and engaging opinion leaders. The most active U.S. state, city and partner organization during Global Entrepreneurship Week have one thing in common — Texas. The Lone Star State was the most active U.S. state/territory with 159 registered activities on the GEW USA website during the week. It was followed by Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Florida. More than half of the events in Texas were held in Fort Worth (84), the most active U.S. city, with San Juan (Puerto Rico), Houston, Kansas City and University Park (PA) rounding out the top five. Impact Hub Houston was the most active partner, hosting 55 activities during GEW, followed by Penn State University with 48.
GEN, Hello Alice, KKR Announce $5M Grant Program for Entrepreneurs
GEN, Hello Alice and KKR, a global investment firm, hosted Helping Entrepreneurs Build Back, a session that took a closer look at a program, KKR Small Business Builders, that provides $5 million in grants, access to capital, technical expertise and a network of support designed to help business owners respond to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and recover from its resultant economic dislocation.
U.S. Government Engagement Encourages Entrepreneurs
A range of U.S. government officials and entities declared their support for entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, including:
- U.S. Under-secretary of State for Economic Growth Keith Krach
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- U.S. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland
- Washington Governor Jay Inslee
- Idaho Governor Brad Little
- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Congressman Steve Womack, Congressman French Hill
- Hawaii Governor David Ige
- Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted
- Mayor Alonzo Jones of Danville, VA
While the GEW 2020 celebration is now in the rearview mirror, plans are already underway for Global Entrepreneurship Week next November. The dates for GEW 2021 are November 8-14. More information is available at gew.co.