CELEBRATE | November 19, 2019

Arkansas Nurtures Entrepreneurship at Home and Abroad

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By Andrew Moreau

The Venture Center of Little Rock is promoting entrepreneurship in Vietnam as part of a global celebration recognizing startup businesses.

Mimi San Pedro, chief strategy officer at the Venture Center, is part of a U.S. delegation focused on supporting Vietnam's entrepreneurial ecosystem through a mentorship tour. San Pedro will be in the country through Friday, providing training for young people, early-stage entrepreneurs and lecturers who specialize in marketing.

San Pedro is working with the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative, which is the U.S. government's signature program to strengthen leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

In Vietnam, San Pedro also will meet with Xuan Do, who previously visited Little Rock as part of a U.S. State Department program. Xuan Do is helping build a business incubator in Vietnam, a project that included on-site mentorship from the Little Rock Venture Center.

"While the push for economic development and sustainability starts at home, working in Vietnam during this trip shows that we can make a substantial change anywhere in the world," San Pedro said.

Back at home, the University of Arkansas is starting a new entrepreneurial support center just in time to participate in Global Entrepreneurship Week, which involves 10 million participants and 35,000 events in 170 countries.

There will be dozens of events across Arkansas to promote entrepreneurship during the special week, which ends Nov. 24. Arkansas entrepreneurs, and those interested in starting their own businesses, will have opportunities to participate in events and learn more about running a business and the support organizations available to help.

Entrepreneurs, economic developers, educators and innovators this week will celebrate the benefits and importance of entrepreneurship. Events in Arkansas will include workshops, speaker series, networking events and pitch competitions.

In Fayetteville, the university's Startup Village will hold an open house on Wednesday to show off its space, which includes about 2,750 square feet on the lower floor of the Hancock Building at 240 N. Block St.

The village will provide seed-stage entrepreneurial teams with reservable office space, a conference room, kitchen, storage rooms and mailboxes. Offices can accommodate between seven and 12 startups. There is no cost for the space during the pilot period. The university plans to develop a shared service model, depending on the state of the business.

In Conway, the Conductor is expanding its efforts during the week to include programs across Arkansas, including Cabot and Russellville. The Conductor is a partnership with the University of Arkansas and Startup Junkie to spark innovation and new business development.

The Conductor and Startup Junkie have ambitious plans. "Our vision is to enable and empower 100 $10 million dollar companies over the next five years," Jeff Standridge, Conductor managing director, told a panel in Cabot last week.

Conductor programs include procurement assistance, mentoring advice, minority-business support, insight into building an entrepreneurial ecosystem and expertise on how to scale your business. More information is available at arconductor.org.

Entrepreneurs of the world, unite.

*This article was originally posted on Arkansas Democrat Gazette

Ellen is the Director for U.S. Ecosystems with the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Her primary responsibilities include supporting the… About the author