The 16th annual Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign, celebrating and empowering entrepreneurs everywhere, is officially underway. Millions of people have attended thousands of activities in their communities and cities to celebrate the power of entrepreneurship and innovation in advancing economic growth and job creation.
With four more days to go, highlights over the past two days include:
In Nigeria, Founders nationwide joined their peers and walked to honour the values of entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, which took place in multiple cities, including Lagos, Calabar, Oshogbo, Benin, Enugu, Araba, Warri, Sokoto, Kibbe, Katsina, Zamfara, Abuja, Kaduna and Ilorin.
In the US, $300 000 (R5.7 million) was awarded to 30 small businesses. FedEx, GEN and Hello Alice announced the 30 grant recipients of the FedEx® Entrepreneur Fund, an initiative that provides $10 000 in grants to selected small businesses owned by military-connected entrepreneurs and people with disabilities in the US.
Thanks to an additional $100000 investment by FedEx this year, Hello Alice will further support grant recipients’ growth through the FedEx Boost Camp, which is a new six-month growth experience.
The dedicated programme space will be home to monthly business coaching workshops, mentorship, networking, and more resources personalised for the grant winners. Several activities are taking place in Kansas City, Silicon Valley, Indiana State and many parts of the US.
In China, the GEN President and GEW co-founder, Jonathan Ortmans, opened their Global Entrepreneurship Week with a keynote speech at the Yangtze River Delta Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summit in Shanghai.
In his speech, he said, “Entrepreneurship thrives in China because entrepreneurial activity has deep roots in China and has surged over the past twenty years. Beginning with the hundreds of millions of getihu owners, who sought to scratch out their own living, through the “sea turtles” acquiring skills and education abroad and planting successful new businesses back at home, and now with business-savvy home-grown entrepreneurs, cities across China have rapidly become an entrepreneurial hotbed.
“This phenomenal rise did not happen by chance. Governments set the rules and incentives in all nations and it is the result of your government's unwavering commitment to technological development and innovation, coupled with a surge in venture capital investment. This potent combination has fostered a nurturing environment for startups, transforming many cities into bustling hubs of entrepreneurial activity. Proof that entrepreneurship thrives in China is also borne out in the data. Patent applications for Chinese inventions soared to 1.58 million in 2022 – more than the US, Japan, Republic of Korea and Germany combined.
“Chinese researchers are the 2nd most cited in international scientific journals with annual growth outpacing that of the US. And China also has a stunning lead in 37 of 44 critical and emerging technologies including synthetic biology, electric batteries, 5G and Nano manufacturing, AI, machine learning, advanced robotics, and quantum communications,” Ortmans said.
In South Africa, the Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, is leading various activities with its agency, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda), across various provinces, including the launching of new incubators and organizing pitches for entrepreneurs. The department will also host the annual Presidential SMME awards, where South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will award various prizes to the SMME winners.
22 On Sloane and African Bank, hosted a 48-hour Global Entrepreneurship Week Hackathon focused on Fintech, where three winners walked away with prize money with the overall winner on the day building an Artificial Intelligence digital financial literacy AR/VR platform, which acts as a financial advisor available 24/7. It also offers financial literacy across investments, savings, loans to better financial behaviours and spending habits.
During the Hackathon, the Kgalema Motlanthe foundation invited Grade 11 high school students that are beneficiaries of the Kgalema Motlanthe foundation to participate in the Hackathon. The former president Kgalema Motlanthe and former first lady, Gugu Motlanthe, engaged participants on their various solutions.
Still in South Africa, the Telkom Futuremakers celebrated and rewarded various entrepreneurs in its programmes. Led by the CEO of Telkom and the CEO of BCX, they congratulated innovative entrepreneurs that are building innovative solutions to solve pressing challenges faced by the world and businesses. Some of the winners are already incorporated in Telkom’s supply chains.
Cape Town, South Africa has also seen an influx of various technology companies and stakeholders this week attending the Africa Tech festival during this Global Entrepreneurship Week.
In the UK, the government announced a £7 million (R158m) investment in a new Northern Ireland Enterprise Support Service called ‘Go Succeed’. It will provide a holistic approach to government support services with a greater focus on providing tailored service to suit individual needs in a bid to foster enterprises across the region.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Small Business Minister Rechie Valdez, all celebrated the contributions of founders and small businesses to an inclusive economy.
Trudeau said, “Today, we mark the beginning of Global Entrepreneurship Week, a time to celebrate entrepreneurs’ creativity, drive and innovation, here in Canada and around the world. We are working to remove barriers so that entrepreneurship can continue to thrive. With the support we provide to organisations, such as Futurpreneur Canada, and federal initiatives including the Black Entrepreneurship Programme, the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Programme, and the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Programme, we are working to ensure that under-represented groups have equitable access to the opportunities and resources they need to succeed in business.
“In October, we announced $2.7 million in funding to the École des entrepreneurs du Québec FAIR·E project to help provide learning programmes to support women entrepreneurs. We recently committed up to $25 million through Canada’s Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative to help advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Canadian venture capital ecosystem, enhancing access to capital for diverse fund managers and entrepreneurs to help businesses scale and grow.
“As Canada continues to welcome talent from around the world, we announced over $3 million in funding for the Toronto Business Development Centre to support 100 newcomer entrepreneurs and create 200 jobs in Ontario. This week, we recommit ourselves to supporting a flourishing entrepreneurial culture in Canada and working to ensure that everyone, no matter their background, has a chance to realize their vision. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I thank all entrepreneurs for the role they play in building a better and more prosperous future for everyone,” Trudeau said.
From Botswana, Kenya, Chad and Ghana, to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bangladesh and India, to Spain and Germany, more than 30,000 activities are taking place in 200 countries where more than 10 million people are celebrating the power of entrepreneurship.
Countries thrive only when entrepreneurs thrive, bearing in mind just how much they contribute to their country’s gross domestic product and job creation. So, we have to continue advancing focused support for small businesses and startups to start and scale successfully.
Kizito Okechukwu is the Executive Head of 22 On Sloane, Africa’s largest startup campus; co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa.