"An entrepreneur," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "is anyone with the imagination to conceive of a new product, process, or service, and the ability and persistence to turn that idea into something real." Ideally, this process should be possible anywhere in the world. Yet too often, people cannot follow where their imagination leads them because they don't have the financial means or the skills to get started. As a result, good ideas go nowhere.
In an effort to change that, the United States held the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. At the summit, the United States announced several initiatives to help develop the business climate in Muslim majority countries, including the Global Entrepreneurship Program. Under this initiative, the U.S. will help sponsor business plan competitions to identify and support promising ideas and will work to expand access to capital so entrepreneurs can get credit. In addition, the initiative includes mentoring programs to provide the benefit of experience to those just beginning their businesses. The first pilot program will be in Egypt, with a second program soon to follow in Indonesia.
The U.S. has also established partnerships with two Silicon Valley-based organizations: the Global Technology and Innovation Partners, and the Innovators Fund. Both were started by U.S. venture capitalists and business leaders inspired to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Muslim majority countries. These partnerships have been launched in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Malaysia and will increase entrepreneurs' access in those countries to seed funding, venture capital, technology, and business expertise.
In an effort to further expand access to mentors for aspiring businessmen, the U.S. has started the e-Mentor Corps. It is an on-line service that assists individuals in seeking out mentors with expertise on everything from securing financing to writing a business plan.
This is just the first wave of initiatives aimed at promoting global entrepreneurship. These programs are a reflection of America's commitment to development based on investment, not aid.