The United States strongly supports entrepreneurship at home and abroad as a means to create not only prosperity but peace and stability.
Speaking at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “Economic policy is foreign policy and foreign policy is economic policy, particularly in the globalized world we’re living in today.”
Secretary Kerry encouraged young people in particular to create new businesses, even if they started small. He urged young business owners to not only create new products and turn a profit but as innovators and entrepreneurs with a stake in society to also take on some of the societal challenges facing many countries.
One of those challenges is violent extremism and the emergence of radical non-state actors who are out to exploit frustrations faced by many young people around the world. Indeed, in the Middle East, Africa, South-Central and East Asia, 60 to 65 percent of the populations are under the age of 30. These young people, said Secretary Kerry, need education and opportunity as soon as possible to keep them from being lured away by extremists ideologies. Successful new businesses provide inspiration to those who see no potential for improving their own circumstances.
Speaking to young entrepreneurs, Secretary Kerry said, “You also provide a highly visible and very effective rebuttal to the propaganda of violent extremist groups. Because your optimism provides an alternative to their nihilism. Because you’re trying to build the brighter future that in fact these folks are determined to prevent. Because you are living a narrative of modern civilization and progress that is diametrically opposed to the dark worldview of Daesh.”
Another challenge for young entrepreneurs to take on is corruption. Anyone in local or international business confronts this issue every day in a variety of ways. For entrepreneurs poor governance can mean the difference between being able to start up and survive or never getting started at all. And there are countless ways that new entrepreneurs can help hold governments accountable. As Secretary Kerry emphasized, “You want to be able to open your enterprises without having to pay a bribe or be dependent on making friends in high places.”
Being a global entrepreneur is about understanding and then using one’s power to change the world. It’s about leading the world toward a future of prosperity, peace and progress.