The United States continues to find new ways to support global entrepreneurship. “At a time when the world is more interconnected than ever,” said President Barack Obama, “we’ve got unprecedented opportunities to help more people access capital and resources and networks that they need to succeed.”
Youth around the world are particularly in need of greater opportunities. More than half the world’s population is under the age of thirty, and in some countries youth unemployment can exceed 35 percent. When so many young people don’t see a future for themselves, it holds an entire nation back.
That’s why the United States seeks to train and empower thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs. As part of its Young African Leaders Initiative, the U.S. offers training and grants and online resources and courses, and leadership centers to help young entrepreneurs build businesses in Africa.
In South East Asia, the U.S. has connected young people across the ASEAN countries through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative. The U.S. has also launched an initiative for young entrepreneurs in the Caribbean and Latin America.
All told, the U.S. has set a goal of generating $1 billion in new investment for emerging entrepreneurs worldwide by 2017. Half of this money will go to support young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs. The program, known as the Spark Global Entrepreneurship Initiative will bring together some of the most successful entrepreneurship programs across the government and make sure that they're working with the private sector in ways that allow for long-term, sustained success.
Some of America’s most successful business leaders and innovators are joining this effort. One of those is Julie Hanna who will use her expertise leading Kiva to increase access to capital around the world. Her project commits to delivering $100 million in crowdfunded loans to 200,000 women and young entrepreneurs across 86 different countries.
With the Spark Global Entrepreneurship Initiative, said President Obama, “we can help make sure that anyone who’s got the creativity and drive to work hard, no matter where they’re from, what they look like, what their background is, they get a fair shot at pursuing their dreams. And we’ll all be better for it.