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Marianne Abib-Pech

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World Entrepreneurship Forum - A Catalyst For a Better World?

Posted: 11/11/11 11:41

While the economic world and media are focused on the European mayhem, no one is looking at an oozing-with-confidence Asia.

While everyone is agonising and - it has to be said - speculating over the burning question of the future of the European Union, the resolution to Greece's debt crisis or even Berlusconi's fight with the Italian parliament...well, we know how that one ended this week. Arrivederci Silvio! Simultaneously, though, 120 high-energy, high-powered individuals on the other side of the world were working to change and, I believe, save the economy. While politicians endlessly debated the best course of action for solving the European and world disarray, 120 individuals stood up and started on it.

The fourth World Entrepreneurship Forum ended last Saturday in Singapore. Designed to discover what is needed to re-kindle, empower and sustain entrepreneurial spirits across the globe, it is a completely unique event.

Over three intense days, the Singapore Shangri La Hotel's conference rooms, break rooms and coffee lounges saw an incredible buzz of energy and enthusiasm...far away from the doom and gloom of the European Union.

The corridors were humming with words such as action, commitment, tangibility, global impact, social impact, in stark opposition to the all talk, no action politicians.

To put it bluntly, for every entrepreneur, three to five jobs are created - the Holy Grail for every economy.

More importantly, every entrepreneur is a new model to inspire youth potentially lost and scared about their futures. Reading Dear Lucy's answer to a distressed mother wondering "how do I help my job seeking daughter" in the 9 November Financial Times, I could not help but think: entrepreneurship is the future.

Yes, there is entrepreneurship rooted in necessity - as practiced by Ning Li, founder of Made.com, the fastest growing on-line private furniture maker. But I also mean entrepreneurship founded on real market opportunities, as highlighted at the Forum by Nigerian entrepreneur Ini Oruk, founder of Thistle Praxis, a consulting company specialised in developing Social Performance & CSR frameworks for African corporations. We will need to consider potential social reforms, or fiscal reform, or even cultural change to make it happen. We'll need to reflect on vocational education, national frontiers and to re-invent ourselves. These were my key takeways from the World Entrepreneurship Forum.

Beyond practical policy and business advice, however, what resonated for me at the Forum was the human element. The sense of a global community learning and sharing with each other. A community committed to acting and working together to achieve a sustainable economy.

What was impressive was the sense of commitment towards the future and future generations, rooted in actions and mutual future commitments.

What was innovative was reconciling wealth with social justice. As Guillaume Gauthereau, founder of Totsy.com, elegantly put it: "It is time to recalibrate richness and build an ethical and balanced society, to pair money and wealth with values and an ability to make this world a better place."

What was inspiring was listening to Geneviève Morand from Rezonance speaking passionately about "receptivity and transmission about building business on networks, value and mutual aid."

I think this is what was truly innovative and enlightening about the Forum. Perhaps the call for change is not about entrepreneurship and action, but is instead more profound.

Maybe the true call for change is to move away from a process and money-oriented world towards a purpose-driven world, one with human values and more social equality. Could entrepreneurship act as a catalyst? A vast question yet to be explored.

As of today, I would like to say thank you to the founders of the World Entrepreneurship Forum - the Ecole de Management de Lyon, KPMG, and Nanyang Technological University, for their courage and their vision. Most importantly, thank you to the 120 individuals that left their own ventures for four days, showed up and made a stand.

 

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