World Entrepreneurship Summit 08 â€“ A Success
posted on Friday, February 01, 2008 09:08 AM
The recent World Entrepreneurship Summit which was held in London at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in Westminster was a hugely successful and satisfying event for practitioners, researchers and entrepreneurial enthusiasts alike, from all around the world. The theme of the Conference was ‘Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Economic Development’ and this featured a variety of presentations, panel discussions, think tanks and work groups on the use of conscious enterprise in providing solutions to many of the world’s predominant problems.
A central concept that dominated the proceedings was the application of new and innovative methodologies to support elevation from poverty situations through empowerment of the people, such as by means of providing microcredit facilities and small loans to facilitate the startup of small individual businesses and consequently permitting people to move to self-sustainability rather than dependency situations over time. A considerable amount of evidence has been collected to demonstrate the effectiveness of these policies and procedures in stimulating entrepreneurship, particularly in depressed environments.
The patron in absentia of the gathering was Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner, who pioneered the application of microcredit banking in Bangladesh, to an overwhelming success rate, not only resulting in high returns for individuals, but also for the banking institution, the Grameen Bank. His success was based solely on giving poor people the power to help themselves, and has been commended by prominent world leaders, including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, for its value in offering security to people, ‘in its most fundamental form’.
The concept of social enterprise, though new, is being seen as the key mechanism to encourage social development and ensure that people and the environment they live in, do not suffer as a result of the pursuit of capitalism. It is seen as a means to bridge the gap between poverty and extreme wealth which is prevalent across the globe, as well as key to attempting to fix the problems associated with environmental degradation owing to abuse of consumerism over time, now clearly evidenced by the effects of global warming as well as human rights abuses in some locations.
The conference is the first to raise the point that finding ways to ‘fix’ the world’s problems will have to come out of the creative thinkers in our midst, namely the entrepreneurs and innovators, and to emphasise the challenge this group has been presented with to bring their contributions to the world, the first of which is generally financing. Efforts were made to bring these generally ‘opposing’ factions to the same place, to begin the process of dialogue and to find a common language that would ensure the interests of all parties can be looked after at the same time. If for nothing else, then WES08 served to create a community of interest on the topic and should be highly commended for the initiative.
Of note were presentations by Kevin Spacey of American ‘Hollywood’ fame, who acted on this occasion in the role of champion for the cause of social entrepreneurship, this time specifically in the support of the Arts towards enhanced human social and cultural development.
In his very humble but effective presentation, Spacey highlighted the importance of consciously establishing businesses which bring value to the lives of people and that can serve as positive influences, especially to the youth and to the poor. He cited the analogy ‘All of us can send the elevator back down.’ His own efforts in social enterprise are reflected in the re-development of the Old Vic Theatre in London and its outward re-integration into its community, with tremendous success and obvious personal satisfaction for Mr. Spacey.
In all, the inaugural World Entrepreneurship Summit set the high bar for future Entrepreneurship conferences everywhere, owing to its highly relevant and specific content, the high quality participation, depth of discussion and general unity of purpose that it presented. We look forward to the WES Africa Conference scheduled for October in Abuja and the other upcoming seminars in the WES Series.
A special commendation must be given to Dr. Rebecca Harding, the brain child and innovator behind WES08, for her forward-thinking vision and solution-driven approach to solving economic problems to the benefit of all. We wish Rebecca and the Delta Forum the best in its continued forward momentum in this significant field.
Sherrilene M. Collymore
Human Quality Headquarters www.hq-2.com