President Obama Launches Spark Initiative To Raise $1Bn For Emerging Entrepreneurs

President Obama Launches Spark Initiative To Raise $1Bn For Emerging Entrepreneurs

Yesterday, as global entrepreneurs gathered for an event at the White House, President Obama announced several steps to increase support for emerging entrepreneurs here in the United States and around the world.  First, the President made investing in women and youth entrepreneurs the top priority for his Administration’s global entrepreneurship programs.  Second, ahead of his

Yesterday, as global entrepreneurs gathered for an event at the White House, President Obama announced several steps to increase support for emerging entrepreneurs here in the United States and around the world.  First, the President made investing in women and youth entrepreneurs the top priority for his Administration’s global entrepreneurship programs.  Second, ahead of his travel to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi this July, the President issued a call to action, challenging companies, organizations, and individuals to increase their investments in global emerging entrepreneurs.  Third, the President announced nine new Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, enlisting even more of America’s top talent to expand the frontiers of inspiration, opportunity, and development around the world.  Finally, he recognized the creation of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition, made up of leading entrepreneurship organizations who will support his call to action and better connect, coordinate, and communicate entrepreneurship efforts across the globe.

Increasing Global Support for Women and Young Entrepreneurs

The United States is making empowering women and youth a central objective of its global entrepreneurship programs.  Today, even as innovation and entrepreneurship spread rapidly around the world, there are many marginalized groups unable to realize their entrepreneurial aspirations.  Access to capital, training, and markets, as well as cultural and legal barriers continue to prevent millions from starting their own ventures.  For this reason, the President directed U.S. programs to increase efforts to attract investment for women and young entrepreneurs.  In 2014, the Administration set a goal for its global entrepreneurship programs, led under the umbrella of the U.S. government’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship Initiative, to generate over a billion dollars in private investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world by the end of 2017.  Half of this goal will be specifically for women and young entrepreneurs.

 

This increased emphasis builds on a strong foundation of programs that have pioneered new engagement with emerging entrepreneurs around the world in recent years.  Women and young entrepreneurs currently benefit from flagship exchanges offered by the President’s young leader initiatives in Africa, Southeast Asia, and now the Americas, as well as programs like the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, and Women Entrepreneurship in the Americas.  As a result of today’s announcement, the Administration will expand opportunities for women and young entrepreneurs in other U.S. Government global programs.

Call to Action

During today’s event, the President issued a call to action to companies, organizations, and individuals across the globe to increase their support to emerging entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, particularly in the run-up to this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi.  This support can come in the form of financial investment, mentorship, networking, education, and exchange programs.  By putting women and youth at the center of our efforts, the U.S. Government will bring entrepreneurship, innovation, and empowerment to underserved communities around the world.  Commitments can be made through www.state.gov/spark.  A report on the initial pledges put forward in response to the call to action will be presented at GES in Nairobi.  The summit will provide a platform for elevating and linking these commitments.  Two Spark Global Entrepreneurship events will take place on the road to Nairobi.  The first will be hosted by the U.S. Government in Madrid, Spain in mid-June and the second in Lagos, Nigeria in early July.  These international events will offer the opportunity to attract additional support for the President’s challenge.  Meanwhile, here at home, the President is focused on ensuring that those underrepresented in entrepreneurship across the United States are being tapped to fully contribute their talents, which is why later this summer there will be the first-ever White House Demo Day focused on inclusive entrepreneurship.

 

Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE)

Established by President Obama in 2014, the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) employ the skills, networks, and resources of top American entrepreneurs to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs at home and abroad.  Each PAGE member has developed a signature initiative, designed to make significant contributions to the U.S. Government’s goal of generating over $1 billion for emerging global entrepreneurs.  With the addition of the nine new PAGE members announced today, there are 17 active PAGE members.  The initial class of PAGE members supported entrepreneurship by creating new tools for entrepreneurs; speaking at major international gatherings such as the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the Mandela Washington Fellows summit; and joining Administration officials on travel advocating for improvements to the entrepreneurial ecosystem around the world.

 

The new members of PAGE are listed below:

Brian Chesky, Co-Founder & CEO, Airbnb (San Francisco, CA)

Antonio Gracias, CEO & Chief Investment Officer, Valor Equity (Chicago, IL)

Julie Hanna, Executive Chair of the Board, Kiva (San Francisco, CA)

Elizabeth Holmes, Founder and CEO, Theranos (Palo Alto, CA)

Daymond John, CEO of FUBU and Shark Branding (New York, NY)

Daniel Lubetzky, Founder & CEO, KIND Snacks (New York, NY)

Alison Rosenthal, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships Wealthfront, Inc. (Palo Alto, CA)

Debbie Sterling, CEO and Founder, GoldieBlox (San Francisco, CA)

Andrew Yang, Founder & CEO, Venture for America (New York, NY)

 

Spark Global Entrepreneurship Coalition

After the U.S. Government launched its Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative last November, leading entrepreneurship organizations came together to form an umbrella coalition.  The aim of the Spark Global Entrepreneurship Coalition is to connect, coordinate, and create common goals across public, private, and non-profit sector efforts to advance entrepreneurship around the world. The coalition will help to advance the efforts of the U.S. Government’s Spark Global Entrepreneurship Initiative to invest in emerging entrepreneurs by linking participants from those programs with resources, networks, and opportunities.  One of their first activities will be to work with the U.S. Department of State on coordinating partnerships for this summer’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya.

 

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