White House Global Entrepreneurs Event.
I just returned from the Emerging Global Entrepreneurs Event in D.C. There were 75 entrepreneurs from around the world, government administrators, SharkTank sharks, a panel of investors and President Obama. The experience was spectacular. From the time we entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to being escorted to different rooms, and being among President Obama and the thought leaders in entrepreneurship was surreal.
There was an exciting energy in the room full of young bright men and women from different countries who all were doing something innovative that they were passionate about. I connected with many of the young entrepreneurs because we all had big dreams and wanted to share that with each other.
The event began with opening remarks from Rumana Ahmed,Global Engagement, National Security Council. She was the wonderfully delightful woman who communicated with us during the process until the event. As we waited and talked amongst ourselves, we were told Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and Daymond John from SharkTank would be coming soon and we would begin the panel of Sharks and five entrepreneurs.
After hearing the five pitches from the entrepreneurs, moderator Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, Small Business Administration began a Q&A with the Sharks. They each gave great advice to all of us: saying the best entrepreneurs still keep working even when everything isn’t going well. They keep believing in what they are doing and finding a way to succeed. The point of growing a business might be to make a lot of money, but the main reason for doing what you are doing is because you love it. You are passionate about it and will do everything in your power to make your business happen. If you want to change lives, improve a system or change an industry you must keep fighting. As each shark mentioned, that most of the time it is not about the great idea or business plan, it is the entrepreneur that is the key ingredient. They are the soul of the company. As I am a big fan of SharkTank, I was highly impressed by the Sharks and their inspiring words.
Soon afterwards, President Obama was going to be speaking next and as we anticipated his entrance, the room was almost silent. As he entered the room we all stood. I never thought that one day I would be in the same room as the President, much less hear him speak to us.
During his speech he spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship, especially for women and young entrepreneurs. Ideas and young businesses are the future of change. They understand the problems of today and feel that they can help solve our global issues with their solutions. By investing in entrepreneurs we are creating dreams and opening new jobs. We are bringing hope to many individuals around the world and creating a better future for the next generations. President Obama spoke about when a person does not see a path to success and no future for themselves they turn to conflict or violence. If we give people a view of their future and believe in their ideas and in them, we can make a big difference in many young lives.
After President Obama exited, the final panel included moderator Secretary Penny Pritzker, Dept. of Commerce ; Tony Elumelu, The Elumenu Foundation; Antonio Gracias, Valor Equity; and Julie Hanna, Kiva.
Each had insights into how we can make investing outside of hubs such as Silicon Valley and around the world easier. Being a woman entrepreneur, I connected with Julie Hanna. I deeply admired her manner and the way she spoke about her ideas. Her response to this issue was that especially in Silicon Valley it is a community of investors and companies that trust one another. They feel comfortable investing in high-risk and innovative ideas because of this community of trust. In many other areas in the U.S. and internationally that is not always the case. Crowdfunding has been a major player in helping this problem, but more should be done. As was mentioned by President Obama, this initiative should spark more communities of investors, entrepreneurs and resources not just in the U.S. but internationally.
With this Spark Initiative, we are allowing global entrepreneurs to find ways to work together to solve the problems of today and develop a new tomorrow together.
View the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=3764&v=IVJhWKajO40