The Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) is a U.S. State Department-led effort to promote and spur entrepreneurship around the world. Announced at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in April 2010, the GEP highlights the Obama Administration’s commitment to use America’s entrepreneurial culture to advance entrepreneurship in emerging markets and developing countries. The program functions as an interagency team, which includes USAID, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others, and is led by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Economic Affairs/Office of Commercial and Business Affairs.
Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
The GEP represents a vital public-private partnership that achieves its objectives by catalyzing and coordinating non-governmental partners around six categories of activity, which are considered essential to creating an integrated, holistic entrepreneurial ecosystem.
These six areas include: Identifying promising entrepreneurs, training them, connecting and sustaining entrepreneurs, increasing funding for emerging enterprises, enabling supportive policy, and celebrating their successes. By establishing a supportive ecosystem, entrepreneurs are given the opportunity to create jobs and vastly improve the economic conditions of their country.
Working With Partners
Recognizing that no-tech and low-tech sectors (e.g., agribusiness, furniture and textiles) often represent the largest industries in developing countries, GEP seeks partners and entrepreneurs from across the business and technology spectrum. U.S. and in-country partners come from five categories of organizations: NGOs, corporations, foundations, educational institutions and investors. Virtually all GEP partners are already active in entrepreneurship promotion activities. In an effort to develop entrepreneurship ecosystems, GEP partner organizations are asked to add to their current activities. They can expand current programs to a new country or deepen existing programs in current countries of operation.
To fill programmatic gaps in entrepreneurship promotion, GEP also works with partners to create new programs. A few illustrative examples of specific GEP programs include: Expanding Angel Networks to developing countries; developing an “Entrepreneur Bridge” to structure incubators and accelerators, helping bring innovation from lab to Main Street; and, expanding E- Mentor Corps, a web-based platform that matches mentors and emerging entrepreneurs (for more information, see Programs).
The GEP was initially launched to support the objectives of President Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech calling for greater outreach to Muslim majority communities. However, the GEP will work with any country that is considered to be near the “tipping point” to go entrepreneurial, and where there is a commitment from both the public and private sector to improve the entrepreneurial environment. The GEP currently has 15 focus countries, including 2 pilot countries. The first pilot program was launched in Egypt in June 2010, and the second pilot will launch in Indonesia in early 2011.