It is a pleasure to be here today at Gadjah Mada University and to be joined by my colleagues to discuss entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education. I also want to welcome all the students who are viewing this panel discussion via digital video conference at dozens of universities throughout Indonesia.
The U.S.-Indonesia relationship is a critically important partnership. We are constantly looking for ways to mutually strengthen the relationship.
One particular area in which we engage with young people in Indonesia is entrepreneurship. As President Obama has said, “Entrepreneurship is an area where we can learn from each other; where America can share our experience as a society that empowers the inventor and the innovator.”
Entrepreneurship is also a topic that is near and dear to my heart. Before I started working for the United States Government, I had the opportunity to work with two special entrepreneurial organizations that you might have heard of – MTV and Discovery Communications.
At MTV we pioneered a new approach to providing the world's youth with the music and entertainment they sought.
I then joined Discovery when it had only 35 employees, one U.S. channel, and 185,000 subscribers. When I left Discovery, it had grown to more than 5000 employees in 177 countries, with over 100 networks, 37 entertainment brands, and over 1 billion subscribers.
Entrepreneurship is not only good for individuals, but is critical for the economic prosperity of our nations. In the United States, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms. They employ half of all private sector employees, pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll, and have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years.
I am pleased that I can support efforts to build entrepreneurship around the world in my current role as Under Secretary of State. This is a high priority for President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and our government.
Last April, nine Indonesians attended the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship in Washington D.C. The summit brought together more than 275 participants from over 50 countries around the world. They included men and women from many different walks of life – business leaders from diverse sectors, educators, community organizers, and social entrepreneurs, among others. The summit deepened ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world.
In her closing remarks at the summit, Secretary Clinton told the participants, “…we may come from different places. We may have different histories, different cultures. But we believe in the power of the individual…We believe that a person with a good idea, willing to work hard, can really make a difference.”
One of the summit participants was Sandiaga Uno. After being laid off during the financial crisis in Asia in the late 90’s, Uno turned to entrepreneurship to pay off his debts and put food on his family’s table. He is now the renowned co-founder of Saratoga Capital, the first private equity firm in Indonesia focusing on natural resources, which grew from four workers to about 15,000 employees.
Since the summit, we have worked with all of the Indonesian attendees to form the Global Entrepreneurship Program Indonesia (GEPI). This is a new program focused on supporting and empowering Indonesian entrepreneurs by marshalling partners, both U.S. and in-country, as well as multiple U.S. Government programs designed around elements that are essential for creating a successful ecosystem for entrepreneurs.
GEPI is a powerful demonstration of the U.S. Government’s long-term commitment to advancing entrepreneurship in Indonesia – by providing expertise and tools geared at building local capacity. We look forward to announcing more details about this program in the future.
As the President said in Cairo last year, “Education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” Quality entrepreneurship education is, therefore, crucial to equip young people with the tools to become successful entrepreneurs. It is also important to start teaching entrepreneurship as early as possible and to students in all academic fields.
It is natural then that close cooperation in education is a cornerstone of our comprehensive partnership with Indonesia, and our two governments have recognized the critical role of people-to-people engagement in strengthening and deepening bilateral relations.
In today’s world, many of the best ideas, leadership and entrepreneurial initiatives come from young men and women. You don’t need to be old to have a great idea, to help your community, or to support citizen participation in your nation and the world.
We believe in the power of youth, here and around the world. Both our governments are committed to engaging with youth, in ways that address their interests and needs and build links between them and their counterparts.
And don’t let anyone tell you that you are “too young,” or that your dreams aren’t realistic. All great leaders were once young – and many of them became leaders because they believed in their dreams and had the determination to follow through.
The same is true in the business world. All large businesses started off as small entrepreneurial initiatives. As I said earlier, Discovery was a very small company when I started. Starbucks began with a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Michael Dell incorporated "Dell Computer Corporation" with an initial start-up investment of $1,000 and an idea — to sell computer systems directly to customers. And he did that when he was 19 years old!
Enough from me – I want to hear from you. What are your questions, your ideas, your dreams for the future?