Elizabeth Gore is chair of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council and current Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Dell. She’s also the brain behind programmes like Nothing But Nets, Girl Up, and Shot@Life. Here, she explains the world-saving gap entrepreneurs could help to fill in the next 10 years.
Never before has our ability to achieve a sustainable future been so closely linked to the success of our entrepreneurs. While entrepreneurs might not wear capes, I do think they might just save the world.
We need 600 million new jobs in the next decade to fully employ the world’s eligible workforce, and entrepreneurs and small businesses are the top creators of new jobs.
In fact, they provide 70 percent of all new jobs in the world, and up to 90 percent in some emerging economies. They are engines of economic growth and key drivers of global prosperity.
On September 25, world leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations, putting into action the world’s to-do list for the next 15 years and unleashing a surge of action from all sectors the solutions needed to improve lives around the world.
One of the goals – Goal 8 – is focused on inclusive, sustainable economic growth, and creating employment opportunities. It also recognizes that fostering entrepreneurship is critical to creating jobs, encouraging economic growth and achieving a sustainable future.
The inclusion of this focus on entrepreneurship is significant. It means the global community has officially recognized that entrepreneurs are central to driving human progress.
From the vast farming lands of India and Brazil to the bustling streets of Kenya and Thailand, the world is recognizing that entrepreneurial innovation, creativity and tenacity is helping to advance poor communities and developing countries.
This is important, because while entrepreneurs tend to be risk-takers, they need an environment that provides the infrastructure to be able to place big bets that can prove successful and have impact. Entrepreneurs have the potential to shape our collective economic future for the better. With the right enabling environment, entrepreneurs can make major contributions to their communities, creating a positive ripple effect. The Global Goals will help unlock that potential.
Fueled by the technological advances of our time, entrepreneurs from all corners of the world are stepping up to become the solution to the very challenges that have hampered the creation of a sustainable, prosperous future for all.
In my career, I have seen how, given the chance and the opportunity, entrepreneurs from all walks of life can provide solutions to entrenched social problems and transform lives.
Take one example: microcredit.
When the concept was first introduced, many were skeptical. But the recipients of the small loans proved the critics wrong through their entrepreneurial drive. Those who were given the right tools and resources did not only make their dreams a reality, but lifted many others around them out of poverty.
We all — governments, civil society, private sector and global citizens — must play a role to make sure entrepreneurship remains a priority over the next 15 years.
We must ensure entrepreneurship is supported as the lifeblood of a thriving economy. We must create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for women and eliminate the barriers to their success. We must work together to keep the path to entrepreneurship wide open for anyone, anywhere.
Let’s give entrepreneurs the resources (and capes) they need to be our modern super heroes and save the world.