“You’ll love the GEC, it’s like being at the United Nations!” said the delegate from Ecuador to me prior to the first day’s sessions. I was excited, but didn’t quite understand how true her statement was. There were people representing around 130 countries, and I made it to about 50 introductions of people from different countries before I stopped counting.

I was initially tempted to ditch the conference for the captivating beach, but luckily it was cloudy and rainy on the days of the congress. Topics discussed at the conference ranged from women as a strategic advantage, entrepreneurship and values, strategies for supporting entrepreneurs, and policies affecting the growth of entrepreneurship. There were also parts of the congress that were specifically catered to the lead delegates of each country, the individuals that are in charge of hosting Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in their country, that addressed issues around communication and forming national advisory boards. All throughout we were able to get a taste of how entrepreneurship, startups, and high growth firms function in the context of different countries illustrated through real examples from the diverse panels, which helped shape the role entrepreneurship plays at a global level.

Shaking hands with President of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Jonathan Ortmans

Shaking hands with the President of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Jonathan Ortmans

After discussions at GEC 2012 in Liverpool, it was decided that a focus on the Africa nations participating in GEW was required. Therefore, The Liberalizing Innovation Opportunity Nations, more commonly known as LIONS@frica, was created. The four pillars of this initiative are: Capacity, Connectivity, Credibility, and Capital. Being a part of this network is going help facilitate more sharing of information across African campaigns as well as allow more partnerships and cross-collaboration to emerge between organizations in neighboring countries. GEW/Rwanda’s campaign hopes to host an East African Country event to bring together organizations in the entrepreneurship space from the EAC region.

Some of the African Delegates at GEC 2013

Some of the African Delegates at GEC 2013

So what does all of this mean for the GEW/Rwanda campaign? Throughout the conference we had the opportunity to learn from other campaigns about their successes and challenges as well as become informed by the GEW-Global team of ways they hope to improve the campaign at the global level. With GEW/Rwanda, we hope to bring more global awareness to the entrepreneurship energy in the country through the LIONS@africa online platform as well as through GEW Global. The global team has a fantastic network to disseminate information to. To maintain the global outreach theme, we aim to have more globally featured events including the DECA Ideas Challenge and the Creative Cup in our GEW/Rwanda 2013 campaign. Additionally, we are looking into developing an advisory board, which would be especially valuable for sustainability purposes and transferring of information to new members. These are just some of the ways we will keep busy over the coming months as we prepare for November 2013.

Another exciting part of the conference was hearing Babson being mentioned or praised in one form or another, maintaining its presence as the leader in entrepreneurship education. “Entrepreneurship is a natural act” said one of Babson’s own, Daniel Isenberg, who spoke on the panel “Removing Brriers to Scaling Up” that Mr. Randall Kempner, the Executive Director of ANDE moderated. There was an additional specific mention during one of the panels by Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Ingrid Vanderveldt, highlighting the importance of Babson’s global outreach. Not to mention that I bumped into a current Babson Sophomore at the conference, Beatriz, who took me around her home city during my day off! I’d say it’s a small world, but that would discredit Babson’s conscious efforts to create a strong international community.

Me and Beatriz, the wonderful Babson Sophomore that took me around Rio on my day off!

Me and Beatriz, the wonderful Babson Sophomore that took me around Rio on my day off!

The closing celebration on top of the Sugar loaf marked the end of the week. Rwanda was a finalist in the GEW branding award category, which was quite exciting! But all the sessions and awards aside, attending the conference showed the affect that GEW has on each individual campaign. It tangibly showed me how Rwanda has become a part of a greater, global movement and how important it is that we maintain the momentum of that movement locally so that it may extend globally.

The exceptional GEW Global Team

The Exceptional GEW Global Team