Faculty & Leadership Blog / Faculty in the News

World Entrepreneurship Forum – A Call To Action

Last week was the 2nd World Entrepreneurship Forum (http://www.world-entrepreneurship-forum.com/2009), a program founded by the EM Lyon Business School and KPMG with Babson College as an Official Academic Partner. It was my first time at the event, but it most certainly will not be my last. I spend a major part of my life at conferences, meetings, symposia, etc. and have become much more careful in prioritizing when and where I participate. I only want to go when I believe the event will make a difference in advancing entrepreneurship. I do believe exactly that about the World Entrepreneurship Forum and the people that have connected around the WEF.

I hadn’t been in Lyon before and first had a delightful immersion day with my friends Kathleen Diamond (who had just announced the sale of her business, Language Learning Enterprises, Inc. (LLE), that day and so was in rare form), Teri Cavanaugh, of Teri Cavanagh Associates and the Global Banking Alliance for Women, and Laura Kilcrease, Managing Director of Triton Ventures and so many more things as well. We were all new members of the Forum with high expectations for action oriented outcomes.

This year’s WEF was dedicated to the role of governments and public authorities in advancing entrepreneurship and for the WEF entrepreneurship by definition includes the creation of wealth AND social justice. The government’s role is a tricky one to debate from an international perspective. In the U.S. the reaction from entrepreneurs is most often more focused on what the government does “to” them rather than “for” them. This idea varies greatly around the world.

The Forum itself was planned around a number of types of activities, a series of workshops designed to learn about existing entrepreneurial initiatives connected to governments, some assessment of those initiatives, and some thinking about recommendations going forward. For this part of the Forum I presented about one of my favorite programs, the U.S. SBA Small Business Development Centers – http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/sbdc/index.html). WEF also included a series of public workshops with topics that included women entrepreneurs, micro-credit and micro-insurance, starting up, corporate entrepreneurship and several approaches to social and green entrepreneurship. We did eventually reach a set of recommendations which will be announced by the WEF quite shortly.

The wrap up session of the Forum was especially compelling for me. A number of the WEF members who were at the first Forum talked about what they had done in the last year based upon what they had learned at the first Forum. This was the action part I had especially been looking to find and it was impressive. If we as the WEF members are able to have the same kind of impact over this next year by working with our governments – at all levels – the entrepreneurial environment of the world truly will be more open and inviting for all kinds of entrepreneurs wishing to create the WEF type of entrepreneurship – that which advances both wealth and social justice.

Patricia Greene, Professor of Entrepreneurship