It’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, so I have the inside scoop from Chris Spavin, a member of the Make Your Mark team working with partners to deliver GEW, catalyze events overseas, and assist the campaign’s development abroad. Chris believes, “there is so much untapped potential in people and sometimes all we need is a simple catalyst.” Learn more about the work below in Chris’ own words and find out how you can get involved!
What’s Global Entrepreneurship Week all about?
Global Entrepreneurship Week is a campaign to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, and to unleash ideas that will address some of society’s biggest issues. The point is we need entrepreneurs and we need more of them, now more than ever. Organizations in over 75 countries are supporting this cause by ‘hosting’ their own national version of the campaign.
How is Make Your Mark contributing?
Make Your Mark is a co-founder of Global Entrepreneurship Week, along with a US-based organization called the Kauffman Foundation. We are both responsible for coordinating the global campaign, and offering support and guidance to our partners around the world. The campaign model is based on Make Your Mark’s Enterprise Week in the UK, which will be running for the fifth time this year as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We’ve got great experience running this type of campaign—there are over 6,000 events during the week in the UK alone this year—and we’re sharing it.
How can people get involved in GEW?
One of our main aims of this campaign is to mainstream entrepreneurship so there’s something that everyone can do to get involved. Individuals can register on our website and our forum. Organizations can run their own events, either for the public or for their staff, to inspire more entrepreneurial, or innovative, behaviour. Educators can get their students involved in competitions, including the Make Your Mark Challenge if you’re a school in the UK, or something like Stanford’s Global Innovation Tournament if you’re in a university. You can attend a Speednetwork the Globe event if you want to meet like-minded people in person, or you can meet them via our online community. If you’re involved in the media, you can write about Global Entrepreneurship Week to help us raise our profile. All of our competitions and events are available on our website, and there really is stuff happening everywhere.
Is this going to keep going beyond the end of the week?
Absolutely. This has been the very first Global Entrepreneurship Week and it’s going to run year-on-year. We’ve been doing it for five years in the UK but the vast majority of other countries are running this campaign for the first time. They are tremendously excited to build on their initial success this year, and to make an even bigger bang in 2009. We can’t wait to see how things grow.
What are some of the ideas you’ve heard about this week that inspire you?
There are a few of them that stick out in my mind. Amy Carter-James is a young British woman who set up her own lodge in Northern Mozambique that is both a high-end hotel and social enterprise that ploughs its profits back into the local community. I think it’s going to have a massive impact on Mozambique and the idea itself is quite simple. I also met an entrepreneur called Shed Simove who comes up with new novelty gift ideas – the kind of crude and hilarious things you find at Urban Outfitters. Although both of these entrepreneurs are on opposite sides of the social benefit spectrum (Shed may disagree with me about that!), they are people who have taken simple, fun ideas from out of their minds and turned them into profitable businesses. I find that the simplest business ideas are often the most inspirational because they really demonstrate that: “hey, I could do this, too”.
If you could be anywhere in the world for GEW, where would you want to be?
Aaaah, this is a difficult question! And it’s actually one of the first questions I asked myself and a few colleagues at the beginning of the week. I have to pick three. The Brazilian campaign is really impressive: they’ve got lots of amazing things going on and even managed to get a commercial featuring Michael Dell on national TV. Plus it’s nice and warm there—or at least I imagine it to be! The campaign in Kenya is also exciting: they had a big football/music event in Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi. Finally, Malta joined the campaign only very recently but have managed to pull lots of stuff together; the team there is so enthusiastic and pro-active. I would spend my time between the three places 🙂
What, in your opinion, is the most important reason to get involved in GEW?
I believe that everyone on this planet realizes why entrepreneurship is important, even if it’s not right for them. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, or wants to be (it’s not easy!), but I think every young person, no matter where they’re from, should be encouraged to at least consider it for themselves, and have access to the necessary support should they decide to take the plunge. There is so much untapped potential in people and sometimes all we need is a simple catalyst – could be meeting a person, or an inspirational story on the net – to take the next step and start turning our ideas into reality. Entrepreneurs – whether self-employed or currently employed by somebody else – are the people who will come up with the new ideas and create the new businesses that will lead us into a more prosperous time.
How you can get involved:
- Check out Make Your Mark, Kauffman Foundation & Global Entrepreneurship Week
- Share your story and join the community online
- Follow the blog for stories from around the world