“I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world,” President Obama, Cairo, Egypt, June 2009.
Often times putting words into action can take a long time. However, President Obama and several senior Cabinet officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, hosted the first Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship less than a year after the President delivered his speech in Cairo last June. The two-day conference, co-hosted by the department of Commerce and State in Washington, included close to 250 foreign delegates from more than 50 nations around the world. Among the attendees were entrepreneurs, investors, academics and many more distinguished individuals from nations such as Kuwait, Morocco, India and Cameroon, to name a few.
During the opening ceremony, President Obama commented on how “the United States and Muslim communities around the world too often fell victim to mutual mistrust” in spite of the common beliefs shared between the two communities. According to the President, now is time to change the course of the future that is plagued with past divisions, destructive actions, and the mentality of the past. Instead, the President hopes for greater cooperation in order to build “confidence and conviction in a future of justice and progress and the dignity of all human beings regardless of their race, regardless of their religion.”
The first summit found its focus within the discussion of entrepreneurship. “We believe entrepreneurship is a fundamental American value; it’s also a force that has the ability to unlock opportunity for people around the world,” said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. The President also added that entrepreneurship as a whole, “is in our mutual economic interest, fosters opportunity and prosperity in all our nations” as well as continuously fosters partnerships.
Among several objectives behind the summit, a large one is to forge concrete steps toward mutually beneficial partnerships among America and nations around the world, primarily those with vast Muslim populations.
Concrete Steps Forward
In response to President Obama’s commitment to partner with Muslim communities worldwide based on mutual interest, mutual respect and the 2010 Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has already forged partnerships with Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA) and Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) to expand exchange programs and pursue new opportunities in entrepreneurship and innovation.
ECA’s International Visitor Leadership Program, New Beginning: Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, aims to bring 25 entrepreneurs each year to the United States “from countries with significant Muslim populations over the next four years for educational seminars, mentorship, and first-hand experience in the business place with American entrepreneurs.” To complement this exchange, ECA aims to cooperate with “private sector partners to send 100 American entrepreneurs abroad over the next four years.” The ultimate goal of this and future programs is to create long lasting partnerships and networks that are “mutually beneficial and will support job creation and economic opportunity” in the U.S. as well as abroad. In sum, the program will focus on developing a spirit of entrepreneurship and small business enterprise, and expand on the understanding and benefits.
Most importantly, programs like this and more of which will come in the future, sets a strong example of the success of President Obama’s summit and mission to connect and nourish healthy relationships with Muslim and non-Muslim countries abroad.
For more information visit: