Details of Obama’s Programs To Support Entrepreneurship & Innovation in the Muslim World – 2010
In his “famous” Cairo speech in 2010, US president Obama made a promise for a new beginning with Muslims. While many observers call it a new conspiracy or decoy under the banner of “help,” others call it a genuine one for a new beginning.
Among the pillars of his promise is to help foster entrepreneurship and tech innovation in the Muslim world. We had contacted the US embassy in Amman, to get some details of the plans programs and partnerships and today we are publishing them unedited the way they were sent. Though this plan and programs date back to mid of 2010, they might have changed so we will contact the US State department to get an update in the over all strategy and on each plan:
Entrepreneurs for a New Beginning
Entrepreneurs for a New Beginning is a new two-way professional exchange program for rising business and social entrepreneurs. The Department of State is forging relationships to offer participants educational seminars, mentorship, and first-hand experience in the business place with American entrepreneurs. The program will connect participants with outbound American entrepreneurs and will examine strategies used in the United States to enhance the capacities of young business managers, to develop a spirit of entrepreneurship and small business enterprise, and to strengthen societies through the pursuit of social entrepreneurship. This program will bring 100 entrepreneurs to the U.S. over the next 4 years and will also work with private sector partners to send 100 American entrepreneurs abroad over the next four years. More information can be obtained from the Department of State.
Science and Technology Education Exchanges
During his speech in Cairo, the President said that “education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century.” This new science and technology exchange program will bring 25 science teachers from Muslim-majority countries and communities to examine effective methods of teaching science at the primary and secondary school levels. The program will explore how to nurture and support hands-on science education, how to demonstrate the relevance of science for children, and how to create a setting in which children actively engage in scientific learning. In addition, the participants will observe extracurricular science camps and science fair educational programs that emphasize experiential learning.
Professional Technical Exchanges for Women
TechWomen is a new professional mentorship program for women from eligible countries who are working in the field of technology. “Selected participants will travel to the United States in the spring of 2011” to work with mid-level female employees in various companies in technology hubs such as Silicon Valley. Upon the completion of their mentorships, select American counterparts will travel to the participants’ home regions to offer skills development and networking workshops for a broader range of women.
Young Entrepreneurs Program
Launched in September 2009, the Young Entrepreneurs Program is a professional exchange program that promotes entrepreneurial thinking, job creation, business planning, and management skills to assist young professionals. As part of the YEP, the Department of State “will launch a new initiative called Education to Employment Fellows. Beginning in 2009, this initiative will bring at least thirty fellows from eligible countries to the United States for internships that will aid their professional development.”
DIRECT ASSISTANCE FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP
USAID’s Commitment to Support Entrepreneurship
USAID will support all stages of the entrepreneurship ecosystem by working with partners to strengthen the business enabling environment, expand educational opportunities, facilitate market opportunities and access to capital, and build connectedness and business support. Specific efforts USAID plans to undertake include:
• Support business enabling environment reforms in 15 partner countries.
• Undertake surveys in five countries (Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Turkey, and Egypt) and use their findings to work together with local private partners to promote supportive environments to encourage economic growth.
• Provide open source web-and media-based entrepreneurship education targeted for women, youth, and other underserved audiences on topics ranging from starting and growing a business to the use of internet technologies…..
• Support local educational programs to build capacity among business owners and their employees.
• Facilitate entrepreneurs’ access to private sources of finance (e.g., microfinance institutions, venture capital funds, commercial banks).
• Develop and expand business innovation centers.
• Develop partnerships to expand the number of companies and volunteers assisting entrepreneurs in developing countries, thereby building partnerships between entrepreneurs in the U.S. and abroad.
Small Business Administration Partnerships with Oman, Bahrain, Tunisia
SBA and the Department of State have entered into several agreements with Oman, Bahrain, and Tunisia to assist women entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa. Through these Memorandums of Understanding, SBA will provide guidance and assistance in developing and implementing loan guarantee programs, government procurement policies, entrepreneurial development programs and business centers, and support to strengthen women and small and medium enterprises.
Global Entrepreneurship Program
A new effort led by the Department of State in partnership with the Department of Commerce, USAID, OPIC, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the Global Entrepreneurship Program will coordinate, integrate, and leverage existing U.S. Government and private sector resources, partnerships, and programs to support six methods of supporting entrepreneurs: Identify, Train, Connect, Guide to funding, Sustain, and Celebrate. The proposed program has twelve focus countries throughout the world, including seven Muslim-majority countries. The Department of State and USAID have launched the first pilot program in Egypt and will soon launch the second in Indonesia. ( already launched in Egypt)
FINANCING FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION
Global Technology and Innovation Fund
In response to President Obama’s Cairo speech last June, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) launched the global technology and innovation call for privately managed investment funds in October 2009. The Funds will make investments in start up and growth oriented companies in the telecommunications, media, and technology sectors. Some Funds will utilize a “technology transfer” strategy by importing existing technology in developed countries to increase innovation and efficiency in sectors such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. In addition, the Funds will promote the economic and social development of the target countries. With the private sector capital catalyzed by OPIC, these Funds will have the potential to mobilize over $2 billion in private equity capital for Muslim-majority countries. All Funds remain subject to review and approval of OPIC’s Board of Directors. ( already hundred of millions has been given to VC and PE in the Arab world)
Partners for a New Beginning
Partners for a New Beginning will be a group of eminent Americans from a variety of sectors – corporate, philanthropic, education, non-profit, entertainment – who will leverage resources and capabilities outside the U.S. Government to advance the vision for a new beginning with Muslim communities around the world. Partners for a New Beginning will be an independent, self-administered group that will operate in close coordination with the Department of State.
Expanding Ties With Silicon Valley
The Department of State will collaborate with partners in Silicon Valley to launch two of the first Silicon Valley-based incubators and venture capital funds in the Middle East, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. Both efforts will provide venture capital, Silicon Valley mentorship, technology and connectivity to emerging entrepreneurs in 5 locations – Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Malaysia. In addition to helping provide technological and financial expertise and access to capital and other services, these two efforts will help to build ties between business and educational communities in the United States and those in the countries in which it operates.