President Obama wants to encourage young entrepreneurs, and if he has to go out and lecture them himself, he’s willing to do it. As reported by Vivek Wadhwa of the Washington Post, the President himself took to the stage last week at his administration’s ninth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) to give attendees tips on pitching their ideas and finding early investors.
Over the course of the two-day event at Stanford University, the President also found time to talk with Mark Zuckerberg, as well as interview young entrepreneurs from Rwanda, Egypt, and Peru. The full program featured additional appearances by Alphabet’s Sergey Brin, Secretary of State John Kerry, and countless more. In total, the event drew 1,200 delegates from 170 countries.
But Obama’s not in it for the show (big as it may be). He and his administration believe that upstart capitalism is an invaluable tool for boosting growth in developing countries like Cuba and elsewhere. While American culture tends to celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit, other parts of the world are less reverent of young business owners. The GES Summit is a way to bring that American enthusiasm to entrepreneurs around the world.
The President has opinions on policy, too. He is especially concerned with government inefficiencies that can hamper start-ups in foreign countries. Following GES conferences in Dubai and Kuala Lumpur in recent years, leaders in the host countries have made efforts to fix internet regulations and other barriers that have limited growth, evidence of the Summit’s impact.
At a basic level, the GES is a pitch for American capitalism: a chance to show interested people around the world why starting a company is not just a pipe dream, but an achievable, praiseworthy task. And Obama is an earnest and enthusiastic salesman.