Entrepreneurship means ownership and self-determination

This Little Stove is Making a Big Difference in Kenya
December 9, 2015
Why Obama’s Kenya visit might be a turning point for African entrepreneurship
December 9, 2015

Entrepreneurship means ownership and self-determination

- Barack Obama
(Remarks by President Obama at Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya)

And since then, we've helped empower hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs, giving them a boost to launch thousands of new businesses and initiatives. Here in Africa, our Young African Leaders Initiative is empowering tens of thousands of dynamic leaders not only in business, but also in government and civil society. Because one of the things that we have come to understand -- and this is particularly relevant to Africa - is that in order to create successful entrepreneurs, the government also has a role in creating the transparency, and the rule of law, and the ease of doing business, and the anti-corruption agenda that creates a platform for people to succeed.

So this is our first Global Entrepreneurship Summit in sub-Saharan Africa. We wanted to come here. I wanted to be here because Africa is on the move. Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world. People are being lifted out of poverty. Incomes are up. The middle class is growing. And young people like you are harnessing technology to change the way Africa is doing business, as President Kenyatta alluded to. And that creates incredible opportunities for Africans and for the world. It means more growth and trade that creates jobs in all our countries. It's good for all of us. This continent needs to be a future hub of global growth, not just African growth.

And the country that's hosting us today is setting an important example –
Kenya is leading the way. Today, Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa. High- speed broadband and mobile connectivity are on the rise, unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of even more Kenyans. Every day around the world, millions of people send and save money with M-Pesa -- and it's a great idea that started here in Kenya.

From Zimbabwe to Bangladesh, citizens work to keep elections safe, using the crowdsourcing platform Ushahidi -- and that's a great idea that started right here in Kenya. Here in Nairobi, startup incubators are nurturing new businesses every day -- maybe some of yours -- each with the potential to be the great And the good news is that I'm not the only one who sees the promise of Africa. I'm joined on this trip by some leaders not just across my administration, but I'm also joined by 20 members of the United States Congress from both parties -
- because supporting a strong partnership with Africa is something that unites Americans. We've got some incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders who are well- established from the United States who are with us. They see the promise, as well.
And they're putting their money where their mouth is.

So today, we're taking the next steps to partner with you. First, we're offering entrepreneurs more startup capital. At last year's Entrepreneurship Summit, we set a goal of generating
$1 billion in new investment for emerging entrepreneurs around the world, with half the money going to support women and young people. A few months ago, I challenged governments, companies, organizations and individuals to help us reach this target. Today, I am proud to announce that not only did we make our goal, we surpassed it. We've secured more than $1 billion in new commitments from banks, foundations, philanthropists, all to support entrepreneurs like you.
Second, we're connecting you with the world's top business leaders and innovators. We hand-picked more than 200 seasoned investors and entrepreneurs and brought them to this summit. I've even brought a few of my presidential ambassadors for entrepreneurship. These are some of America's leading innovators and entrepreneurs. So if you see them, don't be shy. Pin them down. Get their advice.

Pitch them your idea. That's why they're here. And don't be discouraged if they say, I'm not sure that's going to work, and they ask you tough questions. Because one of the things every one of these successful entrepreneurs will tell you is that along with incredible successes, they've had some failures as well, and they've learned from them, but they haven't given up.

Number three, as I've said, we're stepping it up to support women entrepreneurs. Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs. The research shows that when women entrepreneurs succeed, they drive economic growth and invest more back into their families and communities. We've already helped build a network of more than 1,600 women entrepreneurs across Africa. We're launching three women's entrepreneurial centers -- one in Zambia, one opening later this year here in Nairobi -- and I'm proud to announce that the third center will be located in Mali. We've got some folks from Mali in the house.
And as part of that $1 billion that I mentioned earlier, the United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation is contributing $100 million to support Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Women initiative, making more capital available to women-owned enterprises around the world. So, congratulations.

So as you leave here today, I want you all to know that I believe in you. I believe that you have the drive and the passion to change the world. You can unlock new solutions to the pressing global challenges that we face. I believe that. I believe that as you make these innovations, you'll make life better for all of us. And I'm looking forward to being your partner in that process.

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