Tag Archives: entrepreneurship

Global Entrepreneurship Week Q&A with Karen Kerrigan

kerrigan_karenKaren Kerrigan is the president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and a board member and former chair of CIPE. For more than twenty years Kerrigan’s leadership, advocacy and training work has helped foster U.S. entrepreneurship and global small business growth.She regularly testifies before the U.S. Congress on the key issues impacting entrepreneurs and the economy, and has been appointed to numerous federal advisory boards including the National Women’s Business Council, the U.S.-Iraq Business Dialog, the U.S. Treasury’s Taxpayer Advisory Panel, and the National Advisory Committee for Labor Provisions of U.S. Free Trade Agreements. Kerrigan regularly engages with the President’s cabinet and key advisors, and has participated in several White House economic summits, scores of events hosted by the U.S. SBA, U.S. Treasury Department and other federal government agencies and departments.  She has written hundreds of Op-Eds and newspaper columns, and regularly appears on national television and talk radio programs.

Medhawi Giri interviewed Kerrigan for CIPE.

How did you get started in the path to entrepreneurship and what motivated you initially?

My path to entrepreneurship was a journey. Before starting out on my own, I had a variety of career experiences that helped me build critical skills that are necessary for successful entrepreneurship.  These skills and experiences provided me with confidence and know-how.  The motivation to start my own business came about when several factors aligned.  I saw a need in the marketplace. I had a desire to work on my own terms and innovate and create with fewer restrictions. In addition, I wanted financial independence. Of course, I was passionate about my idea and business opportunity and felt confident in my ability to execute. The bottom line is I wanted more freedom, and entrepreneurship allowed for that.

When you were getting started, how difficult was it to bring your idea to life and to make a business out of it?

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Learning From Each Other: Empowering Women Through Business Member Organizations

Participants at the ITCILO training in Turin.

Participants at the ITCILO training in Turin. (Photo: ITCILO)

As many previous CIPE blog pieces have pointed out, empowering women entrepreneurs leads to inclusive economic growth around the world. This point was further explored in a recent McKinsey report, The power of parity: How advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth:

“We consider a “full-potential” scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men, and find that it would add up to $28 trillion, or 26 percent, to annual global GDP in 2025 compared with a business-as-usual scenario.”

One way to increase the number of women entrepreneurs is by addressing the bottlenecks that prevent women from becoming business owners or circumstances that prevent them from expanding their businesses. And this can be done through policy reforms via business associations and chambers. To this end, CIPE and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITC-ILO) held a joint week-long training-of-trainers session “Women Empowerment through Business Member Organizations (BMOs)” at the ITC-ILO campus in Turin.

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The Voice of Youth in Economic Policymaking


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting at the 2015 Global Youth Economic Summit in Washington, DC, where over 450 leaders and practitioners from 50 countries came together. The theme of the overall summit was “Scale in Practice,” and it examined how best to design youth economic empowerment projects that maximize impact, scale, and sustainability.

My session was “The Voice of Youth in Economic Policymaking: How to Advocate for the Right Reforms” and I presented with Simon Van Melick from SPARK (a Dutch-NGO specializing in youth entrepreneurship in conflict affected societies) and Hania Bitar from Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALRA). Unlike the other presenters at the Summit, who focused on the initiatives like vocational programs, microfinance, and innovations in mobile-based educational games, my panel focused on how to engage and empower youth to be involved in political and economic reform of their local communities.

CIPE’s strategy for youth programming is to prepare young people to become self-dependent and take initiative. To empower and engage youth as leaders of tomorrow, CIPE takes four approaches: teach civic education, equip youth with leadership skills, empower civil society to be inclusive and engage youth in the policymaking process, and provide platforms for youth to share ideas on reform.

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Helping Diaspora Investors Make a Difference in their Home Countries

A money transfer service where people can receive remittances in Hong Kong. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

A shop in Hong Kong where people can receive money sent from abroad. Remittances accounted for more than 80 percent of foreign investment into mainland China from 1979 to 1995. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

“There is nothing more powerful than individuals motivated to invest in meaningful programs in their home countries,” said Eric-Vincent Guichard, the Founder and CEO of Homestrings, an online platform facilitating global diaspora investments.  The son of a Guinean father and an American mother, Eric spent most of his formative years in Guinea attending primary and secondary school before moving to the United States. From his personal experience, he knows the challenges that diaspora communities face when trying to invest in their country of origin.

Remittances comprise a significant portion of the foreign directed investment (FDI) in many countries. According to the World Bank, global remittances consistently dwarf foreign assistance by a factor of three, with $414 billion projected this year alone.  Even in countries that attract a lot of investment from global markets, the role of diaspora investment is substantial: between 1991 and 2001, the Indian diaspora was responsible for $2.8 billion of the $10 billion in foreign investment the flowed into the country. In China, diaspora investment accounted for the vast majority — 80 percent — of total FDI between 1979 and 1995.

Remittances have come to play this vital role as source of FDI despite various rules and regulations that make it difficult for individuals to invest in private companies back home. Traditionally, diaspora remittances have flowed mostly to family members, religious institutions, and non-governmental organizations.

These channels are invaluable when it comes to supporting charitable causes and small family businesses, but do not give investors much control over how the money is used or provide the opportunity to re-invest or make a profit. This significantly limits the potential of diaspora investment to develop larger, more productive businesses that can create jobs and economic growth back home.

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Meet the 2015 Global Photo Competition Winners


Joseph Balikuddembe, Uganda

Joseph Balikuddembe is a web application developer from Uganda. “[My] background and passion for fine arts manifested in my desire and love for photography, a passion am trying to grow as an amateur photographer. I take pictures mainly with my phone as I go about my day,” Balikuddembe said.

“When I met Jackie, the lady in the picture, it was at a mentorship expo organized with select youth entrepreneurs who were doing activities that they could share stories with those at the expo to learn how they made it and to impart skills that would empower youths to better their lives through skills development and for democratic empowerment, for which she was one of the mentors.

This was one of the pictures I took of her at her stall. I loved the way she was tutoring people to design clothes and clothes artifacts from scrap materials and from scrap clothes. Her display was one of the most popular. I took the picture with a hope that one day I will be able to tell her story, or the little I know of it.”

Meagan Moses, Texas, USA

Meagan Moses, Texas, USA

Meagan Moses is a third year student at the University of Texas, pursuing a degree in studio art with a certificate in innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity.  “My family includes several entrepreneurs and I have always been encouraged to work hard, set high goals, and to not let anything get in the way of obtaining those goals,” she said.

“My photo is of Lungile, a South Africa woman living in the township Imizamo Yethu. When visiting the Cape Town Township, I was in awe of the conditions in which these people lived.  Forced to do all that they can to earn a living, many people in this community are left with no option other than being entrepreneurial. Lungile worked out of an abandoned shack home stringing beads to create beauty wear for women within the township, and hopes of selling them as souvenirs to their visitors.”


Daniel Eguren, Venezuela

Daniel Eguren is a fine art photographer and filmmaker in Barquisimeto, Venezuela whose work has been recognized at a number of regional and international festivals. He also works on entrepreneurship and youth empowerment projects.

“My photo represents my personal journey from elementary school to the person I am today, a dreamer with a lot of ideas in mind, an entrepreneur, and a leader. Education is crucial to help and empower kids to find the right direction and to develop the skills of what they want to become when they grow up.

As far as I’m concerned teachers don’t really focus on developing kids skills so kids waste their ‘entrepreneurial spirit.’ If that’s the case, I think teachers have to focus more on that. I’m a believer that entrepreneurship and creating a company is not about personal benefit but it is for the community benefits, to service people needs and to contribute to the progress of the world. “

Thanks to the more than 100 photographers who entered the competition and to the hundreds who voted online for the winners! Each winner will receive a $250 USD honorarium for their photo.

Investing in Bangladesh: A Gender-Smart Approach to Private Sector Development

This post is Part 5 in a series. Read Part 1 herepart 2 here, part 3 here, and part 4 here. Jump to Ahmad’s comments.

Over the last 28 years, Selima Ahmad, the founder of the Bangladesh Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI), has worked exclusively on women’s economic and social empowerment – both in her country and worldwide.

As the first woman’s chamber of commerce in Bangladesh, BWCCI has become a strong voice to support women’s economic participation, calling fora gender-smart approach to private sector development. That approach focuses on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as engines for job creation and growth, and in particular seeks to tackle a range of issues facing women-owned SMEs in particular. For instance, less than five percent of loans for SMEs go to women-owned businesses around the world and the global credit gap for women-owned SMEs is estimated at roughly $320 billion.

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Women in Business Mean Business: An Engaged Civil Society Organization in Nepal

This post is Part 4 in a series. Read Part 1 herepart 2 here, and part 3 here. Jump to Bhandary’s comments.

Rita Bhandary is a woman in business who means business. She is the current President of the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Association in Nepal (FWEAN) and a successful entrepreneur in her own right. Rita began humbly, learning as she went to seize opportunities to launch her business and a career, and, eventually, to share her success with other women across the country. Her story starts not with the Federation of Women Entrepreneurs in Nepal, but in the home, like many women in South Asia.

As she noted at CIPE’s panel at a March 2015 National Endowment for Democracy conference in Delhi, entrepreneurial success for the women of Nepal is just like the recipe for success worldwide: take opportunities when they present themselves. Bhandary’s experience also shows the importance of sufficient human, physical and financial capital for women to succeed in business.

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