Celebrations for Global Entrepreneurship Week in Austria were in full swing this past week, and I was delighted to attend GEW Austria events as well as GEN partner UNIDO’s 50th anniversary events on behalf of the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
“The Entrepreneurship Summit” which took place on Nov. 24, was the main event of GEW Austria, and has been successfully running for 14 years and gaining momentum each year. The Entrepreneurship Summit is an encouragement platform for changemakers, to help people to develop and implement their own ideas. Around 100 speakers discussed, presented and worked with the audience.
The focus of this year’s Entrepreneurship Summit is summarized with its motto "Changemakers: Call for Action.” Among the speakers were professor and Dr. Matthias Müller from Starklarinettist University; the founder of Goettin des Gluecks, Lisa Muhr; serial entrepreneur David Dietrich; education innovator Marget Rasfeld; the EU Ambassador for Youth, and Founder of Whatchado, Ali Mahlodji; professor of traffic, Dr. Monique Dorsch; Stefan Krasa, who is the founder of a school in Nepal; industry entrepreneur Bernhard Bachofner; Dream Developer Harald Katzenschläger; Hermann Gams, the author of the founder ABC-Fachbuch, and Barbara Huber and Professor Dr. Günter Faltin, from the Entrepreneurship-Hero University.
The 11th “BA Idea and Business Plan Competition: Next Generation” was also part of the Summit, as well as the Youth Greenstar(t) Competition where young entrepreneurs from all over Europe compete, and the best project idea which partially solves a social problem wins.
The Summit compromised of 51 parallel sessions and plenaries which also included the invitation-only GEN Austria meeting led by Johannes Lindner, the GEW Austria host representing GEN Austria; Marcel Gasser, a serial entreprenuer respresenting GEN Switzerland; Oliver Bartels, founder of Triebwerk; and Faltin, who is also a German economist and entrepreneur.
Other sessions included an Ashoka meeting aimed to build networks of pattern-changing social innovators and select high-impact entrepreneurs, a “Female Founders Mini Mentoring” session aimed to act as the start of a long-term mentoring relationship for participants, a “Design Thinking for You” session aimed to change students' perception of challenges and a session on DreamWorking and Co-Dreaming.
The Summit included a number of workshops for entrepreneurs and participants in general. “Entrepreneurship Education” was one such workshop chaired by GEW Austria host, Lindner from Impulszentrums für Entrepreneurship Education and Dr. Thomas Pöschl from Working Group Actionsplan Entrepreneurship Education Commercial College Hallein. Speakers also included Gabriele Ott from Rural Entrepreneurship Development Unit of United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and myself. The workshop was based on a discussion paper on the essential elements of an Entrepreneurship Education Action Plan for Austria, and it was about learning how to recognise opportunities, a skill every citizen should have.
I also attended the opening session of GEN Austria partner UNIDO's 50th Anniversary on Nov. 21, which highlighted UNIDO's past achievements as well as the important role of inclusive and sustainable industrial development and partnerships for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The opening ceremony was hosted by Li Yong, director general of UNIDO, and was attended by ministers from member countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Austria, Cuba, Hungary, Nigeria, Rwanda, Thailand, Russia, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Egypt and Peru. The opening session was followed by a panel called “People: Scaling-up women’s economic empowerment through innovative approaches, partnerships for inclusive development.”
Women in entrepreneurship was one of the global themes of Global Entrepreneurship Week this year, and likewise UNIDO recognizes that gender equality and the empowerment of women has a significant positive impact on sustained economic growth and sustainable industrial development, which in turn are drivers of poverty reduction and social integration. Thus, women’s social inclusion and gender equality is a fundamental building block in creating stable, prosperous and peaceful societies.
On Nov. 23, I was a panellist for the UNIDO discussion, “The Prosperity: Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship Through Startups,” which included testimonials from the top three winners of the “Global Start Business Plan Competition.” The panel discussed the vital role for developmental organizations and funds to share best practices between international experts, officials from the public and private sectors, including line ministers, chambers, federations and entrepreneurship associations, academicians and researchers.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. It recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. It is evident that Entrepreneurship Development takes a center stage especially when it comes to achieving these Goals, which aim to eradicate poverty. Entrepreneurship Development in its holistic approach aims at unleashing new entrepreneurial startups and at the same time providing added value services to existing enterprises.