Don’t Judge the Economy by the Number of Start-Ups

More new businesses are better for society, right? 

That’s a common assumption think Daniel Isenberg and Fernando Fabre.

For instance, take this recent Washington Post piece, headlined, “More businesses are closing than starting. Can Congress help turn that around?” Sounds ominous at first. But wait a minute – is starting more new businesses always a good thing? Isn’t it a basic economic tenet that well-functioning markets will have many entrancesand exits, that weak businesses (including thousands of one-person enterprises) will get recycled quickly (fast failure) and that over time, vigorous, well-regulated markets will support strong and growing companies, which in turn provide dignified jobs and prosperity?

This conflation of startups with entrepreneurship, and more broadly with “business dynamism,” has become so widespread it can muddle even the most serious research. For example, the admired Brookings Institution recently purported to explain an apparent decades-long decline in American entrepreneurship. The supporting evidence? More and more American companies are surviving and growing beyond 16 years. The implicit axiom here is that robust companies that have sustained and grown over the longer term are somehow less innovative. The authors of this study, as well as other commentators, imply or even proclaim explicitly that these dead weight dinosaurs are dampening American society’s entrepreneurial spirit. (It should be noted that amongst this group of apparently innovation-barren 16-somethings are: eBay [19], Google [16], Starbucks [43], Netflix [17], Apple [28], Cisco [30], Boston Scientific [35], and Dell [30].) In attempting to explain the root causes of the decline, the Brookings report also points to the parallel decline in the number of new companies registered during the same period. Their solution: “America needs more startups.”

The danger here lies in our unquestioning acceptance of the assumptions built into these reports, i.e. that having more growing, sustaining companies is somehow destructive of entrepreneurship in the economy; and that the decline of newly registered businesses, in and of itself, is a bad thing. (Note that Germany has witnessed an almost identical “decline” in dynamism over the past thirty years and most experts would agree their economy has been quite strong. And Alibaba is a 16 year-old company, and no one is claiming it is sluggish or un-innovative.) Indeed, empirical evidence showsthat the decline in new business formation is associated with increased per capita income, and the more new businesses countries have, the lower their GDPs are.

Most of us who have built or invested in sustainably growing business ventures (as we have) would be thrilled at their survival and growth. Anyone who has successfully built a company knows that it typically takes 15-20 years or more to take root. The WhatsApps are the rare exceptions.

These growing businesses – which we call “scale-ups” to distinguish them from start-ups – represent exactly the kind of long-term entrepreneurship that improves societies, jobs, quality of life, and innovation. Entrepreneurial scale-ups are companies – young or old – which are run and owned by growth-driven leaders, and which at any stage of their lives may launch a new growth trajectory. Study after study shows the following: Relatively high-growth ventures are often at least 16 years old, and are disproportionately high drivers of jobs, growth, value, and sustainability. New company starts are easier to count, but they alone don’t have the positive impact on economies that growing a company does.

In the coming eight weeks, we are engaging in a global effort to focus more of the entrepreneurship conversation on scale-ups and their positive impacts on societies and economies. This effort is primarily targeted towards this November’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, during which millions of people in 140 countries will participate in over 10,000 events to celebrate entrepreneurial start-ups. While of course healthy economies include adequate numbers of start-ups (as well as big companies, family businesses, and micro-enterprises), we believe that entrepreneurial scale-ups deserve more attention than they’re currently getting.

With an eye towards broadening and amplifying this conversation, we have developed a Scale Up Declaration, which we offer as a rallying point for what the entrepreneurship discussion should focus on, and what it should aim to accomplish.

1 in 3 entrepreneurs intend to crowdfund

Figures from Irwin Mitchell suggest that crowdfunding has come a long way since being regarded as just a niche option for funding a business.

The survey of entrepreneurs found that 32 per cent thought it was the most likely funding choice they would use in the next 12 months.

17 per cent said they would use P2P loans and 13 per cent angel investment, while two fifths said they were most likely to go for more traditional sources such a bank loans, grants and venture capital.

The survey found that accessibility was a key factor in the rising popularity of alternative funding. Sixty three percent said the growth of crowdfunding and P2P lending stems from issues and difficulties in accessing finance elsewhere.

Andrea Cropley, Corporate Partner at Irwin Mitchell, said: “Although many entrepreneurs have not yet used alternative forms of funding, it is clear that many are happy to do so and will in the next year. As with all finance options, whether mainstream or less traditional, it is vital that businesses explore all options and take the appropriate advice from specialists.”

Inaugural Women’s Entrepreneurship Day this November

According to a recent World Bank study, the global earning power of women is poised to beat the combined GDPs of China and India in 2014. Any country that manages to tip the scales in favor of women’s participation in the workforce is guaranteed to be ahead of the times in terms of economic development. Additionally, Forbes magazine has announced that 2014 will be a breakout year for female entrepreneurs who will lead their counterparts in other sectors.

GEW host organizations and their partners have long acknowledged the largely untapped potential of women entrepreneurs and are at the forefront of leading targeted campaigns and programs to empower women entrepreneurs. They have wasted no time in planning highly engaging events for WED which is scheduled for Wednesday, November 19.

  • GEW USA is a major partner helping to organize a WED Summit at the United Nations in New York City featuring VIPs such as Mama Sarah ObamaA small number of tickets are still available. 
  • GEW Belgium is organizing a women’s entrepreneurship conference featuring a keynote by Mrs. Michèle Sioen, CEO of Sioen Industries and the Chairwoman of Federation of Enterprises in Belgium. The conference agenda also includes a debate on entrepreneurship and education.
  • GEW Botswana has partnered with the Department of Gender Affairs, a sponsor of female entrepreneurship activities as part of GEW Botswana since 2011, and is keen to play a more substantial role this year with the launch of WED. GEW Botswana is also organizing a Regional Women Entrepreneurship Day featuring key entrepreneurs from the GEW network in the region.
  • GEW China and their partners will host a “Women’s Entrepreneurship Competition” as well as a “Demo Day” for women entrepreneurs.
  • GEW Germany will participate in cooperation with the German National Agency for Women Start-ups Activities and Services.
  • GEW Israel has made encouraging female entrepreneurship a priority since 2012, and has since made it customary to publish a female entrepreneurship success story each day during GEW.
  • In the past, GEW Mexico has dedicated a day of GEW to female entrepreneurs; a practice they have found helps maximize media interest in the campaign as well as makes it easier to recruit sponsors.
  • GEW Nepal is partnering with the Nepal Young Entrepreneurs Forum to organize a Young Women Entrepreneurship summit, a full day program featuring inspiring stories from female entrepreneurs, the common challenges they face and how to solve these challenges.
  • GEW Qatar, in partnership with The Qatar Chamber of Trade, will host networking events and workshops for female entrepreneurs. GEW Qatar’s social media campaign will also feature an opportunity to post videos of inspiring women entrepreneurs on the GEW Qatar YouTube channel.  
  • GEW Saudi Arabia is taking advantage of WED to launch a powerful women’s entrepreneurship initiative.
  • GEW Thailand is partnering with Bangkok University to host a conference called “Women Entrepreneurship – Thailand as a Role Model” that aims to highlight the role that Thai women entrepreneurs play in helping shape Thailand’s economic future.
  • GEW Uganda’s flagship GEW activity, a three-day forum for entrepreneurs will focus on women entrepreneurs on 19 November and will be held in different parts of the country with a theme that will explore ways to overcome “Barriers to Women Entrepreneurs”.
  • GEW Vietnam will organize a conference for women entrepreneurship with 100 participants.
  • Endeavor Global, one of the key partners of Global Entrepreneurship Week in 20 countries is also planning a social media effort around the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day.

Other GEW hosts who are planning to organize female entrepreneurship-focused events in celebration of WED include Bhutan, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada, Ecuador, Georgia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malta, Namibia, Somalia and Zambia. The number of participating countries is increasing every day.

What lies ahead for China’s entrepreneurs?

When China implemented its first economic reforms in 1978, the government accounted for more than 90% of GDP. By 2005, public sector contributions to GDP represented less than 50%. Does this mean entrepreneurs are thriving?

In rural China, there were no recorded private enterprises until 1994. Today, self-employment preference rates are in flux in all regions of the country, as the country welcomes back foreign university graduates and continues to experience massive rural to urban migration. Paradoxes abound though. For example, Internet censorship continues relentlessly, while a handful of Chinese ICT public offerings on U.S. exchanges in 2014 are hailed as job and value creators at home.

The size of China’s manufacturing sector should be the envy of the modern day Maker Movement as it works to inject manufacturing innovation in what we know as “industrialized nations”. The size of its population and economy presents a market which entrepreneurs from everywhere are trying to tap. Yet, various socio-political limitations present high obstacles to an innovative manufacturing sector and more entrepreneurs meeting demands from its growing middle-income population. These hurdles affect not only these sectors but also banking, services, government procurement, and even traditional sectors like construction and agriculture.

Beyond navigating a political environment that still favors state-owned enterprises, entrepreneurs also have lots of regulatory hurdles to tackle. For many, these hurdles lower their appetite for risk, deterring new ventures altogether, or limiting the number of ventures to the ones inspired by copy-cat ideas that have proven succesful elsewhere, like the plethora of Chinese versions of Groupon or car apps. According to data collected by the World Bank’s Doing Business project, China is among the most unfavorable business environments, ranking 158th among 183 economies. While piecemeal policy changes have signaled an acknowledgement of the contribution of a new wave of companies, the World Bank reports no significant reforms to make it easier to start a business during the 2009-2011 period.

Insecure property rights represent another major roadblock, and removing it has been on the policy agenda since a system of private ownership officially began in 2004, but progress has been slow. The most recent changes have been in the realm of opening new asset possibilities for raising capital. In October 2007, the new property law in China expanded the range of assets that can be used as collateral, to include accounts receivables and a changing pool of assets to secure a loan. Still, the Heritage Foundation has reported sharp declines in the overall property rights environment.

Despite a comparatively unfavorable policy environment, Chinese entrepreneurs in organic clusters in tier-one cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Gaungzhou have long shown that innovation can still flourish in a top-down economy. They form a critical mass of entrepreneurs that have raised the importance of entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur, and entrepreneur-to-investor networks, creating lots of economic freedom. For example, such strong entrepreneurial ecosystems are visible at the Touch (TNT) monthly meetup in Chinese tech cities, or for the outside world through the writings of TechNode, the official partner of the TechCrunch news and events platform in mainland China that is written in both in English and Chinese.

There are also plenty of positive indicators to be found by looking at the incubators and accelerators for China-based entrepreneurs that can be spotted outside of the main cities, such as Axlr8r, a 90-day accelerator program based in Dalian. Some target specific demographics, such as the Tianjin Women’s Business Incubator (TWBI). Respondents to the EY Barometer survey were most positive about this development — 52% saying that access to such supported services had improved in the last three years.

Further, in terms of startup or scale up capital, the success of many Chinese startups has demonstrated that if ideas are validated, the team is dynamic, and the entrepreneurs are rightly coached, money will follow. Earlier this year, the online education website TutorGroup raised approximately $100 million in venture capital. At the same time, Alibaba’s recent filing to go public has set the stage for what could be the largest Wall Street debut in history.

The government does seem to recognize the importance of new firms. As reported by the EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013, China’s Ministry of Commerce acknowledged that entrepreneurial ventures are responsible for 75% of new jobs each year and 68 percent of exports and has started to focus on improving the regulatory environment. In an attempt to reduce the amount of time spent paying taxes, the criteria and accounting methods for tax deductions were unified through China’s new corporate income tax law. More recently, measures to enforce contracts have been directed at streamlining court proceedings. In 2013, the Chinese government reduced the cost of starting a business by exempting micro and small companies from paying several administrative fees from January 2012 to December 2014. The test will come after this period expires when policymakers will have to decide whether they want to continue to find new ways to remove roadblocks for new venture creation and firm growth.

One other important “feat” has been what the Chinese government, prone to a planned economy, did not do, such as organized innovation clusters that more often than not, fail and become mere physical structures with little entrepreneurial life and energy. Vivek Wadhwa has pointed out that “top-down industry cluster is a modern-day snake oil”. As he explained:

“Governments can build infrastructure and pump money into education and R&D. But they cannot manufacture innovation. Innovation comes from creative people who challenge authority and take risks–who exchange ideas and experiment at the fringe.”

There are also some trends outside of government that might give hope for China’s entrepreneurs. For example, overseas-educated entrepreneurs returning to China are adding to the local mass of entrepreneurs you can see, for example, at the Entrepreneurship Foundation for Graduates (EFG). The returning graduates are injecting cultural capital and demand for entrepreneurial vehicles and support infrastructure such as startup incubators for their patents. EY reported that China is building 150 startup incubators specifically for graduates returning from overseas.

In addition, the rising tide for technology companies raises many other boats. AsTechCrunch reported, beyond a statement about the value of the entrepreneurial path, these success stories are building investor confidence. Moreover, the successful ventures will know how to work with startups as they seek innovation opportunities. More importantly, these rising large companies challenge the mindset of the lifetime employment at state-owned enterprises (known as the ‘iron rice bowl’).

Looking ahead, as in other economies, sustainable growth will depend on meaningful reforms to make the economy less hostile to new entrepreneurs by unshackling this giant nation’s entrepreneurial limb. From my meetings in China with government officials, I doubt Beijing will kill this enthusiasm. The shear size of the economy and strong government will make it hard for China to create a healthier environment where established and young upstart companies can coexist, but despite inherent contradictions within the political and economic infrastructure, the dominant flow will continue toward removing roadblocks that hinder the development of an organic entrepreneurship ecosystem.

They understand the importance of empowering ecosystems where for example, startups have the breathing space to produce agtech solutions that fuel China’s giant food production sector, which the government currently subsidizes to ensure its productivity and competitiveness.

When party leaders sit down and map the future of the economy, I suspect they are already figuring out how to tear down walls in front of China’s younger problem-solvers who are going overseas and tapping into other local, national and global exchanges of innovative ideas. Even in China, the power of the global startup community is incentivizing change for the better at home.

More support needed to enable women entrepreneurship development

Dell’s Gender-Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index (GEDI), reveals that more than 75% of countries surveyed are not meeting the most fundamental conditions required for female entrepreneurs to prosper.

 

Commissioned by Dell, the Gender-GEDI is the world’s only diagnostic tool that comprehensively measures high potential female entrepreneurship by analyzing entrepreneurial ecosystems, business environments and individual aspirations across 30 developed and developing economies spanning multiple regions, providing a systematic approach that allows cross-country comparison, benchmarking, and identifies data gaps. The goal of the research is not to provide a headcount of female entrepreneurs worldwide, rather it is future-oriented and designed to be a tool to guide leaders, policymakers and law-makers in identifying country-wide strengths and weaknesses and developing strategies to create more favorable conditions in their countries to enable businesses founded by women to thrive.

2014 Gender-GEDI Results
Among the 17 countries included in both the 2013 and 2014 Gender-GEDI reports, four increased their rankings (Japan, Brazil, India, and United Kingdom), four showed a decline (Malaysia, Egypt, Mexico and Morocco), and the others ranked comparatively both years.

The highest performing countries in the 2014 Gender-GEDI rankings are all OECD member countries with highly developed economies, and for the second year in a row, the U.S. (83) and Australia (80) came out on top, followed by Sweden (73), France and Germany (tied at 67), Chile (55), the United Kingdom (54) and Poland (51). The remaining 23 of the 30 countries studied received an overall index score of less than 50 out of 100, indicating that many of the fundamental conditions for high potential female entrepreneurship development are generally lacking in the majority of countries.

“To harness the full potential of the low performing countries, the Gender-GEDI results demonstrate that basic improvements are required in terms of access to equal legal rights and education as well as acceptance of women’s social and economic empowerment,” said Ruta Aidis, project director for the Gender-GEDI. “For countries with moderate scores, to improve their rankings, they should focus both on current women’s enterprise development interventions and support as well as basic improvements in the business-enabling environment.”

The 2014 Gender-GEDI demonstrates that top-performing countries are not necessarily the ones with the highest GDP levels; rather they are those who have committed to improving the conditions for female entrepreneurship on several fronts simultaneously, and even those with the highest scores still have room for improvement. While these countries tend to have good business-enabling environments overall, they could benefit from supporting programs designed to activate and accelerate the growth of high-potential female entrepreneurs.

To provide tangible examples on how women entrepreneurs can overcome challenges and maximize the opportunities flagged in the study, Dell commissioned an e-book, Forget the Glass Ceiling: Build Your Business Without One, featuring case studies of 10 women entrepreneurs, which is available for download starting today on Dell.com/women.

GEDI-Index 

Index Highlights
The Gender-GEDI is focused on the ways in which governments, institutions and corporations can support the effort of improving conditions for high-potential female entrepreneurship worldwide, and the 2014 results indicate that, across all nations, there is still much to be done, but by increasing access to education, technology, capital and networks, significant progress can be made.

  • Access to capital continues to be crucial. Access to a formal bank account is critical for entrepreneurs, especially since it is a necessary precursor to the financing (bank loans, credit lines, etc.) that fuels business growth. However, in 14 of the 30 countries, 50 percent or more of the female population is unbanked, with the gender disparities being highest in Turkey, where there is close to a 50 percent difference between men and women with bank accounts. Worldwide, women also receive less outside funding for their businesses than men.
  • Many industries remain male-dominated. Occupation crowding, or the existence of ‘male’ and ‘female’ jobs in a country’s economy, not only contributes to the gender wage gap but also results in the concentration of women’s entrepreneurial activity within specific sectors, which can be detrimental to fully utilizing a nation’s capacity for innovation. Out of the 30 countries, only eight received an overall balanced ratio across employment sectors, and in India and Pakistan, formal employment is so highly sex segregated that no employment sectors are balanced. Some countries and industries are beginning to address these occupational inequalities through voluntary quotas and targeted initiatives in the sectors that tend to marginalize women as a result of their ‘macho lab coat, hard hat and geek’ workplace cultures.
  • Female start-up activity is on the rise in emerging markets. Despite being ranked as top performers and characterized by overall favorable business environments, opportunity perception is fairly low in the United States and Europe with less than one third of the female population measured identifying business opportunities. In Africa, this number reaches 69 percent. Even with challenges around access to education and capital, female startup activity in the region is high at 86 female to every 100 male startups. Ghana has more female startups than male at a rate of 121 to 100. The Latin American and Caribbean countries included in the Index also exhibit high rates, with a regional average of 84 female to every 100 male startups.
  • More women are needed at the top. Even when the business environment is right, social norms can affect general societal support for women as entrepreneurs and their access to experiences as decision makers and leaders. Local attitudes towards women in executive positions can also effect whether women choose to take on these higher roles and responsibilities. Only five countries have 40 percent or more female managers (Jamaica, Ghana, Panama, United States and Nigeria), and in four countries the percentage of women is 10 percent or less: South Korea (10 percent), Turkey (10 percent), Japan (9 percent) and Pakistan (3 percent). While education forms the foundation for high potential entrepreneurship, management experience provides women with additional skills, experience and networks that facilitate female entrepreneurship success.
  • Women’s rights must be addressed first. In 22 of the 30 countries included in the Index, married women have fewer rights than married men, in 21 countries women lack the same access to employment as men, and in eight countries women do not enjoy the same legal access to property as men. A number of countries also limit women’s access to public spaces through legal restrictions and discriminatory practices. In order to foster female entrepreneurship, these countries must first address these fundamental weaknesses and take steps towards ensuring women equal rights.

Medellín to host 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Congress

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) has revealed that the City of Medellín will host the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC). Jonathan Ortmans, president of GEW and chair of the GEC, joined Minister Santiago Rojas Arroyo, head of Colombia’s Department of Industry, Trade and Tourism, and Mayor Anibal Gaviria Correa of Medellín to outline plans to strengthen the national and local entrepreneurial ecosystems to drive innovation and economic growth.

“There is a growing understanding by leaders around the world of the role entrepreneurs play in driving innovation and economic growth,” said Ortmans. “Medellín is an inspiring example of how a strong commitment to helping entrepreneurs start and scale new firms can bring stability and prosperity.” The GEC is an inter-disciplinary gathering of thousands of startup champions from around the world where entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, thought leaders and policymakers explore different programs and policies to support the development of strong entrepreneurial ecosystems. It consists of two primary plenary sessions – the Start + Scale Forum and the Research + Policy Summit – as well as dozens of parallel sessions and fringe events that enhance networks and illustrate how collaborative communities can help startups launch and grow.

In addition, during the GEC leaders of Global Entrepreneurship Week campaigns connect to map out plans for the coming GEW in November when millions of people around the world participate in some25,000 events, activities and competitions designed to help entrepreneurs take their next step. Medellín will become the second South American city to host the GEC. Rio de Janeiro hosted the GEC and delegates from more than 100 countries in March 2012. Past host cities include Kansas City (United States), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Shanghai (China), Liverpool (United Kingdom) and Moscow (Russia). In 2015, Milan (Italy) will host the GEC. The GEC is co-hosted by Global Entrepreneurship Week, the City of Medellin and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It will be held in March 2016 at Plaza Mayor in Medellín and is expected to attract delegates from more than 140 countries.

First big picture of world’s youth

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With half the world’s population under the age of 25 it is increasingly evident that national growth and global development, prosperity and security are dependent upon addressing youth needs and harnessing their potential.

In response, The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) partnered to develop an Index as the flagship project of the Youth, Prosperity and Security Initiative.The Index ranks 30 high- to low-income countries in five regions that represent nearly 70 percent of the world’s youth. Yet due in part to disparate and inconsistent data, we don’t have a sufficient understanding of how young people are faring or feeling in their lives. As a result, the needs and aspirations of young people are often unexposed and remain marginalized.

This joint effort is an outgrowth of a commitment made at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative by IYF and Hilton Worldwide to develop a youth-centered index. More than 50 experts and stakeholders from 35 public and private organizations were consulted in its development. The Index is comprised of 40 indicators grounded in economic and social growth and positive youth development theory and practice. They reflect the national enabling environment, youth specific outcomes, and youths’ outlook and satisfaction levels across six domains: citizen participation, economic opportunities, education, health, information and communications technology and safety and security. The data is drawn from public and independent sources that generally measure youth from 12-25 years of age.
The inaugural Global Youth Wellbeing Index gathers and connects youth-related data to assess and compare the state of young people’s wellbeing around the world. The Index is designed to facilitate both thought and action by elevating youth needs and opportunities and young people’s participation on national and global agendas. It also provides public and private sector decision-makers an easier way to understand the big picture, guide actions and investments, and drive progress over time. 
As this group becomes more economically active this newindex will become an important global measurement of their prosperity and inpact on the world.

GEW UK takes home Country of the Year award from Moscow

Competing against campaigns and host organizations from more than 140 countries, GEW UK, hosted by Youth Business International, was named as the best national campaign for 2013.

With 633 partners and 3,240 activities last November during Global Entrepreneurship Week, GEW UK helped 347,000 participants take the next step in their entrepreneurial path. It also had a successful collection of startup events – including a Google Hangout with Pinterest founder Ben Silbermann and Richard Branson – and a wide-ranging partnership with Barclays that evenextended to the Premier League. In doing so, the campaign secured its first-ever Country of the Year Award.

“There were a number of exceptional and inspirational campaigns hard at work building their entrepreneurial ecosystems,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Week. “At the end of the day, the UK team stood out for the work it did in empowering and connecting current and aspiring entrepreneurs with resources to help them succeed.”

The 2013 Global Entrepreneurship Week Awards were distributed as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) in Moscow. Held in the wonderfully ornate State Historical Museum, the event was attended by delegates that make up the more than 140 countries that drive GEW.

4000 delegates from 153 countries head for Moscow

 

 

 

 

 

The 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Congress, GEW’s annual meeting, kicks off on Monday with a Research + Policy Summit. The week is wall to wall events and sessions from the Start + Scale Forum to the World Summit of Creative Industries, along with activities happening across the city.

At the heart of the dozens of other panels and programs that make up the GEC is the 2 day Executive Sessions of Global Entrepreneurship Week.  GEW is the big tent under which top down and bottom up leaders, whether from the old school or the new or from one political system or another can find common ground in inspiring their fellow citizens to experiment, invent and birth the new. GEC will be announcing many new partnerships and programs on opening day of the GEC across the globe.

The GEC offers an incredible opportunity to come together to bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare. GEC’s hosts, the City of Moscow will be rolling out the red carpet at the historical Manege for what will be an extraordinary week for the world’s entrepreneurs.

Clean water for childeren in need – by not using your phone

 

UNICEF’s new Tap Project campaign is based around our mobile addiction. For every minute a person puts down his or her phone, the children’s charity will send the equivalent number of “fresh water days” to someone who really needs them.

Go to uniceftapproject.org with your phone’s browser, and follow the instructions. The app works with the internal functions to calculate how long you go without moving the device. If you want, you can start the clock before you go to bed. It runs for a maximum of 24 hours.

“We thought, ‘What if we could create a parallel between how in our country some people can’t live without their phone, and how in the developing world kids can’t live without access to clean water?” says José Carbonell, a marketing manager at UNICEF. “We decided to gamify that and ask, ‘Would you be willing to sacrifice your phone as a way of experiencing that sense of sacrifice?’ though obviously on a smaller scale.’”

Four days in, phone-users have already given up 7 million minutes. Armani will be footing the bill in March (the project currently has other sponsors), and Carbonell says other sponsors will come on-board soon. UNICEF also raised the stakes to 10 minutes per day of clean water, so it doesn’t bankrupt anyone.

The money will go towards building and maintaining water wells, putting in water pipes to rivers, and buying purification technology. Worldwide, 768 million people still live without clean water, leading to a rash of related disease. Every day, 1,600 kids die from diarrheal diseases, 90% of which are thought to be because of poor water and sanitation.

Carbonell says,”One of the nice things about going mobile is that you can reach everyone. But this really gives us an opportunity to have a conversation with a younger demographic.”