Over 2,000 people gathered last week in Rio – the home of carnaval and caipirinhas. They included over 135 delegations representing the host nations of GEW – Global Entrepreneurship Week. Every March since 2009 they have gathered in ever increasing numbers for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress to plan and develop GEW as the world’s largest movement encouraging and supporting nascent entrepreneurs. Rio was the latest to play host following previous gatherings in Liverpool, Shanghai, Dubai, and Kansas City.
Building on last year’s amazing event in Liverpool, GEC2013 was hosted by Endeavor Brazil who put on a magnificent event at the Lagoon with a support team of 300. With events and sessions spread across four days the program featured 50 visionary speakers from around the world. Brad Feld Co-founder of TechStars, Bowei Gai Founder of World Startup Report, Jeff Hoffman Co-founder of Priceline, Alexandre Hohagen VP Facebook Latin America, Felipe Matos COO Startup Brasil, Dave McClure Founder 500 Startups, Linda Rottenburg Co-founder and CEO Endeavor Global, Mbwana Alliy Founder of the Savannah Fund, Marc Nager CEO Startup Weekend, Miki Kuusi Co-founder Startup Sauna, Fintan Donahue CEO Gazelle, Ingrid Vanderveldt Entrepreneur in Residence Dell – to name a few.
These were not just entrepreneur rock stars – they represented some of the finest minds and achievers. While the debate was diverse several themes emerged. The role of government – how to be constructive not obstructive, women entrepreneurs – examining the challenges and roads to success, and how to efficiently provide the right kind of support and reduce failure rate. Julia Deans representing GEW Canada saidtheir schemes were achieving a 15-20% higher startup survival rate and a loans repayment figure of 94%. Other insights revealed developments in experiential entrepreneurship education, ways to scale up fast, and how to build entrepreneurial communities.
It was indeed the united nations of entrepreneurship complete with signing ceremonies for new host nations Finland, Georgia, India, Myanmar, Palestine, Philippines, Senegal and Vietnam. Away from the Lagoon the fun continued with fringe events, helicopter rides, dinners and beach parties. The Congress closed with the GEW Gala Awards on top of Sugarloaf Mountain. Juliano Seabra and Endeavor Brasil certainly put on a world-class show. The baton now passes to Alexei Komissarov and his team who will host the GEC2014 in Moscow. If you want to be part of this extraordinary show next year sign up at http://gec2014.com/ In the meantime, plans are underway for 35,000 events in November when Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off across the planet.