As we sit and watch the crisis in global capitalism, it’s obvious that governments are sticking their hands deep into the global economy and various national economies. The U.S. government is taking stakes in major financial and insurance firms, becoming partners (in all likelihood) with Detroit, planning major stimulus packages, bailing out over-leveraged homeowners, and planning increased/new regulations on everything from CAFE standards to 401K management.
For entrepreneurs, the landscape has shifted dramatically. Entrepreneurs and venture investors and lenders are unlikely to get much support from policy makers and elected representatives as those political types look to support/consolidate their power through their new corporate partners and other bailout recipients. In fact, policy actions, from bailouts to government/corporate ties, will likely hurt entrepreneurs going forward. The irony, of course, is that growth and innovation will come from new and growing firms, not badly damaged and slimmed down corporations, unions, and low-income homeowners.
Unfortunately, a new report on entrepreneurship in the U.S. from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor was released this week and it is not very sunny. The report is full of interesting information information (yes, the U.S. still exhibits high rates of entrepreneurship, albeit slowing) and for the first time GEM has looked into minority entrepreneurship in the U.S. The report is worth checking out.
One way of ensuring that the entrepreneur is kept at the center of our economy is by supporting entrepreneurship education. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to attend a positive, future-oriented event on Capitol Hill presented by the Youth Entrepreneurship Strategy Group. (A negative, old economy event was also occurring as the Big 3 and their cronies were on the Hill asking for $$$.)
The YES Group, led by the Aspen Institute and the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, presented a new policy paper/action guide on entrepreneurship education for policy makers. They also convened a great panel discussion with education committee staff from the Senate and House and introduced some great young entrepreneurs from low-income areas in the U.S. who highlighted what a difference entrepreneurship education can make in the lives of at-risk youths.
The YES Group sees entrepreneurship education as a key to solving the costly high school drop-out crisis in the U.S. and also creating a generation of entrepreneurs to spur the U.S. economy and lower poverty rates. The most interesting thing I heard was that out of the millions of students in HS and junior high in the U.S., only a small percentage have access to any entrepreneurship/financial education. Only nine states have formal legislation that promotes entrepreneurship education.
So while we have this rising tide of government intervention in the economy, let’s ensure that we support entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education. Only entrepreneurs can ensure the long-term growth of our economy.
BTW, for a little Canadian flavor, check out the VeloCity Residence at the University of Waterloo. The residence hall is a web/mobile media incubator for entrepreneurially minded students. I recently exchanged emails with one of their first residents and they have some great things going on. It is a great model for entrepreneurship education at the post-secondary level.