Malaysia has ‘taken GES to the next level,’ says US Ambassador
By A. Asohan October 10, 2013
- KL summit has expanded GES beyond Islamic countries and made it ‘truly global,’ says new Ambassador
- Entrepreneurship policy roundtable aims to create a framework that can be taken forward to next GES
MALAYSIA, in driving new initiatives for the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2013), has been more than just a host for the event but has taken it to the next level, said the newly-minted US Ambassador to Malaysia, Joseph Y. Yun (pic).
“Everything that has been done; has been done with so much thought and planning – we couldn’t have hoped for a better venue, a better host or a better organiser,” he said in his first press conference since taking office on Sept 12.
Yun noted that GES was initially borne out of US President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo in 2009, in which he spoke about the need to reach out and engage the Muslim world.
In that speech, “the President stressed entrepreneurship and innovation as something that is common to all societies and all races, and that it was also something that could bring them together,” said Yun.
“President Obama saw entrepreneurship as key to creating new jobs and improving lives; ultimately leading to sustainable growth,” he added.
The first GES was held in Washington DC in 2010, the second in Istanbul and the third in Abu Dhabi. GES 2013 is being held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Oct 11-12.
“Even though it started out primarily as an initiative aimed at reaching out to Islamic countries, GES was never meant to be limiting,” said Yun.
Noting that GES 2013 will be hosting more than 3,000 delegates from more than 100 countries, and will feature more than 100 speakers of which a large majority is from overseas, Yun said that the Kuala Lumpur (KL) summit was going to be “truly global.”
“We are truly grateful to Malaysia for expanding GES beyond Islamic countries,” he said. “Malaysia has taken it a step further.”
The White House had previously confirmed Obama’s attendance – the first visit to Malaysia from a sitting US President since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1969, according to US Embassy officials – but last week announced the President was cancelling his visit to Malaysia, as well as others to neighbouring countries, because of the US Government shutdown.
“We understand fully why President Obama cannot make it … but he has recorded a message that will be delivered on the first day of GES,” said Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Finance, the main organiser of GES 2013.
Obama’s place will be taken up by US Secretary of State Senator John Kerry, who will deliver a keynote speech, as will Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, he added.
Bumps along the way
International speakers at GES 2013 include Chris Anderson, former editor-in-chief of Wired magazine; Joel Barker, futurist and author; Don Tapscott, consultant and author of 14 books including the seminal Paradigm Shift; and Dr W. Chan Kim, co-author of Blue Ocean Strategy.
Malaysian speakers include Tony Fernandes of AirAsia, Francis Yeoh of YTL Corp; Ganesh Kumar Bangah, founder and chief executive officer of MOL Global; and Mark Chang, founder and chief executive officer of JobStreet.com.
“There has been overwhelming support,” said Irwan (pic), adding that the organisers had been aiming for 3,000 delegates, but now 3,900 had signed up.
But it has not been all smooth sailing. In the invitation to a pre-GES cocktail and networking session about a month ago, it was stated that GES speakers would include Amazon.com chairman and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos; Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; and even Yahoo Inc CEO Marissa Mayer.
However, national ICT custodian the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) has now confirmed that none of the three will make it.
“We are however extremely grateful to the US State Department which has been able to confirm other speakers,” said MDeC CEO Badlisham Ghazali.
He said of the more than 3,900 delegates, 60% are Malaysians, “which was what we targeted. The 40% who are foreign delegates come from more than 100 countries.”
“The two-day conference will have a total of 125 speakers will be speaking on entrepreneurship from a variety of aspects: Policy, education, research, innovation, financing, startups and incubators.
“Twenty-nine of them are Malaysian speakers – this is the ratio we targeted to ensure that GES 2013 would be an international entrepreneurship summit in which ‘the world can listen to the world’,” he added. “It will give entrepreneurs a chance to not only share best practices, but to also see what others are doing around the world.”
Badlisham pointed to a variety of satellite and GES-related events that have taken or are taking place in conjunction with the main summit: The Global Startup Youth or GSY initiative; the Ideas2Invest ‘hack-celerator’ organized by Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd and Angels Den Asia; the CIO Leadership Summit organised by the National ICT Association or Pikom; the launch of Microsoft Malaysia’s Innovate for Good youth empowerment programme; and MDeC’s own MSC Malaysia Cloud Conference, amongst others.
“The idea has always been that it was not just about the summit, but to also take the opportunity to focus on a lot of entrepreneurship-driven events,” he said.
Global framework to take GES forward
More importantly, Malaysia was keen on measuring the outcomes of all these various programmes and events.
“There will be different outcomes from the different events; one of them obviously would be in dollars and cents,” said Badlisham (pic), noting that many of satellite events have specific pitching opportunities, so one measurement would be the amount of funds pledged to invest in some of these ideas.
The other measurement would be how many business-to-business opportunities or partnerships are formed, which would be handled by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade).
“This will be reported after the summit so that we can measure what kind of business networking was achieved from hosting this event,” said Badlisham.
“On the youth side, we also want to see what kind of collaborative efforts youth around the world –including Malaysians – have come up with,” he added.
Most importantly, in an initiative also called out by Ambassador Yun as an indication of the country having “taken GES a step further,” Malaysia had proposed to the GES committee that the event look at the opportunity to formulate policies that would help drive entrepreneurship around the world.
“So, through the efforts of MDeC and SME Corp, together with Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, there will be a policy roundtable discussion on Oct 12,” said Badlisham.
The policy roundtable will bring together policy-makers and others, including those taking part in the various satellite events, to give their input on how to enhance the entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“The input will come not only from policy-makers, but also academia and research organisations, global youth leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists,” said Badlisham, noting that most of these stakeholders are in KL this week either for the main summit or the myriad of satellite events.
The policy roundtable will discuss five specific areas: Education, Funding, Policies; Youth; and Regulatory Frameworks that “sets the context for how GES can continue and enhance the entrepreneurship ecosystem” as it is hosted in different cities.
“GES has given us an international platform to do this,” said Badlisham, adding that Malaysia hopes that what comes out of the policy roundtable at the KL summit would be a framework for global entrepreneurship that can be carried forward to the next GES, whose host has yet to be announced, where it can continue to be refined.
This global input will be gathered and shared with all participants, so they can take it back to implement the relevant parts in their own countries or to give feedback to their respective governments on what they can do to improve the entrepreneurship ecosystems there, he added.
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