GES 2017: Strengthening economy with opportunity
After months of preparation, Hyderabad was abuzz with activity as it is opened its doors to welcome guests from around the world for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2107. While one of the main attractions for this year’s Summit was a visit by First Daughter and Advisor to the President of the United States, Ivanka Trump, the summit at its roots was a platform to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and the importance of supporting start-ups to develop economies. This year, the event is focused on promoting women entrepreneurship with the theme “Women First, Prosperity for all.”
Now in its 8th year, the summit has over the years, across countries and continents been an important platform for entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations and find partners and collaborations. The event has welcomed over 1,000 entrepreneurs from across 150 countries, who are being interacting and meeting with over 300 investors, over the three-day event.
This is the first year that the event is being held not only India, but in South Asia too. Being organised by the United States government in collaboration with the Government of India, this 8th edition comes at an important time when the US under the new Trump administration and India are working on developing a strategic partnership. A fact highlighted by Ivanka Trump during the inaugural session of the three-day global event held in the South Indian state of Hyderabad India.
Speaking at the inauguration, the First Daughter spoke highly about India and US strategic ties. “It is a symbol of the strengthened friendship between our two peoples, and the growing economic and security partnership between our two nations. As President Trump said earlier this year, India has a true friend in the White House,” she said.
In a press conference on the eve of event, Kenneth Juster, the newly appointed US Ambassador to India pointed out that the event was the first in a series of partnerships between the countries and added “India should see itself, over a period of time, as the anchor for US business and investment in the Indo-Pacific region.”
One of the issues discussed during the sessions was access to capital for entrepreneurs. The issue resonating with entrepreneurs from around the world raised by a delegate from Guatemala, who spoke about the challenges her company face due to lack of access to finance.
In a session, moderated by John Chamber, the executive chairman of Cisco, Sibongile Sambo, the managing director of SRS Aviation & SRS Petroleum spoke about how in the initial days of her South Africa-based aviation company, capital was one of the biggest challenges, especially for a women-run company.
“My mother who was a nurse in London, had to quit her job so that I could use her pension. No company was willing to give me a loan without a collateral,” she said.
Talking about India’s initiatives to improve the access to capital, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who previously led the Commerce Ministry, highlighted the Modi government’s initiatives like the Mudra Scheme, which is making loan access easy to both men and women entrepreneurs.
The government, Sitharaman said, is working on expanding access to not only the larger cities but also districts. One sector that was open to opportunity in India, according to Sitharaman was the defence sector for which the government was actively working on encouraging start-ups to participate in.
“On December 4, I will be working with chambers of commerce, to discuss women's participation in start-ups and how start-ups can help defence ministry's production and procurement process. I believe that there are opportunities for Indian start-ups to enter the defence sector, help the government procure and even possibly export. We want to make sure that we leverage that opportunity and ensure that start-ups are given equal playing opportunities when tenders are given out by the government,” she said.
Skill development was also an important topic discussed at the event. Chanda Kochhar, the MD & CEO of ICICI spoke about the importance of providing skills and opportunities to entrepreneurs – both male and female.
“Over the years, ICICI has introduced various initiatives to promote skill development amongst the youth. Over 24 such centres have been opened across the country and provide training in various skills from office administration to even dress designing. The initiative has helped provide training to over 100,000 youth, out of which 52% were women,” Kochhar said.
The other speakers in the panel were Karen Quintos, the chief customer officer at Dell, Ivanka Trump and Cherie Blair, the founder of the Cherie Blair foundation for women.
The Summit comes at an important juncture for India, as India had improved its ranking by 30 places and jumped to the 100th place in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking and also saw an improved rating from credit agency Moody’s.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while inviting global investors to invest in India, spoke about various government initiatives being taken to improve the business environment.
“The jump in India’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, from 142 to 100, in three years, is a result of this. We have improved on indicators like dealing with construction permits, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency,” Modi said.
While India was happy with the 100th position, the PM added that the process was not yet complete, and the government strives to reach the 50th rank.