Building Bridges through Entrepreneurship


U.S. Department of State official blog


About the Author: Jose W. Fernandez serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

As night falls in Marrakech, Djemaa El Fna Square bursts with local sights and sounds: story-tellers, dancers, merchants, and guides all displaying their talents and wares for locals and tourists alike. I am in Morocco to attend the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, as well as to discuss regional and global economic issues. But more than anything else, I am here to support young entrepreneurs, such as the ones I see in Djemaa El Fna Square, in their efforts to build, expand, and sustain their own small businesses.

Supporting entrepreneurship is a major priority for the State Department and the entire U.S. government. President Obama proved this when he convened his Summit on Entrepreneurship this past April. The Summit addressed the challenges that entrepreneurs face -- such as lack of resources and inadequate numbers of mentors -- by bringing together individuals to share experiences, build networks, and look toward nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders.

My bureau, the Bureau of Economic, Energy, and Business Affairs, plays a key role in supporting the President's vision for entrepreneurs through our Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP). The GEP seeks to support entrepreneurs around the world by working with partners from the private sector, NGOs, foundations, financial institutions, and universities to create business ecosystems to support entrepreneurs. The GEP also seeks to help entrepreneurs access training, mentors, and funding, and enable effective policies in their countries. We envision that this support network for budding entrepreneurs will have a ripple effect to ultimately improve global economic conditions and create jobs both at home and abroad.

To give you an example, we are supporting the efforts of Mr. Hassan Azzazy, a professor at the American University of Cairo, who is working to incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum of his university. By teaching and connecting students to principles of entrepreneurship early on, young business men and women will have the tools they need to make a significant difference in their communities right away.

I make it a priority to meet with young entrepreneurs in every country I visit. In my travels from Turkey to Indonesia to this trip and the inspiring students I have met at the Injaz al-Arab Young Entrepreneurs Competition here in Morocco, I am delighted to be a part of this broad approach to building lasting partnerships around the globe. My next adventure in this regard will be in early December, when I travel to Algeria for the first annual U.S.-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference. Stay tuned for my report from Algiers.

Back to Media Center