Entrepreneurship Club Goes Global

This summer, in a move to further extend the reach and impact of HBS students and alumni worldwide, The Entrepreneurship Club of Harvard Business School launched its Global Entrepreneurship Initiatives.

Through the Global Entrepreneurship Initiatives, the organization provides a vehicle for HBS students and alumni to help catalyze the economic development of the world’s nations through supporting and bolstering entrepreneurship at multiple levels. The Global Entrepreneurship Initiatives is the umbrella under which numerous initiatives to support entrepreneurship worldwide are undertaken or seeded by The Entrepreneurship Club of HBS.

This summer, The Entrepreneurship Club seeded two initiatives led by two leaders of the club’s Executive Team: The UN Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards (GMA) competition, and the Global Entrepreneurs Network – Philippines (GEN Philippines).

UN Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards (GMA)
Bhakti Mirchandani (OH) and Deirdre Cooper (OH) conceived the UN Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards in early spring of this year. The GMA is a competition to celebrate entrepreneurship in Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan and Rwanda.

Mirchandani, who leads a global team of over 60 volunteers, believes that micro-entrepreneurship and microfinance are among the most effective, sustainable, measurable and scalable vehicles for helping the poor help themselves: “Providing the poor with access to financial services makes the goals of saving for their children’s education, shelter, and medical emergencies attainable. The resulting attainability of these fundamental goals should reduce unrest worldwide, as microfinance creates a clear path out of poverty.”

“By raising awareness of not only the importance of microfinance to poverty alleviation, but also the powerful economic role that micro-entrepreneurs can play in their families and communities, the Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards can 1) attract more investor and donor capital to microfinance institutions, 2) encourage the poor to start businesses and use microfinance to grow them, and 3) facilitate the drafting of legislation beneficial to microfinance. The GMA therefore has a great potential for positive economic and social change.”

Mei Chee (OC), one of the team’s project leaders, explains: “The United Nations has declared 2005 to be the International Year of Microcredit to promote small businesses and the financial institutions that provide them with “microfinance,” i.e. loans and other financial services. The broader aim of the Year is to put the spotlight on entrepreneurs who are helping to lift the economic fortunes of their communities and focus on bringing more capital to entrepreneurs in developing nations. In this spirit, a group of graduate students from Harvard, in collaboration with microfinance experts, young professionals, and other universities around the globe have launched a competition to celebrate entrepreneurship in an eclectic mix of eight nations. The Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards will highlight small business and microfinance as viable poverty alleviation tools in developing nations. The most important participants in the project are the small businesses themselves. Microfinance institutions will nominate contestant entrepreneurs, who will present their businesses at an awards event in each country. The event will feature workshops, awards ceremonies and an invitation for outstanding entrepreneurs to mark the launch of the Year through the opening of stock exchanges around the globe.”

Mirchandani aspires for the initiative to expand to 25 countries by November 2005, and continue to grow beyond that: “The vehicle for growth will be collaboration between businesses, governments, non-profits, and universities. Several individuals from each of these organizations are involved with the project and have expressed an interest in getting their organization more involved in the process in the future. Our mechanisms for knowledge transfer include building a team from diverse parts of the world and sectors of the economy who can be leaders in their communities during the next stage of rollout and composing a 35 page business plan on the Year, with 7 metrics for measuring success that additional countries can use.”

In addition, given that most of the world’s poor have very limited access to financing, facilitating access to capital for entrepreneurial endeavors has the potential to transform lives and communities. Mirchandani comments that “access to capital can greatly improve their standard of living and such improvements can be sustainable and scalable.” This combination of rigorous analysis and passion underlies the grand scope and vision of the Global Micro-entrepreneurship Awards, and will ultimately spell its success.

Global Entrepreneurs Network – Philippines
The Global Entrepreneurs Network-Philippines (GEN Philippines) aspires to help enhance the success of Philippine entrepreneurs and businesses in the global markets. GEN Philippines is focused on supporting Philippine business & entrepreneurial ventures, and on generating global business opportunities for Filipino entrepreneurs and Filipino businesses.

GEN Philippines’ seven program areas are designed to inspire the creation and development of innovative business ideas, novel product concepts, new market opportunities, and seeds for successful global businesses. GEN Philippines’ initiatives provide preparation and support for the successful entry and competition of Filipino entrepreneurs in international entrepreneurship competitions, and ultimately, competition in the global markets. In addition, GEN Philippines provides a supportive, mutually-strengthening network of aspiring and successful entrepreneurs, and strengthens a global ecosystem that promotes and supports global Filipino entrepreneurship.

Led by Analisa Balares (OH), one of the Entrepreneurship Club’s Co-Presidents, and Ella Aglipay (MBA ’04), Program Manager at Center for Women’s Enterprise, GEN Philippines’ leadership and operating team was assembled earlier this year, and has grown to become a partnership between HBS students/alumni and successful professionals in both the US and the Philippines. The global leadership team includes Joseph Lacson, CFO of MSNBC (MBA ’96); Joval Pantangco (MBA ’04, McKinsey Southeast Asia); Ayesha Vera-Yu (VP, BNP Paribas), Gary Mensenares (successful serial entrepreneur), Victor Bande (Head of IT of the Office of the President of the Philippines), and Noel del Prado (leading Philippine lawyer).

Success in the global markets ultimately depends on the power of a dynamic global network. In a press briefing, the Global Leadership Team stated: “The Global Entrepreneurs Network-Philippines is designed to help create a vibrant Philippine economy fueled by successful domestic and international Filipino entrepreneurship. There are numerous talented Filipinos throughout the world whose contributions to this cause can actually impact Philippine economic development. We are all looking for a vehicle to contribute and give back to our country. GEN Philippines was born because we want to help make economic growth it happen for the Philippines, and we want to do this now. Ultimately, this was created to be a vehicle for Filipinos/Filipino-Americans abroad to collaborate with those in the Philippines in working towards a driving economic development, so that someday, the Philippines can join the ranks of East Asian Tiger economies.”

Balares underlines the importance of having initiatives like GEN Philippines: “Beyond stimulating economic development for one country, the GEN-Philippines model is one that the Entrepreneurship Club hopes will be useful for other countries and regions of the world, and which we hope other HBS students will replicate for the regions/countries they are passionate about. In particular, access to global networks is of critical importance for entrepreneurship to flourish in emerging m
Replicating the GEN model for other countries and regions of the world is an initiative that the Entrepreneurship Club supports. With the goal of building an ecosystem that encourages successful global entrepreneurship, the GEN Philippines model offers seven program areas:

Global Network Exchange (GNE): GNE is a global network of potential clients, investors, advisors, and partners for Filipino startups and established businesses with the goal of creating opportunities and value within the network.

Expertise-building (Speaker Series & Workshops): The Global Philippine Entrepreneurs Speakers Series draws upon the network of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders from GEN Philippines and leading universities such as Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government, to share key insights, knowledge, and expertise with Filipino entrepreneurs aspiring to succeed in the global markets.

Competition (Philippine Battle of the Business Plans): Given that exposure to international competition is key to success in the global markets, the top winners of the Philippine Battle of the Business Plans competition in January 2005, will be sent to represent the Philippines in the Annual Battle of the Business Plans at the Entrepreneurship Conference at Harvard Business School in March 2005.

Global Forums: One initiative being organized with a partner, the First Asia Pacific Regional Conference on September 2005 is designed to provide Asian entrepreneurs exposure to successful global entrepreneurs, and to provide a forum for discussing successful entry and competitive advantage in global markets.

Incubation Services: For winners of Philippine Battle of the Business Plans contest, GEN Philippines offers assistance with business incubation efforts, from legal advisory to advisory work on commercialization and business development.

Global Collaboration: GEN Philippines is fostering the creation of Global Teams comprised of Philippine university/MBA student teams, and interested students from leading universities/MBA programs abroad, such as Harvard Business School/Harvard University.

Thought Leadership & Policy: GEN Philippines is creating and disseminating thought leadership and international best practice pieces around critical such as intellectual property rights, and cultural impediments/accelerators for entrepreneurship. GEN Philippines is also playing an important role in influencing policy to create supportive environments for successful entrepreneurship.
Conceived over the summer by Co-Presidents of The Entrepreneurship Club, the organization’s Global Entrepreneurship Initiatives underscores the importance placed by the Club on enabling and empowering HBS students to become catalysts of successful entrepreneurship worldwide.

Mousumi Shaw, Co-President of the Entrepreneurship Club, comments on the importance of the Global Entrepreneurs Initiatives: “While there is a lot of entrepreneurial opportunity still present in the United States, other regions such as Latin America and Asia are ripe for new ventures. Since the internet and technology boom in the late 1990’s, we’ve seen a heightened awareness of entrepreneurial activity, the establishment of venture funds, and a growing support network for entrepreneurs overseas. We’ve had several HBS graduates either return to their home countries or venture to new places, successfully establishing companies.”

Shaw explains: “The establishment of the Global Entrepreneurship Initiative really has two purposes: First, it’s important for the HBS Entrepreneurship Club to take the leadership in creating a stronger and more official support network and resource center for both current students as well as for alumni. Secondly, global communities benefit from our involvement in such initiatives, as will be seen in the upcoming Business Plan competition in the Philippines or through the Global Micro-entrepreneurship project.”

Dan Rosenberg, Co-President, emphasizes that the global initiatives truly call on the leadership role and responsibility of HBS students in a global society: “As the proving grounds of future world leaders, HBS students have both the responsibility and unique ability to share their inspiration and perspiration with entrepreneurs around the world. Furthermore, we believe the Club’s involvement in this program is a two-way street that will help Club members build new relationships and gain exposure to new markets.”

Through such ventures and initiatives, HBS students now have additional vehicles to help catalyze entrepreneurship and continue to participate as agents of economic dynamism throughout the world.