From Connectivity to Creativity: Speed Convening on Entrepreneurship

On the morning of November 14th, Meridian hosted one of its unique “speed convening” sessions with a multi-regional group, as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program on “Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development.” The group of 23 visitors includes entrepreneurs, such as the self-taught (via YouTube instructional videos) CEO of Vietnam’s — a business-to-consumer e-commerce company offering over 35,000 products — as well as those working in government, academia and in NGO to support and inspire entrepreneurship. We were fortunate enough to be joined by three experts on entrepreneurship from differing perspectives: Michael Chodos, Senior Fellow, Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation, Georgetown University, and Senior Advisor, U.S. National Advisory Board on Social Impact Investing; John Hecklinger, Chief Program Officer, GlobalGiving; and Ian Oliver, Director of Client Services, International Strategy & Implementation Consultants, and Founder, Africa Talent Management. Topics during the timed, never-long-enough sessions ranged from access to technology (and capital) to government support of and incentives for entrepreneurial initiatives.

During their Washington, DC stay, the group met with WeConnect International, which helps connect women business owners with global markets, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, and engaged with Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in the lead up to their global week-long celebration of innovators and job creators. Following DC, the visitors head to Kansas City, Missouri, to participate in a kick-off rally for Global Entrepreneurship Week, visit Kauffman Labs’ 1 Million Cups (1MC) pitch session and attend GEW events on supporting women entrepreneurs and financing small business. City splits take the group to Denver, Colorado; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Diego, California before reconvening in Pensacola, Florida, where they will enjoy “coffee conversations” with local entrepreneurs and “home hospitality” — being hosted by local families for a meal in their homes — over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Project summary

From Connectivity to Creativity: Speed Convening on Entrepreneurship | November 2014
Number of Attendees: 23
Impact Areas: Business and Trade, Cultural Diplomacy, Entrepreneurship, Public Diplomacy
Program Areas: Exchanges, Convening
Partners: Private Sector, Public Sector, NGOs
Michael Chodos with Georgetown's Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation shares insights with IVLP.