As the Administration’s point person on entrepreneurship, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker joined President Obama in Nairobi, Kenya to attend the sixth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). At the summit, Secretary Pritzker had the opportunity to highlight the work that the Department of Commerce does to address and support innovation, and meet with entrepreneurs, investors, educators, government officials, and business representatives from around the world.
As “America’s Innovation Agency,” Secretary Pritzker and the Department of Commerce understand the importance of fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. One effort is the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative which brings together some of America’s most successful business leaders to provide support to and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.
Four PAGE ambassadors attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit with Secretary Pritzker, including Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky; Chairman and CEO of Revolution Steve Case; Executive Chair of the Board of Kiva, Julie Hanna; and CEO of FUBU and Shark Branding, Daymond John.
As part of the summit, Secretary Pritzker hosted a roundtable discussion with the four PAGE members, colleagues from the Small Business Administration, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. State Department, as well as more than 30 entrepreneurs from around the world who receive USG support. The roundtable offered an opportunity for the global entrepreneurs to receive feedback on their enterprises and discuss how they are successfully working with the U.S. government.
In addition, Secretary Pritzker also participated in a tour of the GES Innovation Marketplace, where startups and government organizations set up booths to showcase their ideas. While visiting the Innovation Marketplace, Secretary Pritzker engaged with global entrepreneurs, and learned more about the diverse range of ideas emerging from the African region. One company that Secretary Pritzker learned more about was D.Light, a global social enterprise that offers a solar alternative to kerosene lamps and aims to improve the lives of the two billion people in the developing world who live without access to reliable energy. According to the vendor, about 10 million students are using these lamps to study at night.
The Commerce Department’s engagement in Africa via the Global Entrepreneurship Summit builds on a host of initiatives we have undertaken to help generate greater prosperity across the continent. We see tremendous opportunities for increased economic and commercial engagement in Africa, and believe that business can be a key bridge to helping Africans realize greater prosperity.