by Jonathan Ortmans, Co-Chair, Spark

Six years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech in Cairio, Egypt, where he announced a new summit on entrepreneurship that would help increase support for innovators and job creators around the world.  Since that time, many have opened their eyes to the potential of their own citizens to power economies and expand human welfare through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Last November at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Marrakesh, the Obama Administration took another step forward and announced SPARK, a new initiative to generate “more than $1 billion dollars in new investments in the next generation of entrepreneurs around the world—to help them open a new business, expand into new markets and ignite the next era of innovation and growth.”

SPARK is driven by an emerging collection of organizations leading the charge to help entrepreneurs start and scale new firms in more than 160 countries. The coalition is led by the Global Entrepreneurship Network, Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The initiative also includes commitments from some of the most active and effective U.S. government programs helping entrepreneurs start and scale new firms.

While it is underway and already enjoys a strong base of support from organizations dedicated to the cause, it is only a start. The world needs more entrepreneurs and we must all work together to encourage the world’s citizens to unleash their ideas.

Youth unemployment. Poverty. Climate change. Access to education. There is an evolving list of global challenges in need of innovative solutions.

The impact that a relatively small but determined collection of individuals – men and women, old and young – have on their communities and countries has driven a massive expansion of effort to create more entrepreneurs and to help them launch new enterprises that can change the world. While much of the energy has emerged from grassroots startup communities in all kinds of economies and political systems, there has been a major commitment on behalf of our leaders to this effort.

The Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi reflects that ongoing commitment.

A multitude of new entrepreneurship initiatives are emerging from startup savvy policymakers—ranging from training on basic entrepreneurship principles to providing seed funding to entrepreneurs.

Nations have come a long way when it comes to supporting new businesses, and the world has never been more open to innovative ventures. Ambitious individuals and organizations must seize the moment and take the democratization of entrepreneurship to the next level—nurturing high-impact startups that change the world and open new paths for prosperity.

 On behalf of the entire SPARK coalition, I hope you will join the cause.