Tech Entrepreneurs Harness Economic Power

Every November Global Entrepreneurship Week seeks to highlight innovators who drive the economy and advance society.  A new study produced by the Kauffman Foundation shows that while many young adults (ages 18-34) are eager to start their own businesses, they are hesitant to do so because of the economic downturn.

However, this same study shows that Millennials understand the importance of entrepreneurship to reviving the bad economy, and that in America 64 percent of Latinos and 63 percent of African-Americans expressed a desire to start their own companies.

Historically, communities of color have seen entrepreneurship as a social justice issue, as economic self-reliance equals financial freedom.  There is a growing number of people of color looking for opportunities in technology.  This week CNN premiered Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley,” which follows a group of African-American entrepreneurs trying to pitch the next great start-up in the famous tech community.  About one percent of entrepreneurs who received venture capital in the first half of last year are black, according to a study by research firm CB Insights.  Many blame this small number on institutional racism, while others say it is a lack of interest among African-Americans to pursue careers in this field.  Nonetheless, the documentary shows that there is a growing interest in tech entrepreneurship among African-Americans and a new frontier is about to be opened up.

In Africa, mobile entrepreneurship have become key in economic development.   African women entrepreneurs are the driving force in this new economy.  Traditionally, African women work in agriculture, like Kenyan farmer Su Kahumbu, who knows first hand the challenges of raising cattle.  Kahumbu came up with iCow, “a mobile-phone application that allows herders to register each individual cow, and to receive individualized text messages on their mobile phones, including advice for veterinary care and feeding schedules, a database of experts, and updated market rates on cattle prices.”

“Eighty percent of Kenyans are farmers, and by that I mean people who make a living off of the land, and 80 percent of the food people eat comes from people who sell in the rural marketplace,” says Kahumbu to the Christian Science Monitor. “So, even though I’m not an expert in technology or development, I thought, why not take the gestation calendar of a cow and send it to agriculturalists, and that can help them increase their productivity, and also increase their savings.”

Learn about more tech entrepreneurs around the world at http://unleashingideas.org

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