Ed. Note: This post was updated on 5/17/10 at 3:30PM
We just spent two great days at A New Beginning: Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Joined by over 250 participants from over fifty countries, the Summit highlighted the importance of social and economic entrepreneurship and strengthened mutually-beneficial relationships with entrepreneurs in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim communities around the world.
We were also joined by Secretary Locke, Secretary Clinton, Secretary Arne Duncan, USAID Administrator Raj Shah, Valerie Jarrett, Larry Summers, Melody Barnes, SBA Administrator Karen Mills, Fred Hochberg, USTDA Director Lee Zak, Acting President of OPIC Larry Spinelli, Director of the Peace Corps Aaron Williams, Sonah Shah, Pradeep Ramamurthy, and, of course, President Obama.
Among the great panel discussions during the Summit on Entrepreneurship, we met some amazing entrepreneurs from around the world who shared their stories with us. As the President said on Monday night, delegates came together at the Summit because of what we share in common – “a belief that we are all bound together by certain common aspirations. To live with dignity. To get an education. To live healthy lives. Maybe to start a business, without having to pay a bribe to anybody. To speak freely and have a say in how we are governed. To live in peace and security and to give our children a better future.”
Waed Taweel, a delegate from the Palestinian Territories, captivated the audience. Waed is a 20 year old student at Birzeit University in Ramallah studying Commerce and established an event-management company called Teen Touch. After hearing that Waed’s dream was to get an MBA from an American University, Babson College President Len Schlesinger offered her a scholarship to his school's MBA program. Waed is on her way to Boston on Thursday to see Babson and meet folks in the MBA program.
Another delegate, Ozlem Denizmen fromTurkey, wrote to us after the Summit:
I was very fortunate to represent my country in one-of-a-kind event that took place the last two days: the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. The experience was very similar to getting an MBA from the best global university in the world. 250 of us, from 60 different countries, gathered for the common purpose of economic progress based on mutual interest and mutual respect. This was the most positive, hi-energy, tangible action oriented event I have ever attended. It was filled with dreams, courage, and committment. It was the first official encounter between Muslim community entrepreneurs and their counter parts. It was a new beginning.
The Summit on Entrepreneurship is part of a longer focus on entrepreneurship, and we look forward to working with the participants, agencies, and those who couldn’t attend the Summit. Along with the commitments announced (pdf) by the President and the other agencies, including several new professional exchange programs, partnerships with Silicon Valley, and more, the attendees built partnerships and relationships at the Summit that we hope continue for years to come.
Rashad Hussain is the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference