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US launches global initiative to help Muslim entrepreneurs

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: Citing Indian entrepreneur Shaheen Mistri’s project to provide tutoring to slum children as an example, the US has launched a programme to provide concrete support to new entrepreneurs in Muslim-majority communities before expanding worldwide.

The Global Entrepreneurship Programme and several other ambitious projects were announced Wednesday by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the end of a Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship hosted by President Barack Obama with 250 invitees from more than 50 countries, including six from India.

The projected were plugged as a US effort to bridge the gap with the Muslim world and take its engagement with the community across the globe to a new level of mutual trust and friendship.

Clinton said the Global Entrepreneurship Programme’s first pilot programme had been launched in Egypt, and the US would soon launch a second programme in Indonesia, before expanding it to a dozen countries within the next two years.

Referring to the success stories of several Muslim entrepreneurs, she cited Indian entrepreneur Shaheen Mistri for her educational programmes in slums.

“Entrepreneurs are tackling problems of poverty and inequity, like Shaheen Mistri, whose non-profit body provides after-school tutoring to children in slums in India,” she said.

“They’re closing gaps in healthcare delivery and access to capital, like Amjid Ali, a banker who leads health and finance outreach programmes for South Asian immigrants in England.”

The Global Entrepreneurship Programme, Clinton said, is an initiative that will provide concrete support to new entrepreneurs, starting in Muslim-majority communities and eventually expanding to others worldwide.

“Through this programme, we will work with the United States private sector partners and local businesses, along with civil society groups, to help create successful entrepreneurial environments,” she said.

Additionally, the administration has established partnerships with two Silicon Valley-based organisations, the Global Technology and Innovation Partners, and the Innovators Fund.

Both were started by US venture capitalists and business leaders inspired by Obama’s call at Cairo to support innovation and entrepreneurship in Muslim majority communities worldwide.

Clinton also announces the launch of a new effort to expand access to mentors for aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs. Several private sector groups have pledged to supply mentors from their global networks, including Intel, Ernst & Young, the Kauffman Foundation, Endeavor, TechWadi, the Young Presidents’ Organisation, and Babson College.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])