What happened at WEF? Highlights of World Entrepreneurship Forum held at Lyon, France, 3 - 6 November

Tuesday November 09, 2010,

8 min Read

Day 1 : Opening Session

The 3rd edition of the World Entrepreneurship Forum — the first global think tank dedicated to entrepreneurs, creators of wealth and social justice, with over 110 members of 55 different countries —had begun on November 3rd. The world renowned Forum represents a global community of entrepreneurs who share a similar vision: to not only create financial value through innovation, but also welfare and social justice for future generations.

The social entrepreneurs, politicians, and experts that have converged in Lyon are all determined to reinvent, and positively shape the world of 2050. Throughout the presentations last night, speakers emphasized the power of collaborative action and global-mindedness

As entrepreneurs, they called for action rather than just words. Some of the speakers included representatives from EMLYON Business School and KPMG, as well as entrepreneurs that are advancing social goals through business like Sabetha Mwabenga—a leading female entrepreneur from Tanzania—and Carlos Moncayo—advancing entrepreneurial education in Ecuador. This is Forum’s third annual event, and the 2010 consortium of social innovators and business leaders is eager to create new initiatives that can change the world.

On November 4th, after an evening of speeches, networking, and cultural exchanges, the World Entrepreneurship Forum kicked off with another panel of expert speakers. Patrick Molle—President of EMLYON Business School and co-founder of the Forum—emphasized the importance of early entrepreneurial education and the promotion of entrepreneurship-friendly societies. Sir Fazle H. Abed—founded of BRAC, a pioneering Bangladeshi social enterprise—talked about the challenges in solving global poverty and how revolutionary business approaches need to be implemented; he stressed the importance of regarding the poor as business partners and innovators, who can and must actively participate in common development. Professors Alain Fayolle and Zoltan J. Acs—both educational leaders in entrepreneurship at EMLYON Business School and George Mason University respectively—spoke about current and prospective entrepreneurial education in OECD countries, and how future cities can play a key role in social development through the support of entrepreneurial networks and environments. Mr. Elmar Mock—co-inventor of Swatch and founder of Creaholic—spoke about his passion for inventive entrepreneurial thinking, and how creativity must be preserved in the later stages of educational processes.

The World Entrepreneurship Forum  held at Hotel Metropole, overlooking the Saone River on the outskirts of Lyon.

Day 2  : Vision & Round Table


Entrepreneurs from all over the world discuss challenges and obstacles the world is facing nowadays. Second day session contained four key topics: entrepreneurial cities, boosting entrepreneurs at the base of the social pyramid, innovation and development of high-growth organisations, and entrepreneurial education. Four speakers with significant experience and knowledge in entrepreneurship have presented these topics on. The main topic of 2010 edition of the World Entrepreneurship Forum is to shape the entrepreneurs’ vision of the world of 2050. Somebody can tell that it is too early to think about the 2050. World Entrepreneurship Forum’s participants know – 40 years left is nothing!

Population of Earth is growing every day. It is projected that in 2050 we are going to have around 9 billion of people on our planet. Lets do the simple math in order to make the idea clear – for the moment we have 5,7 billions. This means in 40 years we would have 3,3 billions more. 3, 3 billion equals to the population of China and India right now. So we are going to have two more countries in 40 years.

The question is what we are going to do with these new countries? This is the problem not only of allocating increased number of population but matter of job creation and living standards of those people. Do those people would have an opportunity of having a job, high salary, receiving good education? And who is going to think about this problem? Governments? Local authorities? World Entrepreneurship Forum has gathered people who have a fascinating opportunity to find solutions for the jeopardizing demographic problem: establishing new ventures, developing socially oriented organizations. Entrepreneurs would create jobs while forming such an environment where people contribute their talents and passion developing intelligent economic, political and social environment.

There is another trend existing nowadays. People of age 50 -55 years old face the problem of adapting to the changes that happened in the world during the last decade: new technologies, different mentality, complexity and new scope of the business came. One of the routes of this problem is education.

Education is the basis, it is our trampling for the game we call life. The main idea of World Entrepreneurship Forum is that entrepreneurs are taught. We are influenced by our parents, our teachers, and our schools. Crucial point here to understand is that universities are not the start point. Secondary schools, primary schools these are the polygons where entrepreneurial mindset has to start being formed. And what is essential is that on every level of education (primary, secondary or high school) social justice principals have to be developed. Business and social development are two sides of the same coin.

Growing population trends also represent the problem of the “base of the pyramid”. The world is turning its face towards those countries with the highest growing rates of population: Africa, South America and other territories with developing economies. The challenge the World Entrepreneurship Forum sees today is to support entrepreneurs coming from the base of the social pyramid: environment that encourages poor people to develop themselves needs to be created.

Entrepreneurship cannot exist without innovation. Nowadays entrepreneurs with global mindset take their business as complex game containing idea, business plan and creativity.

The place where entrepreneurship is developing is also of great importance. Cities we are living in are important. People are coming to cities to share and exchange their ideas. In the past big cities have been considered to be the engines of development – today we see that cities of medium size are coming on the stage. They give an opportunity to develop commerce, innovation, knowledge, creativity and education while big mega policies put more and more constraints due to its size and complexity.

The World Entrepreneurship Forum is the great opportunity to share ideas, exchange possible solutions, start collaborating in order to contribute to 2050 world development!

Day 3 : The Forum Public Workshop (At Emlyon Business School)

5th November marked the third day of a fascinating event gathering entrepreneurs from all around the world – the World Entrepreneurship Forum.

The World Entrepreneurship Forum awarded four international personalities who are not only successful as entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, academics, and politicians, but individuals who are significantly concerned about global issues.

The award winners are : Mr. Liu Chuan-Zhi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Lenovo Group; Ms. Ela R. Bhatt, co-founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association, Ms. Christine Lagarde, French Minister for Economy, Industry and Employment; and Dr. Howard H. Stevenson, Sarofim-Rock Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

This morning started with two presentations given by Mr. Liu Chuan-Zhi, China and Ms. Ela R. Bhatt, India.

The modern world has a lot of constraints. We are surrounded by diverse economic and political systems: some of them favor entrepreneurs and some do not. Nevertheless, the experience of those people who became successful despite all the hurdles make it possible to believe that entrepreneurship is international, a concept that has no boundaries. So what is it that entrepreneurial people share in common?

The World Entrepreneurship Forum participants show that entrepreneurs are very determined and goal oriented people. They know what they want, they know where they want to go – and they are not afraid to put their words in action. This is why we have today such stories of success as Mr. LIU Chuan-Zhi who established his own company within the Chinese communist planned-economy. Despite lack of financial resources and business experience, he has created a venture that not only expanded internationally but also revolutionised the business world when the company acquired US giant IBM’s PC division.

Mr. Liu strongly believes that the success of the company depends upon the people who work within it. To stay strong and competitive you need to be sure your people stay motivated about what they are doing. Motivation can have a financial basis but culture is also vital. Culture within the organization is one of the most significant factors that can either improve or destroy the company.

One of the key themes to emerge from the forum is the key role that women play in the world’s economy as entrepreneurs.

Ms. Ela R. Bhatt has shared her story of establishing the Self Employed Women Association in India. This association is helping thousands of women living below the poverty line not only to survive but to create wealth and justice for others.

The World Entrepreneurship Forum also supports young people to take part in discovering entrepreneurship. Therefore, more than four hundred students with international backgrounds took part in four Junior World Entrepreneurship Forums in Singapore, China, India and France over the past year. These students shared their passion about entrepreneurship and they can help shape the world in 2050.

During today’s conference, the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index was officially launched. This index will determine those cities and countries, which have the most developed entrepreneurial environment.

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