Profit-driven entrepreneurs do more to help low-income families than many activists with social missions, keynote speaker Iqbal Quadir said April 24, 2015, at the fifth annual Emerging Markets Forum in Washington, D.C.
The daylong event, organized by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, brought together business, policy and academic leaders to discuss entrepreneurship in a global marketplace. A U.S. Department of Education grant provided funding.
“Entrepreneurs create tools that make everyone more productive,” said Quadir, founder and emeritus director of the Legatum Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Quadir cited the example of German printer Johannes Gutenberg, who made books accessible to the masses with the invention and commercialization of a new press more than 500 years ago. “He unleashed probably the biggest social transformation in Europe,” Quadir said. “He was, by the way, a for-profit entrepreneur. He was just trying to make money.”
Quadir also shared the stories of publisher Benjamin Day, who sold newspapers at one-sixth the price of anyone before him; automaker Henry Ford, who slashed the cost of car production; and sewing machine manufacturer Isaac Singer, the inventor of microcredit.
“Their main role is cutting down costs so people of low or medium income can have access,” Quadir said. When this happens, buyers, sellers and entire countries benefit. “It’s a win-win-win,” Quadir said. Watch his full remarks (45:15).
Mohamed Abdel-Kader, deputy assistant secretary of international and foreign language education at the U.S. Department of Education, set the tone for the forum with opening remarks focused on the value of global mindset. “It’s not enough for us to approach entrepreneurship in a linear or one-dimensional way,” Abdel-Kader said. “Having a global perspective adds that high definition.” Watch his full remarks (18:03).
Smith School professor Anil K. Gupta, the Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy, Globalization and Entrepreneurship, delivered the lunch keynote. He said the story of emerging markets started with economic reforms in China and then India in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 30 years that followed, many so-called “third world countries” started rising up together.
“That story has run out of steam in the past two or three years,” Gupta said. “Emerging markets are no longer rising up in tandem.” He said the new global reality will be disaggregation, as some countries slow down while others continue pushing forward. Watch his full remarks (24:47).
The forum’s final keynote speaker was Benjamin H. Wu, deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “Students should be thinking entrepreneurially, and faculty should be thinking entrepreneurially,” said Wu, who reviewed Maryland initiatives to help the state compete on a global scale.
“Startups must think globally from their very inception,” he said. One key, especially for entrepreneurs unfamiliar with cultural and geopolitical norms in a new environment, is to find trustworthy local partners. “When you think globally, having a good local partner can make your venture much more successful, he said.” Watch his full remarks (30:07).
The forum also included two panels. The first, moderated by Smith School professor Bennet Zelner, featured Samuel Pienknagura from the World Bank, Philip Auerswald from George Mason University, and Harry Broadman from Johns Hopkins University. Watch the full discussion (1:04:29).
The second panel, moderated by Bill Burwell, director of U.S. Commercial Service in Maryland, featured three Maryland business owners who have expanded globally. Participants included Robin Weiner of Get Real Health, Chris Isham of Sidus Data, and Clifton Broumand of Man and Machine. Watch the full discussion (53:06).
Smith School professor Kislaya Prasad, academic director of the school’s CIBER since 2009, hosted the forum with opening remarks from Joyce Russell, vice dean.Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship managing director Elana Fine provided final remarks on the impact that one global entrepreneur can have. “We forget that one of our best exports is our entrepreneurs,” she said. Watch her full remarks (23:30).