“Women Empowerment is vital to development”, said India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi while inaugurating the eighth edition of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) that was held in Hyderabad over November 28-30. The prestigious event, a gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators, academicians, business leaders, and investors from around the world, was held for the first time in India. The highly successful summit was co-hosted by the Governments of the USA and India, with the USA delegation led by Ivanka Trump, an advisor to the USA President, Donald Trump.

Women First, Prosperity for All
Unlike earlier editions, this summit solely centred around women entrepreneurs and highlighted their vast potential that is crucial for the future of innovation. The event comprised largely of all-female delegations from several participating countries, including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel. This year’s summit theme demonstrated the commitment of the USA and Indian governments to the principle that when women are economically empowered, their communities and countries thrive.

GES 2017 primarily focussed on four key areas – energy and infrastructure, media and entertainment, healthcare and life sciences and digital economy and financial technology (fintech). The event created an empowering environment for innovators, particularly women, to take their ideas to the next level. The summit also explored ways, through workshops, master classes and breakout sessions, to remove barriers faced by women in building businesses both in developing and developed countries.

Ivanka Trump extends support to India
Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump highlighted the support of the US administration for India under President Trump, adding that “India has a true friend in the White House.” Ms Trump also participated in a couple of panel discussions, including the inaugural plenary revolving around the theme “Be the Change: Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership” along with India’s defence minister, Nirmala Sitharaman and Sibongile Sambo, founder of an aviation company in South Africa. Stressing on gender equality in her address at the GES opening ceremony, Ms Trump remarked that if India closed the labour-force gender gap by half, the economy could grow by over US$150 billion in the next three years.

Inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to India, PM Modi said that the power to think differently and ahead of time for the betterment of mankind is what sets entrepreneurs apart

Entrepreneurs “think differently and ahead of time”
Inviting entrepreneurs from around the world to India, PM Modi said that the power to think differently and ahead of time for the betterment of mankind is what sets entrepreneurs apart. MP Modi added, “I see that power in India’s young generation today. I see 800 million potential entrepreneurs who can work towards making the world a better place.” The GES closing session also portrayed initiatives to advance women in leadership positions, while breaking down barriers that disproportionately affect women’s ability to start and grow businesses.

The interesting sidelights to the summit were the personal stories shared by remarkable women such as Anousheh Ansari, the Iranian-American space traveller, who revolutionised the space industry by opening it up to private sector participation; Dr Tessy Thomas, director, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the missile woman of India; as well as the successful entrepreneur and fashion designer, Anita Dongre, among others.

Meanwhile, Jay Krishnan, the chief executive of T-Hub, India’s largest startup incubator, said that the summit helped put Hyderabad on the global map. He added that the event provided a platform for the Government to celebrate Indian entrepreneurs, while providing an opportunity for entrepreneurs to showcase their work to the world. He also welcomed PM Modi’s announcement that the Indian Government has enabled “Tinkering Laboratories” in more than 900 schools to promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among children. The venture has also sought to create 19 incubation centers in different universities and research institutions.

The spirit of the summit can be summed up in the words of Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, the government think tank responsible for organising the GES. Mr Kant said that for India, the GES summit held a special place as the country is more intensely focused than ever before to give entrepreneurs the necessary opportunities and ecosystem to help them thrive. The Governmnet has been encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship through Startup India, Make in India and the Atal Innovation Mission. The GES did prove that that innovation and enterprise is as robust in India as anywhere else in the world.