Jonathan Ortmans

Building One Global Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Month: September 2011

Looking Past the Talk on International Aid

Late September is always a busy time in New York and Washington for world leaders. New York is crowded with heads of state and visionaries at the UN Assembly or the Clinton Global Initiative, and in Washington, DC, the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meetings that took place this past weekend always spur an assortment of organizations with global economic development missions to gather their flocks. We all wonder what all these expensive ‘meetings of the minds’ are accomplishing. To share my own bias, it prompts me once a year to check in and see how much development bureaucrats are really seeing and listening to the entrepreneurs on the ground doing the work.

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Revisiting Sarbanes-Oxley

We have heard several entrepreneurship-based proposals recently to get our economy back on track, but one piece seemed to be missing this whole time in the debate: re-evaluating Sarbanes-Oxley for young firms. We have long known that the compliance costs associated with SOX—particularly section 404—have been discouraging many companies from going public, thereby blocking their access to capital and growth. Researchers have suggested that Congress address this issue in some way, and a measure to allow shareholders of companies with market cap below $1 billion to opt-in under SOX was one of the ideas floated in the Startup Act released mid-July. The measure is now gaining track in Congress.

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Helping the World’s Future Entrepreneurs

Over time I have become increasingly confused as to the meaning of “youth entrepreneurship.” Here in the United States, invariably, the Small Business Administration adheres to the same definition as youth entrepreneurship advocates such as DECA and NFTE who serve high school age Americans and even younger. However, the World Bank and other multinational development organizations appear to be referring to anyone under the age of 40. Further still, private sector global entrepreneurship charities such as the respected Prince’s Youth Business International (YBI)—Prince Charles’s charity—narrow it to between 18 and 35. While the myth of entrepreneurs as “modern day Mozarts” in garages (to borrow Carl Schramm’s phrase) is slowly being dispelled, it seems our human instinct to avoid conversations about age is alive and well!

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