GEC Medellin: Thinking about the culture of entrepreneurship

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By Winnie Liu

Being in Medellin for this summit excites me greatly, as I hope to gain insights towards how this land with its rich history has been able to transform into one of the world’s most innovative cities.

Entrepreneurship is a vital component of society, as it covers and reaches across many different fields: from the personal experience of the entrepreneur, to the wider impact on society.

Entrepreneurship is about creation and discovery, with the power to fill the gaps in society where improvements or new innovations could be made. For example, major social issues are often on the agenda, but to what extent are those with larger influence (hence responsibility), really focused on solving these, without other self interests? An abundance of different attitudes and experiences need to be understood to see why entrepreneurship is more prevalent in certain regions and countries than others. The GEC serves as a great platform for these discussions.

Culture plays an important part in knowledge sharing within society and is at the forefront of my entrepreneurial interests. Importantly culture also guides social issues and agendas. For example, etiquette and unspoken traditions can be deeply entrenched in the sense that they form barriers,so that understanding values can be challenging for the purposes of global collaboration. Encouraging people to see differences in blind spots therefore has the power to better society in ways that people may not have considered before.

An entrepreneurial mindset should be developed more in countries where there is less
individualism- to both unlock more potential for budding entrepreneurs and to encourage the confidence of individuals to pursue new opportunities. It is one perspective to see that money in a way runs the world, but it is another to know that power and access to resources is not always equally distributed in many parts of the world, which impacts upon an entrepreneurs ability to develop.

The different configuration of institutions and mindsets are a result of cultural norms and values -resulting in varying levels of entrepreneurial activities. As such, a prominent theme at the GEC is the role of women in entrepreneurship. Currently living in Denmark, one of the world’s most egalitarian societies, has truly made me think more about the struggles that women across the world face in business. A recent article in the Daily Telegraph rightly suggested that “diversity” in itself is not good enough and that the benchmark for every board should be 50% female to be called a board of directors. Indeed the very act of tokenistic quotas serves to entrench gender difference and further perpetuate unproductive entrepreneurial mindsets.

Affluent populations and figureheads may not see themselves as having a shared consciousness with people in developing countries. In reality, even the theme of cosmopolitanism is dominated by actors in their relations of inequality. Westernisation has gripped large areas of society where those with less are unable to speak up or catalyse change that they hope for, as quickly as others who have the resources and ability to effect change.

Therefore, I am confident the GEC will be an invaluable place for me to learn from so many attendees and speakers from all across the world and different backgrounds, and to see their takes on the many issues and hopeful highlights of entrepreneurship.

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