If you ignore Africa, you do so at your own peril- MIT Global Startup Conference
Its been a hectic couple of days. I left Oxford on Tuesday after staying up all night writing a 3000-word essay arguing that famines are complex phenomena whose causes cannot be simply boiled down to food availability problems or even Sen Amartya’s entitlement approach.
A few hours later, I was in Istanbul, Turkey where I spent Wednesday to Friday as an invited speaker and MIT Fellow at the 2012 MIT Global Startup Conference to explore the theme Directions for Innovation. Over three days, we discussed new technological directions, global market directions and strategic directions for entrepreneurs, investors, and supporting organizations. Turkey, situated at the crossroads of civilizations with a vibrant economy, young population and fast growing consumer market, is poised to be a regional hub for entrepreneurship and investment. Istanbul, spanning East and West, was an inspiring location for this year’s MIT GSW.
One of my panel sessions dwelled on Entrepreneurial Expression: Strategies Around the World
Moderator: Bill Aulet, Director of MIT Trust Center for Entrepreneurship
Georgos Haour, Professor IMD Business School
Peter Barta, Executive Director of Post Privatization Foundation
Idris Bello, Program Director “Wennovation Hub”
Aysen Zamanpur, Founder and CEO Silk and Cashmere
For great tweets from the conference, you can check the hashtag #mitgsw on Twitter.
My opening remark at the panel session was; ‘If you are looking to hear about Africa in the context of hunger and starvation, you may leave now!”
Yes , there is hunger and starvation. There is hunger in Mogadishu, but there is also homelessness in Oxford. And there are many conferences devoted to talking about hunger, and many speakers better suited to discuss that. However, I choose to tell my own story, and its a story of what is possible (and happening) despite the many problems and challenges.
In sharing the great news about the startup revolution in Africa, I did reference this crowdsourced map of tech hubs/incubators across Africa, most of them less than two years old.
As I head off now to Washington DC for the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative with President Clinton starting this evening, I am unable to write a full post, but will let you enjoy the pictures below.