Briefing on the Global Entrepreneurship Summit

Special Briefing
Ivanka Trump, Advisor to the President; Michelle Bekkering, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator and Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment; Tom Vajda, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs
Via Teleconference

November 21, 2017

MS NAUERT: And thanks to all of you for joining us today to talk about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It will take place next week in Hyderabad, India from November 28th to 30th. I’m pleased to have with us today the advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump; USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator and Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, Michelle Bekkering; and also State Department’s Acting Deputy Assistant of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Tom Vajda.

Now, before we take your questions, I’ll turn things over to our speakers for brief remarks. Their statements will be on the record. However, our Q&A will be on background, attributable to senior administration officials. The contents of the call will be embargoed until after the call concludes. Please keep your questions limited to one per piece so we can get around to as many reporters as possible. And with that, I would like to welcome our team. And let’s start with Ms. Ivanka Trump.

MS TRUMP: Wonderful. Thank you, Heather. Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I am incredibly excited to be visiting India next week for the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit. I was honored to have been invited by Prime Minister Modi during his visit to the White House in June and very much look forward to leading the U.S. contingent on behalf of the White House and the State Department to Hyderabad.

This year’s GSE,[1] cohosted by the U.S. and India, is a testament to the strong friendship between our two people and the growing economic and security partnership between our two nations. Entrepreneurship, domestically and abroad, is a key priority for this administration. The U.S. recognizes innovation and entrepreneurship as essential tools for job creation, economic growth, and stability across communities, countries, and regions.

This year’s summit theme, “Women First, Prosperity for All,” demonstrates the Trump administration’s commitment to the principle that when women are economically empowered, their communities and countries thrive. Globally, between 2014 and 2016, entrepreneurship activity among women increased by 10 percent. One study estimates that closing the gender entrepreneurship gap worldwide could grow our global GDP by as much as 2 percent.

In the United States, within the last decade, the number of women-owned firms has grown by 45 percent. Even more promising, minority women have started nearly 8 in 10 new women-owned businesses. Today, more than 11 million women in the United States own businesses. They employ nearly 9 million workers and generate over $1 trillion in revenue. Very excitingly also, the SBA, this year alone, has lent over $500 million more in capital to women-owned businesses.

Women entrepreneurs are helping drive innovation and job creation as well as address the world’s greatest and most critical challenges. We must ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to capital, access to networks and mentors, and access to equitable laws. Together, we want to make this summit all about the entrepreneurs who are traveling near and far from across the globe to share their incredible stories and innovative projects. There will be over 1,200 entrepreneurs attending the summit, of which 350 are from the U.S., representing 38 U.S. states. I’m particularly proud of the fact that this is the first time that women will be the majority of participants at GES. Currently 52.5 percent of entrepreneurs will be women, attending from 127 different countries.

I aim for this summit to serve as an open and collaborative environment for the exchange of ideas, to broaden networks, and to empower entrepreneurs to take their ideas and passion to the next level. The U.S. and India will continue to work together to increase economic opportunities and inclusive growth. I very much look forward to my visit and to seeing Prime Minister Modi and Foreign Minister Swaraj once again.


MS NAUERT: Okay. Great. Let’s turn it over to USAID’s Michelle Bekkering. Michelle, go right ahead. Thanks.

MS BEKKERING: Great. Thanks, Heather. And thanks again to Ms. Trump for her leadership on this issue and for the delegation. So USAID – our mission is to end extreme poverty, to promote resilient, democratic societies, all the while advancing our security and prosperity. And we truly see that through our efforts to support women’s entrepreneurship and economic development we are meeting those goals.

Every study seems to agree that when women do better their families do better, their communities do better, and then their countries do better. This is a truly a multiplier effect. Ninety cents of every dollar that a woman makes around the world today is invested back into her family. As Administrator Green often says, from the perspective of a development agency like USAID, that’s about a wise as an investment as we could possibly make. So wherever we can, we seek to foster and strengthen inclusive economic growth. It’s helping our partner meet their development needs, but it’s also having a multiplier effect here at home, as it opens markets for American goods and American commerce.

To reach these goals, we’ve had to take a comprehensive look at the barriers women face, and I might add that these are often disproportionate to men in seeking to build and grow enterprises and in developing – and so then we develop and implement programming which can address these constraints.

This is why we’re so excited about GES this year. GES really is the preeminent annual gathering of emerging entrepreneurs, investors, and policy makers from all around the world. It’s allowing us this perfect platform to all come together and really dig into this issue, to discuss the challenges facing women entrepreneurs, the barriers, all the while identifying solutions and making the connections we need to globally in order to help these innovators take their ideas to the next level.

MS NAUERT: Okay. Great. Tom.

MR VAJDA: Okay. So good afternoon, everyone, as well. So let me just say I, too, really greatly looking forward to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Hyderabad, India, which we truly believe will underscore the U.S.-India partnership and the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that our two countries share.

The summit was originally announced by President Trump and Indian Prime Minister Modi during the prime minister’s visit to the White House in June. At that time, President Trump stated that, quote, “the relationship between India and the United States has never been stronger, has never been better.” In addition to those 1,200 emerging entrepreneurs, we’ll also have an additional 300 investors and supporters, such as incubator and accelerator representatives, joining from around the world. And the event will create an important platform for entrepreneurs and particularly women to pitch their ideas, build partnerships, secure funding, and find their target customers.

The participants at this year’s GES are truly a diverse and impressive group, coming from all over the world. I’m pleased to note that over 10 countries, including Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, will be represented by all-female delegations. Both the United States and India are firmly committed to promoting entrepreneurship, not just in our own two countries but around the world, because we share the belief that entrepreneurship drives economic growth and creates jobs, establishing a foundation for a more prosperous world.

We are thrilled to partner with India on this endeavor and are looking forward to a successful GES 2017.

[1] GES