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Obama Pushes Minority Entrepreneurship and Tech

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In the past few weeks entrepreneurship has been a blazing hot topic. Between Bob Johnson's article on opportunities and obstacles minority small businesses face and the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship late last week it has been keeping those passionate about entrepreneurship at the edge of their seats. Just in case you are late to the party I'll sum up what the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship was about. Essentially the Obama Administration is pushing extremely hard for minority entrepreneurship here in the states (specifically Muslim minorities), so much so that they took it global and invited 250+ participants from several different countries to a 2 day summit in DC to talk about challenges and how those minority entrepreneurs can thrive -- let me clarify that -- how they can thrive as entrepreneurs in the U.S.

This initiative is no doubt an effort to spark the economy, entrepreneurs will play an important role in helping the global and domestic economy rebound. We will create more jobs, spark innovation, and a whole lot of other cool stuff. In Obama's speech at the summit it was definitely apparent where he thinks the focus should be, on emerging technologies which of course include Internet businesses as well. He went as far as to include Jerry Yang (Yahoo) in his speech. Additionally, Craig Newmark (Craigslist) was also on hand at the summit.

While the speech was only a brief 16 minutes (you can view the whole thing here) the message was clear and focused; he is pushing for a new era of entrepreneurship that includes diverse businesses and innovation, two of my favorite things. I think the President was dead on and we are preparing to step-up to the plate and hopefully work with his administration to push for innovative businesses from minority entrepreneurs who are right here in the United States, not overseas. In fact NewME was conceived with this problem in mind specifically.


You may remember a little story that was quite popular a few months ago regarding the lack of minorities employed in Silicon Valley. The numbers were shocking to many simply because we are living in the year 2010, not 1960 -- not to mention the fact that the data actually reflected a decline in minority employment in the Valley over time. While I don't have any data I'm sure similar numbers as it relates to entrepreneurship are equally, if not more, disappointing.

I want to avoid having this same discussion 10 years from now. I want for leaders in emerging technologies to represent the beautiful and colorful landscape that America is. Yes we have to have adoption in our communities but let's not get tunnel vision here; we have to have creators as well. Just glancing at what is going on in the broadband arena you'll see the focus is on adoption and not creation, a topic that we've discussed time and again here with great passion. The summit spawned clear action items, plans, and programs to ensure the Muslim community is inclusive in being creators of innovative technologies; some of which include exchange programs, mentoring, and incubators. We need those same programs here domestically in our communities that are under-represented and under-served.

That said, President Obama and the many people in his administration who have been involved in this entrepreneurship effort have laid the global blueprint. Let's follow their lead and make sure minorities are inclusive in being creators of innovative technologies domestically.

In an interview at the summit with GOOD Craig Newmark brought 2 great quotes up by William Gibson, one of which sums up perfectly the state of diversity in technology: "The future is already here -- it's just unequally distributed."

While in the next day or so we'll be meeting with entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policy makers at the NewME (New Media Entrepreneurship) Conference to start the process, we hope to walk away with an action plan to really make a difference. I hope you all join in on the suggestions and ideas here.

What do you think it will take to make minority entrepreneurship in technology more than just a thought?

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