Turkey’s commercial capital Istanbul hosted a meeting of international entrepreneurs between April 16 to 19. The Global Entrepreneurship Network’s (GEN) annual congress was attended by nearly 400 speakers from around the world, including academics, politicians, businesspeople, and representatives of global organizations such as the World Bank and OECD.
On the sidelines of the congress, whose theme is “Building One Global Ecosystem,” side events such as panels and workshops were also held. Experts discussed a host of topics such as the digital economy, startups, agriculture, blockchain, transportation, and women in business. “The GEN operates a platform of projects and programs in 170 countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business,” according to its officials.
The congress started with an exclusive Startup Nations Ministerial followed by GEN Annual Meeting and about 200 different sessions on topics related to innovation, startups, policy and entrepreneurship.
The congress is hosted by the Economy Ministry, the Turkish Exporters Assembly, entrepreneurship associations Endeavor Turkey and Habitat. Previous congresses of the group were held in the U.S., U.A.E., China, the U.K., Brazil, Russia, Italy, Colombia and South Africa.
Turkey would provide considerable support to entrepreneurs as “huge targets” needed “huge reforms”, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said while Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Istanbul, he mentioned that the new airport in Istanbul and Turkey’s first indigenous car projects highlighted the country’s strong sense of entrepreneurship. “This airport was built by five entrepreneurs who were encouraged by the Turkish government,” he said. The airport, which is expected to open this year, has the potential to welcome 90 million passengers annually. Following the second phase of construction, expected to be completed in 2023, this number will rise to 150-250 million, said Erdogan.
The airport’s auction was won by a consortium of five contractors: Limak, Kolin, Cengiz, Mapa and Kalyon. He touched on the indigenous car project which will be produced by another consortium — Anadolu Group, BMC, Turkcell, Kiraca and Zorlu. “The spirit of the entrepreneurship is not ordinary. We will be able to produce our own planes like the indigenous car. Ideals come true with dreams!” he said.
Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci stressed that financing can always be found but to find entrepreneurs was the true challenge. “Economy is a game of which the rules are changing day by day, and we can move on the road with research and development, and design centers,” he stressed. He added that through Turkey’s new project-based incentive, 23 projects from 19 firms were given 135 billion Turkish liras ($32.6 billion). Zeybekci added that new incentive-based organizations would be created until the end of the year in order to contribute to the reduction of Turkey’s current deficit.
“We invite entrepreneurs from all around the world to invest in Turkey,” he said.
Ali Sabanci, chairman of Pegasus Airlines, said entrepreneurship raised economic and social welfare. “But entrepreneurship cannot work without an ecosystem that includes the public and private sectors,” he added. Several countries and cities compete to become the center of entrepreneurship and Istanbul has an opportunity to claim that distinction. “Istanbul has access to a huge market and people can reach the capitals of 59 countries in 4 hours or less,” he underlined. Further, in GEC (2018), A Pakistani startup named ‘Her Ground’, which was also part of the delegation representing Pakistan, won two awards 1) Outstanding Women Entrepreneur Award 2) Third Place Finalist in GIST Tech-I competition during GIST Long Format Pitching Session.
GEN in partnership with Startup Genome also launched Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) 2018 which answers questions like: What technology sub-sectors hold the most promise for economic growth? How much local networking should startup founders do in their ecosystem? Which ecosystems are leading the way in Fintech?
On 3rd day of Global Entrepreneurship Congress, GEN Compass Awards Ceremony and Dinner was organized in which GEN Affiliates were conferred awards in different categories. GEN awarded top honors to South Africa and Colombia, and recognized individuals and organizations from more than 42 countries for their outstanding effort and commitment to starting and scaling new ventures and supporting entrepreneurship in their countries. GEN Affiliates received awards in following categories: GEN Country of the Year (South Africa), GEW Campaign of the Year (Colombia), Brand + Digital Champions (South Africa), GEN Rookie of the Year (Uzbekistan), Champion Catalyzers – Most GEW Events (Algeria), Champion Catalyzers – Most GEW Events Per Capita (Bermuda), Champion Catalyzers – Most GEW Partners (United States), Champion Catalyzers – Most GEW Partners Per Capita (Bermuda), Most Promising Startup (Hippogriff AB, Sweden).