Author: Olivia Daane, Liv Aspen Art
The Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 co-hosted by the governments of the United States and The Netherlands just took place in The Hague from June 3-5 with The Future Now as its central theme. 2000 leaders in global entrepreneurship, with 1200+ hand-picked entrepreneurs and 300+ investors from over 120 countries came together with top policy makers and dignitaries (including Prime Minister of The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, U.S. Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, Queen Maxima and notable panelists like; Master Card CEO, Ajay Banga and Ivanka Trump, corporate sponsors and thought leaders. All gathered together with the common goal to accelerate solutions.
The collective brainpower from the science and tech world was astonishing. Sometimes as an artist, I dream of being an engineer, a strategic thinker, a maker of practical things not just a dreamer of them. With words and paint, I circle the universe of those who can build and change its infrastructure. With art, I can affect how you feel and what you think and see, but not the organic and man-made lenses through which you view it. That is Gods work, if you believe in HIM, HER, IT, as I do, or that of scientists and engineers whom I believe in heartily as well!
It takes a vision to create invention, however, and that is where my invite to the GES19 comes into play. Artists can ground, connect, disrupt and inspire those actual builders of life’s bridges across the practical fields of tech, medicine, agriculture and politics. Thanks to the invite of Merin Rajadurai (former Chairman of the Open Forum now Chief of Staff – Office of Science and Technology advisor to the Secretary) whom I met in Aspen at the Ideas Fest 2018, I attended the GES19 in Den Haague, Netherlands June 3-6, 2019. The concentrated series of pitch sessions and think tanks were held at the World Forum with a splendid opening at the City Hall designed by architect Richard Meier. I was surrounded, embraced and at times completely alienated from the 2000 delegates from around the world. This top rung of entrepreneurs, investors and thinkers met daily to present and discuss solutions within 5 headlining topics: Agriculture/Food, Connectivity/Infrastructure, Energy, Health and Water.
Invited Global Entrepreneurs
Adebola Williams is a Pan-African Entrepreneur and Tutu Fellow, Dean Freestone is a former Fulbright scholar whose company Seer Medical is dedicated to reinventing the way epilepsy is managed, Kenta Yamato, CEO of KAICO, Ltd is using silkworm strains to produce medical-use proteins, Cristal Legrand is using her newly founded Le Grand Voyages management and marketing company to rebuild her island, St. Maarten and strengthen the Caribbean Small Island States (SIDS). These earnest faces and their missions are real; inspiration in action. Meetings were held, pitch mentoring and money from the venture capitalists in attendance was shared and spread in the name of true progress; giving these minds and ideas the funding they need to attain their full impact.
The millions invested were a cheer-worthy result of this gathering, but what most struck me was the staggeringly low numbers of female entrepreneurs and their ceiling on typical investment dollars compared to their male counterparts. There was not a line at the ladies room the entire event. No joke. However, the U.S. Government did announce substantial commitments to drive women’s economic empowerment in developing markets. Ivanka Trump and Ajay Banga of Mastercard engaged in the closing panel both with poise and an eloquent conversation on the importance of facilitating micro financing for women, especially in developing countries. They both lauded The Netherlands Queen Maxima, a well-known proponent in this realm beyond her famed royal forest Haagse Bos. Kinga Stanislawska, founder of Experior Venture Fund, spoke and was on hand to give advice to women entrepreneurs to get to the next level of investment capital. The facts show when women are given funding, we give straight to the health and growth of our families and communities making those monies go further for the good of the whole and progress across disciplines. Sorry guys but you just don’t do the same. That is not to say we do not need every bit of your engagement in this process of our growth as an entrepreneurial force and beyond. This whole summits focus was about preserving and fostering diversity and working together for change because the future IS now. Take for example Christina York, CEO of Spellbound, who won the GIST Grand Champion prize for her work in using AR and VR within hospitals’ existing technology to improve patient cooperation, reducing the stress, trauma and resistance to treatment in pediatric patients(she plans on growing this company to serve all ages). With Spellbound’s technology in place, a child can experience a treatment before it happens to avoid the need for sedation if panicking during a procedure. A grim hospital setting can be turned into a soothing paradise.
I met so many brilliant minds such as; Sohaib Jamali, who has forged ahead with a well-informed economics daily in Pakistan and Crispin Russell whose company ArcAqua commercializes the use of ozone as a method of sanitation. The accomplishments around me were staggering. Google, Amazon and PayPal and the governments of the US and Netherlands hosted these bright minds providing flights, lodging, organized matchmaking think tanks, lunches, juice bars, transportation and a parting banquet with live entertainment befitting Henry VIII. Even our “schwag bags” were filled with top notch gifts. All this went down in the Hague along the North Sea. The Dutch are known for being ahead of the curve with innovative living and pragmatic thinking. Stroll down the Lang Voorhout, predecessor to the Champs-Elysees, have a grasshopper burger from the startup Cricket One in residence ImpactCity and visit Humanity Hub, work spaces committed to peace, justice and humanitarian action, and then there’s Scheveningen Beach which served as backdrop to the closing banquet with its own skate, kite and surf scene (wetsuits recommended).
Making a Difference in our World
Many of us at the start of this gathering voiced how we weren’t quite sure how we got there or what was expected of us. By our last day, it was clear, we are expected to take these inspirational interactions and funds, cross pollinate our ideas and work our tails off to make a difference in OUR world of so many faces, colors, creeds and climates. I am jumping in, artist foot forward, with a collaboration with Willemijn Wortelboer of Raw Paint which produces high quality and earth-friendly paint powder as we connect the dots of an aerial view butterfly representing individual homes and business across the globe. Each dot will locate an individual who is making a difference, each painting a roof (the white roof project) or wall with Willemijn’s water efficient and waste free RAW paint. Clean water is on a trajectory to be gone by 2050. We are determined to do our part. The butterfly effect continues. This planet does not belong to us, but we to it. Do what you can and win your own personal tug of war with whatever inertia it is that keeps you waiting. Get out of your comfort zone and avoid just preaching choir to choir. Seek out your least expected collaborator, ask advice from someone furthest from your mindset and familiar, safe boundaries. Or just go for that thing you have been dying to attempt but are scared to try. Our energy is our currency. And my money’s on you.
The Butterfly Effect
If you are interested in hearing more about my butterfly effect project or ways to get involved and get private and public funding for your own breakthrough idea please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.