Mary Grove is the Director of Google for Entrepreneurs’ and in her closing speech at last week’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit she shed light on four key trends that are having a major impact on the world. 

From Gaza in Palestine to Herat, Afghanistan, from New Delhi, India to Nashville, Tennessee, from Seoul, South Korea to Baghdad, Iraq, entrepreneurship is alive and well and thriving all over the world, but it doesn’t always take the form you might expect.

During her closing speech, Mary Grove talked about her trip to Afghanistan, where she met a young woman named Roya Mahboob who runs a company called Afghan Citadel Software. She employed a large number of women alongside men. Roya had been doing transformative work to train and educate women in her country and in 2013 she was named by Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world.

But when Roya returned home she was met with threats, criticism and tremendous opposition. It was a difficult time for her, but she persevered. She expanded her programme and now aims to train 5,000 women in Afghanistan so that they can have a better future and become entrepreneurs. Roya now lives in New York City and runs an organisation called the Digital Citizen Fund, which will help make her mission global. 

“To me,” said Mary, “this demonstrates the power of entrepreneurship. It is about freedom, development and creating a better future despite overwhelmingly difficult odds. And it is inspirational entrepreneurs like Roya who are changing the world.”

Touching upon a better future leads to the four trends Google for Entrepreneurs have discovered through their work that’s changing the world today:

  • The tipping point is here: By 2020, 90 per cent of people over six years of age will have a phone or direct access to one. Two key facts are embedded in this – the first is that our world is more connected than ever before and second is that our world’s population is getting younger. More than 50 per cent of people in the world are under age 30. Take Kano for example, a start-up whose mission is to empower a new generation to make and play with technology rather than just consume it. They do this with computer encoding kits designed for kids of all ages.
  • New forms of education are changing the game: Education is making it possible to learn entrepreneurial and technical skills faster than ever before. Digital platforms like Udacity, Galvanize and Coalition for Queens allow the users to learn the skills themselves. YouTube allows the user to be the creator and have access to a global audience, while 500 start-ups helps to refine a user’s skills and scale. Platforms like these mean that budding entrepreneurs can start anywhere and don’t need to move to Silicon Valley to become successful.
  • Diverse teams lead to better outcomes. This could mean different things in different parts of the word: race, ethnicity, socio-economic status. Companies should work hard to invite under-represented minority groups into existing networks. If we look at Gaza as an example, it has 1.8 million people, 96 per cent of whom are literate. 65 per cent of the population is aged 30 or younger, and 41 per cent in total are unemployed. What we have here is a large youth population full of tenacity and grit that doesn’t want to let geography constrain their innovation. 
  • Physical space is paramount to building start-ups and start-up communities. In our hyper-connected online world, nothing can replace the physical connections offline. Co-working is on the rise, 33 per cent of global co-working spaces are less than a year old. Today, there are 7,000 spaces globally. Physical spaces like these create a home base for the start-up community. Take Eyetease for example – a start-up in London responsible for one of the largest deployment of taxi-top digital adverts. After moving into Campus London they were able to increase their revenue by 100 times without having to scale their costs and overhead. This was down to the physical space they were in, which provided them with access to mentorship and investors and more. This is the power of co-working.

To watch this video, including Mary’s interview with Sergey Brin – co-founder of Google – visit the Global Entrepreneurship Summit YouTube channel

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