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The Next Jobs for Our Global Economy

Donna Harris

Cofounder & Co-CEO, 1776

I remember the day when my family moved to Detroit. We crossed the Ambassador Bridge from Canada into our new life not knowing what it would hold. In the coming months we settled in, made new friends, learned that saying “eh?” wasn’t cool and discovered that Americans didn’t see hockey as a religion.

We also learned that the auto industry drove the entire economy in and around Detroit — nearly everyone around us worked for an auto company or supplier. Over the years we watched as General Motor’s market share dropped from nearly 50% down to the mid-20’s causing friends and loved ones to lose their jobs without new ones to land in.  The Michigan economy was decimated.

As this was unfolding, I had the opportunity to visit Cite Soleil in Haiti, one of the poorest, most dangerous areas of the Western world and one of the biggest slums in the Northern Hemisphere. Everywhere I looked there were children and young people, dirty and emaciated, living in scavenged metal and cardboard houses. If ever there was a place with no jobs, this was it.

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The irony was not lost on me that in one of the world’s wealthiest nations and in one of the poorest, the lack of jobs was stagnating local economies and was often a core cause of heart-breaking human suffering. So, when the Kauffman Foundation started releasing studies proving the link between entrepreneurship and job creation, it validated what I had already witnessed to be true. And it set me on a path, with Startup America and now at 1776, to make sure that everyone, everywhere has a chance to start and scale a company.

After five years, I wish I could say we’re done. We’re not. In fact, the challenge is even greater than I imagined. I was stunned to learn that the world’s economy will need to create nearly 280 million new jobs by the end of 2019 to make up for those lost during the last recession and to give our world’s young people work. That’s more than the entire population of every single country in the world except the US, China or India! We have a lot of work to do. And, if that data is true, 70-90% of this work will need to be done by our world’s entrepreneurs.

This is why it’s critical that every single person reading this piece take one single action:  Go here and sign this petition.

And, if you’re game, share it with your network and ask everyone you know to sign it and share it.

Why?

In September, the United Nations will be deciding its priorities for the coming decades.  And this matters because these priorities will heavily influence the actions and policies of nearly every single country in the world. We cannot create the jobs our world needs if entrepreneurship is not a key focus of these priorities. In fancy terms, it’s called Goal 8 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In simple terms, it means empowering entrepreneurs around the world, and helping them succeed and create jobs.

Entrepreneurship has become a truly global activity and it’s the single biggest lever we have to pull to drive economic growth. Through my work at 1776, Startup America and as a board member of the Global Entrepreneurship Network, I’ve seen glimpses of our world’s future. It’s being created every single day by people like Grant Brooke of Twiga Foods in Nairobi, Lina Khalifeh of SheFighter in Amman, and Rose Broome of HandUp in San Francisco. Smart people building high-growth startups that will create the jobs we need for the future.

Unfortunately our world is operating at only 52% of its entrepreneurial capacity today.  Imagine if the United Nations made it a priority to insist on better conditions for entrepreneurs across the globe, getting them the access to capital, talent, technology and markets they need to grow. That’s the world I want my son to grow up in.

So, sign it. Share it. And get busy building it. Together, entrepreneurs can change the world.

Donna Harris

Cofounder & Co-CEO, 1776

Donna is cofounder and co-CEO of 1776, a global incubator and seed fund that works to accelerate innovation to solve complex challenges. Under her leadership 1776 has grown from a…

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