Israel, now famously known as the Start-Up Nation, is renowned for its remarkable spirit of entrepreneurship.
Much space has been dedicated to detailing how Israel produces more start-ups per capita than any nation on the planet, how Israel has the third highest number of companies on the NASDAQ, surpassed only by America and China and how Tel Aviv was named the second most entrepreneurship-friendly city in the world.
But that is only half the story...
Israel is not only reaping the benefits of a strong and growing entrepreneurial spirit at home, but is striving to share this spirit with the world. Israel is encouraging other nations to support entrepreneurship for economic growth and is highlighting its crucial role for achieving sustainable development.
As Ron Prosor, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations stated three weeks ago, "Entrepreneurship is the key to unlocking the challenges of the 21st century. It should be a central focus of the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda."
Consequently, Israel is looking to harness its entrepreneurial spirit for international development and demonstrate how entrepreneurship can be used to tackle the world's most pressing development challenges; making the transition from the Start-up Nation to the Development Start-Up Nation. To such ends, in December 2012, the United Nations approved an Israeli initiated resolution on "Entrepreneurship for Development". The resolution was designed to encourage countries to support entrepreneurs as a means of advancing growth and prosperity in the developing world.
The resolution, initiated, authored and submitted by Israel to the UN General Assembly marked a significant turning point and itself constituted a historic landmark for the UN body. Firstly, the resolution was innovative in and of itself. General Assembly resolutions usually clarify policies which countries are then to adopt and implement. In this case, however, the resolution reflected a bottom up process. The resolution was based upon existing activities undertaken by Israel, through MASHAV - Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, in using entrepreneurship for development and then shared with the world.
Secondly, the resolution marked the first time in the UN's history, that the General Assembly recognised the need to promote a culture of entrepreneurship in the developing world as a means of advancing economic growth, eradicating poverty and encouraging human development. The resolution called on developing nations to support entrepreneurship through numerous measures. For example, through improved regulatory environments, the strengthening of domestic financial institutions and policy initiatives that promote entrepreneurship and encourage talented people, including women and youth, to put their ideas into action.
Finally, the resolution also marked a further shift in the UN's development approach, away from the provision of aid and towards empowerment, towards a greater investment in human capital.
As a follow up to the resolution, an event on "Entrepreneurship for Development" was held at the UN on 26th June 2013. The conference was co-hosted by the Israeli Mission to the UN and the President of the General Assembly and addressed how entrepreneurship can help move developing countries from poverty to prosperity, using Israel's remarkable success as a model.
The conference featured entrepreneurs from around the world and representatives from an incredible range of countries. It also shone a spotlight on Israeli innovation and ingenuity as a model for poverty eradication and financial growth. The event was divided into an opening segment and then three panels: one on entrepreneurship for development; the second on entrepreneurship education and the third on entrepreneurship as a tool for empowerment.
Entrepreneurship has vast potential to contribute to the attainment of sustainable development and to change the world. The realisation of such potential, however, is heavily dependent upon commitment from governments and effective investment in human capital.
As we look to the future, MASHAV is committed to continuing its investment in human capital and to sharing Israel's expertise and great spirit of entrepreneurship with the world. To date, in cooperation with the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) of the Organisation of American States, MASHAV has reached over 22,500 beneficiaries in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, training them in entrepreneurship.
The State of Israel, through MASHAV, is striving to encourage and empower a new generation across the devleoping world to push the boundaries, to see new possibilities, and to find solutions to this century's most pressing challenges, to move the developing world from poverty to prosperity.
See the UN webcasts of the event below:
Danielle Abraham is currently a Policy Advisor to the Director of Policy Planning and External Relations of MASHAV, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.