During this two-day conference the main topic was the role that entrepreneurship can play in bridging social divides in underdeveloped countries or in countries with sizeable minorities. Especially 'new entrepreneurship', i.e. entrepreneurship with an immigrant background, can play an important role. The main purpose of the conference was to stimulate new entrepreneurship. The Obama administration is convinced that entrepreneurship, and especially social entrepreneurship, can make the world a better place. It leads to more democracy and prosperity and to better integration and participation of minorities in society.
Obama said in his opening speech that he wants to bring together three groups. First, the entrepreneurs, second the financiers and development funds and third the organizations that promote entrepreneurship in their country. In non-Western countries entrepreneurship is often social entrepreneurship, with a much more important role for microfinancing and social investment than in the West. The Obama administration is committed to replacing the many 'free aid programs' with micro-finance programs.
The U.S. government attaches great importance to the conference. Obama took the initiative in his famous 'New Beginning' speech in 2009 in Cairo. Obama himself opened the conference, four members of the government spoke and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hillary Clinton closed the conference. In his opening speech, Obama called entrepreneurship one of the main instruments to help remove the barriers between groups of people, reduce poverty and minimise the existing differences between countries and religions.
Obama also reported that at the invitation of Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, the 2011 Conference will be held in Turkey.
Atilla Aytekin is CEO and co-founder of Triodor Software. Triodor was invited to the conference by the U.S. Embassy as the only participant from the Netherlands. Together with co-founder Umut Akpinar, Aytekin traveled to Washington.
Triodor is a software development company with offices in Amsterdam and Istanbul. Aytekin and Akpinar also form part of the Dutch Dream Foundation, which was created after the publication of the book 'Atilla's Dutch Dream' by Aytekin in 2006. The book tells Aytekin's life story. He was expelled from school because he was the son of an immigrant worker. Against all odds, he graduated as an Economist and is currently a successful entrepreneur. The Dutch Dream Foundation aims to stimulate new entrepreneurship and there can be no better advocate of this than Barack Obama.
Aytekin: "It's very inspiring to attend a speech by Obama in real life. He speaks with passion and conviction and the subject of the conference fits in perfectly with what we propagate as the Dutch Dream Foundation. Entrepreneurship connects people and bridges differences."