Text Only

Entrepreneurs Bring Change to World

18 July 2008
Wood report - Download (MP3) audio clip
Wood report - Listen (MP3) audio clip
Entrepreneur Overview report / Broadband - Download (WM) video clip
Entrepreneur Overview report / Broadband - Watch (WM) video clip

Traditionally, entrepreneurs bring innovation and change to the world in their quest to find new ways to turn a profit.  Today, modern technology, looser government controls and better access to capital make it even easier for entrepreneurs to succeed.   VOA's economics correspondent Barry Wood looks at entrepreneurship worldwide, profiling business risk-takers in Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Asia and Russia. (Part 1 of 5)

The original French word entrepreneur refers to someone who undertakes, who does something. Entrepreneurs assume business risk or bring a new product, service or idea to market.

Their innovations sometimes change the world. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile, but his assembly line revolutionized manufacturing and made cars affordable for the average worker.

Bill Gates (file photo)
Bill Gates (file photo)
Bill Gates is perhaps the world's best known entrepreneur. He did not invent personal computers, but his operating system made them easy to use and brought the new technology to millions.

Journalism professor Wendell Cochran of American University says the Internet, with its capacity to instantaneously convey information around the world, is an extraordinary platform for entrepreneurs.
"Google became a verb almost 24 hours after it became a thing," said Cochran.  "So, [the Internet] is incredibly entrepreneurial."
Thirteen years ago, San Francisco entrepreneur Craig Newmark created an online bulletin board for the brokerage firm where he worked. Today his Craig's List is a free alternative to the classified ads that have been a major source of earnings for newspapers.

Craig Newmark
Craig Newmark, of Craig's List
"Right now we're in about 55 countries, 567 cities across the world," explained Newmark. Some analysts say Craig's List is having the same effect on newspapers that Ford's car had on the horse and wagon.

Since the collapse of communism, entrepreneurs have taken off in places where they were once forbidden, including Russia.
Yana Yakovleva is the financial director of a Moscow company that manufactures silicone.   

Despite new freedoms, she says, government bureaucracy still makes it hard to be an entrepreneur. "A bureaucrat scores a point for each court case he initiates or for every company he closes, and this improves his job performance evaluation," she noted.

In Venezuela, currency exchange controls and a leadership hostile to free markets make it difficult to do business. Caracas food distributor Santiago Alvarez complains that government bureaucrats are unhelpful.

"Getting all the permits to start a business is a real challenge," explained Alvarez. "You have to face tremendous amounts of bureaucracy from a lot of different entities, in order to get permits and to get financing."

But, as always, entrepreneurs are highly motivated and frequently prevail against the odds.  They raise funds by borrowing from relatives, tapping into village cooperatives or, getting loans from a bank.   And they learn how to cope with onerous bureaucracy to bring their ideas to the marketplace. 

emailme.gif E-mail This Article
printerfriendly.gif Print Version

  Related Stories
Entrepreneurs Share Courage, Other Common Traits
Micro Loans Foster Entrepreurship in Poor Countries
Government Policies Can Help or Hinder Entrepreneurs
Business Schools Strive to Produce Entrepreneurs
  Top Story
Obama Begins First Presidential Trip to Asia  Audio Clip Available

  More Stories
US Army Charges Alleged Fort Hood Shooter with Premeditated Murder
Obama Promises Strategy, Clear Mission, Public Support For Troops  Audio Clip Available
Kremlin Calls for Sweeping Modernization of Russia  Audio Clip Available
Union Says Zimbabwe Farm Workers Worst Abused Sector in Past 10 Years  Video clip available
Obama to Hold Jobs Summit in December   Audio Clip Available  Video clip available
Reports: US Ambassador to Kabul Expresses Caution About More Troops  Audio Clip Available
APEC Ministers say Economic Recovery Fragile  Audio Clip Available
Clinton Vows Support for Philippine Typhoon  Recovery, Anti-Terrorism Fight  Audio Clip Available
US Leaders May Interact With Burmese at Singapore Summit  Audio Clip Available
N. Korea Says South Will Pay 'Expensive Price' for Naval Clash
China Rejects Human Rights Watch Report on Black Jails
Thasksin Delivers Speech in Phnom Penh
Sri Lanka Military Chief Resigns  Audio Clip Available
As Alleged Fort Hood Shooter Recovers, New Questions Arise  Video clip available
Pakistan Seeks Role in US-Afghan Policy
Obama's Middle East Strategy Stalls
Zimbabwe Land Seizures Reportedly Intensify  Audio Clip Available
First Recorded Dengue Fever Epidemic Hits Cape Verde  Audio Clip Available
Paisley, Swift Winners at CMA Awards  Audio Clip Available