Two events happened this week that, together, have got me fired up.
Firstly, I watched an aspiring Olympian make a collection in a busy cafe on Swan Street, on the outskirts of Melbourne.
The young athlete simply presented his case — he had qualified for his chosen sport but did not have the financial resources to cover flights (etc) — and my fellow coffee drinkers unquestioningly forked out fistfuls of change.
Sure, he was handsome, well-spoken, physically capable of doing things once thought humanly impossible. But, at the same time, I had to ask myself, to what extent does Australia truly stand to benefit from the physical accomplishments of this man?
Secondly, that same morning, I received a thoughtful request for assistance from two young entrepreneurs.
You may not know this but starting Saturday, 1 June 2012, this year’s G20 will be kicking off in Mexico. As a separate and independent adjunct to this gathering of political big-wigs is the G20 YES Summit — a gathering of young entrepreneurs to discuss the policy and regulatory changes needed to foster entrepreneurship in the G20 countries, outside the restrictions of government.
Over 400 young entrepreneurs from around the world will be converging for the G20 YES summit.
They realise that governments are often the least capable at fostering innovation and creating environments to encourage entrepreneurship and the development of new industries. They realise that, more often than not, big leaps forward are initiated by passionate individuals.
Furthermore, one of the more important topics of this year’s G20 Summit is youth employment, an issue faced in Mexico, Spain and many other G20 countries. Part of the G20 YES delegation’s objectives is to give this topic a relevant voice.
So, how much support has this year’s Australian delegation received?
If we’re talking about government backing, the answer is a not-so-sweet zero. And private attempts to raise funding have been almost equally unsuccessful.
Why are we so reluctant to support entrepreneurs?
The logical answer is because we assume that entrepreneurs are rich, and can fund themselves.
For established industry leaders, this might be the case. But, for young entrepreneurs, often just getting the bills paid on time can be a struggle.
Furthermore, running a business is extremely time consuming. And staff depend on their focus. If a business owner drops the ball, employees lose their jobs.
Entrepreneurs often get a dud rap. Yet, you and I know, we play an essential role in job and new industry creation.
There is a second perception that assisting a delegate is tantamount to spending money on someone else’s junket.
Once again, taking focus off a business, even temporarily, to consider ‘global issues’ is a big, big undertaking. It is not a decision to be made lightly. And, furthermore, there is no ROI. To make this clear to the layman, there is no financial gain for attendance.
Sure, attendees may (hopefully) make some helpful contacts. But, don’t forget, spreading our entrepreneurial influence helps everyone!
So, I asked Jeremy Liddle, who is organising Australia’s delegation, how easy or hard it has been to attract delegates? Australia has 15 slots to fill. He has struggled to find 14 delegates. And that shouldn’t be surprising.
While the stakes are so high, the rewards are so low.
Plus, there are no entrepreneurial mothers participating
For the reasons above, only a certain type of entrepreneur may ever contemplate participating in such a delegation. And it shouldn’t surprise you that these young entrepreneurs are generally unmarried and childless.
They are either in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey (and can get away before the pressure heats up) or are at the latter stages (enjoying the life of Tim Ferris, spending only token hours to keep the cogs turning).
In neither of those situations are you likely to find a mum (or a dad) able to spend $10k on travel and a week abroad.
This lack of diversity saddened me even more than the lack of government support (or even government awareness, for that matter) and it’s not for the reasons that you might expect (as a new dad, my own ‘travel allowance’ has been curtailed heavily). It’s because parents should logically have a say on topics such as a young entrepreneurship and youth employment.
A sportsman can throw his stick further than normal, measured in yards and metres.
An entrepreneur can throw his influence further than most, measured in economies improved, industries created and lives changed for the better. I know which sport I think deserves more backing.
So, to help out just one delegate, I’ve devised a cunning plan.
During the preparation of this article, it occurred to me that I do not have the clout to help every delegate.
I have learned from experience (the hard way) that if I try to help everyone, I will help no-one.
If you are able to assist Jeremy find more delegates, please do so (by reaching out here). If you know of anyone at Qantas or Virgin or another airline that might be able to put together a cheap or free airfare package, once again, I implore you to contact Jeremy.
But, if direct altruism is not your thing but you would still like to throw your weight behind a good thing, I have devised (with some help) an entrepreneurial, commercially focused plan to assist just one delegate (while also giving you bang for your buck).
The second entrepreneur to reach out to me was Stephanie Vilner, a mother, an entrepreneur and someone I know from personal experience is able to get sh#t done. She is a natural ‘connector’ and often forces new business on people, often without them even knowing!
In my eyes, she seemed ideal to represent Australia and play a role in the development of G20 YES’s aspirations to become part of global policy direction. As Stephanie pointed out to me earlier today on the telephone, G20 2014 will be taking place in Australia.
Is G20 2014 even on Australia’s national entrepreneurial agenda?
Come to the Anthill G20 ‘Get Sh#t Done’ Action Workshop
I appreciate that asking strangers to financially back strangers is a big ask.
So, instead, I have devised the following, cunning plan. Would you be willing to spend $50 or $100 on an event instead?
The G20 YES Summit is taking place on 1 to 6 June 2012. Stephanie will have returned to Australia by mid June.
As of 11am this morning, Stephanie has agreed to help Anthill host a workshop and networking shin-dig in mid July, so that she may share the outcomes of the conference with like-minded, passionate and proactive business builders and start building momentum for 2014.
Would you like to be part of Australia’s national entrepreneurial agenda? Would you like to help influence the global state of play?
By using the form below and registering to attend this event, you will be helping support an Australian delegate (proceeds will help pay for Stephanie’s trip) and you will score yourself a ticket to a fascinating discussion and workshop.
You will be joining a movement at the ground level in a bid to make our political leaders sit up and notice the role, influence and importance of fostering a culture of innovation today and in the lead up to G20 2014 in Australia.
So, are you with me! If so, register for Anthill’s G20 ‘Get Sh#t Done’ networking event and workshop.