Interview with Kevin Langley, Chair of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization

“Is entrepreneurship really the answer to the world’s problems?” the New York Times asks Kevin Langley, head of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization? Interesting passage:

A. I traveled to Egypt after the revolution to help some young technology entrepreneurs. I spent three or four days mentoring them and then they took me to Tahrir Square. And this young female entrepreneur walked us right into the middle of Tahrir Square. She told me that her brother had been killed there during the revolution.

This Egyptian woman wants to develop an app, a 911 service for traveling in third world countries. You can use the app to identify and find medical help close to you and it will alert social networks that you have been injured. That one female entrepreneur could create opportunities for hundreds of people in Egypt, which is why the revolution happened.

Q. How so?

A. The Arab Spring was started by a young entrepreneur. The guy who set himself on fire in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, was a young street vendor who had a vision of having multiple fruit carts and had a goal of buying a Toyota pickup truck to haul his fruit carts around. What was lost was his hope.

Q. Wasn’t the Arab Spring also about people in the Middle East being tired of not choosing their own leaders?

A. The point I’m making is that no one talks about the fact that he was someone who aspired to create his own economic opportunity, and because that was limited, he lost all hope.

My own take is somewhat different, though of course I recognize the importance of small business startups for economic development.

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