TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, USA Foreign Trade Ministry and Private Business Representative Lorraine Hariton and Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg made speeches prior to the “Global Entrepreneurship Revolution” and “From Silicon Valley to Istanbul: New Ports for Venture Capital” panels conducted by TOBB as part of the 2nd Global Entrepreneurship Summit.​


Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey

“Turkey will become the entrepreneurship center of our region”

05.12.2011 / İstanbul

TOBB President M. Rifat Hisarcıklıoğlu, USA Foreign Trade Ministry and Private Business Representative Lorraine Hariton and Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg made speeches prior to the “Global Entrepreneurship Revolution” and “From Silicon Valley to Istanbul: New Ports for Venture Capital” panels conducted by TOBB as part of the 2nd Global Entrepreneurship Summit.​


Relating that the first of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit was held in Washington D.C., TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that the environment was not as tumultuous as it is now when Prime Minister suggested that the second summit be held in Istanbul.

- “The entrepreneur middle class has taken to the streets with demands for democracy”

Stating that during the last year he has seen how important global economy and entrepreneurship is important, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Our Prime Minister’s vision has been vindicated. The process of political transformation in the Middle East has been instigated by the employment demands of the Tunisian and Egyptian youth. Taking to the streets and squares, the young entrepreneurs were always on the front lines. The entrepreneurial middle class has taken to the streets with demands for democracy. Because it is impossible to develop entrepreneurship and create employment for millions where there is no democracy.”

“As the late Özal said, we can never relinquish three freedoms,” said the TOBB President and went on, “The freedom for entrepreneurship, for religion and conscience. Therefore these representatives of the entrepreneurial middle class were in the right and they were the forerunners of this transformation. They will be the defenders of entrepreneurship and democracy in their countries tomorrow. Hearts that beat for a fairer society, outspoken and seeking justice have the say today.”

Stating that while these were occurring in the Middle East and North Africa, Europe was having serious problems, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Despite there being a proper infrastructure, there are serious problems in countries like Greece, Italy and Spain. They are discussing how they can lower public debts and overcome the banking crisis. These aren’t reasons, they are results.

The most important point that brought about the downfall of these countries is that there is a lack of entrepreneurs. If they hadn’t forgotten about entrepreneurship, if they could have produced new ideas and stayed competitive, they would not be in the position they are. They are unable to make decisions for the lack of the dynamism of entrepreneurs. They are suffering the consequences of creating a meaningless bureaucracy. Those who construct rigid systems to avoid making mistakes have now realized their real great mistake. Hopefully they have understood that even the worst decision is better than indecision by now.

- “Turkey will become the entrepreneurship center of our region”

Hisarcıklıoğlu said that they view this summit as an important opportunity and therefore have taken on an important initiative with the government in the organization of the Summit.

Emphasizing that these pains are the herald of a new beginning, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “Cards are being dealt anew all over the world. A new order is being established. I think that Turkey’s role is very important in this new order. This new role is a new beginning for Turkey. In this new process, Turkey will become the entrepreneurship center of our region.”

- “Turkey is the transformative power of the region”

Stating that the economic transformation story of Turkey began in 1980, TOBB President said, “With the steps we have taken in the last 30 years, Turkey has successfully transitioned from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. The per capita income of 1980 – 2,063 dollars – has increased to 14,741 dollars. Today we are exporting a total sum of 130 billion dollars to over 200 countries whereas that figure used to be 3 billion dollars. 90% of our exports used to be agricultural goods, now over 90% of our exports are industrial goods.

Turkey is the world’s 17th, Europe’s 6th largest economy. It is the strongest free market economy and private sector between Italy and China. Turkey has important experiences to impart to the countries of the region through its experiences from the last thirty years and its diversified economy. Therefore, Turkey is the transformative power of the region. Turkey and Turkey’s entrepreneurs are ready for this role.

The way to turn this transformation to the benefit of our people is through cooperation and unity of power. It is through knowing each other better. We are working to this end.”

- “We are conducting over 10 projects"

Stating the importance they put on the speech of the USA President Barack Obama in Cairo, Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “In this regard I have taken on the role of Turkey President of the “Partners for a New Beginning” program. It gives us great pleasure to be working with our partners to make a new beginning with our partners to ensure world peace and stability. Secondly, Turkey activities of the Global Entrepreneurship Program, organized by the USA Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are being run by TOBB and TEPAV. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with the USA Embassy to this end.

In this regard, over 10 projects have been started off at the same time. I will talk to you about three of them. First, we decided to help our fast growing entrepreneurs to stand out. For this we started the Turkey 25 Competition in partnership with Harvard University. We have determined the winners. We have presented the 25 fastest growing Turkish companies during the crisis their awards on the first day of the summit.

Second, we have initiated a project to develop venture capital in Turkey and associate it with American funds. To this end, we have organized the venture capital companies operating in Turkey under TOBB. We have begun contacting American fund managers.

Third, we have established the Chamber Academy as TOBB to develop the capacity of commerce and industry chambers, the foundations of entrepreneurship. We hosted 22 high level chamber representatives from 20 Islamic countries and relayed to them our accumulated knowledge and experiences.”

- “We are going exploring”

Stating that they have developed a wide network with PNB and GEP, TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu said, “We have gone local, spread to the four corners of the country right down to including opinion leaders to the process. Until today, we’ve been waiting to ‘be discovered’. From now on we are ‘going exploring’ ourselves, our region and America. We will work together with our partners in this process of exploration. I would like to thank all of our partners who have worked day and night with us.”

- “We have a strong entrepreneurial foundation”

Stating that they are conducting many projects to develop entrepreneurship in Turkey, Hisarcıklıoğlu stated that there is a strong entrepreneurial foundation and that it needs to be developed.

Stating that they have been working in areas where entrepreneurship is weak and supporting those who wish to be entrepreneurs, Hisarcıklıoğlu related how they have established the Women Entrepreneurs Council and Young Entrepreneurs Council to this end.

“All of our efforts are set towards creating a healthy entrepreneurship eco-system in Turkey and our region,” said TOBB President Hisarcıklıoğlu, “Everyone should recognize that if a suitable environment is not created, finding new entrepreneurs is not possible. We are conducting serious work to remove the obstacles to entrepreneurship in Turkey. We have accomplished many of these goals and will continue to do so. I have two requests from entrepreneurs and those wishing to be entrepreneurs while we create an environment suitable for entrepreneurship together with the government as opinion leaders of the private sector: First, invent. Second, bring innovation to the old order.”

- “We must make entrepreneurship a point of pride”

Endeavor CEO Linda Rottenberg stated that there are unfounded myths regarding entrepreneurship and presented her views on these myths:

- Silicon Valley is not always a heaven for innovation. Even now, the ways to maintain the spirit of innovation is being discussed.

- Entrepreneurs in developing countries aren’t just imitating the enterprises in developed countries. They are able to bring radical innovation.

- Women entrepreneurs are also found in this region.

- Not everyone can be an entrepreneur. Many people can be good managers and this is something that is needed.

- Not all entrepreneurs are the same, they don’t all need the same support and they don’t all provide the same results.

- Even the most effective entrepreneurs need help. The most promising entrepreneurs need capital and mentoring.

- However great the dreams of an entrepreneur, they cannot succeed by themselves.

- The best entrepreneurs work not only for money, but to maintain their enterprise.

Rottenberg emphasized the Middle East’s entrepreneurial spirit, “We can recreate the Middle East together. Middle East is the birth place of civilizations and the new birth place of entrepreneurship.”

- “Entrepreneur visits will being in the spring”

USA Foreign Affairs Ministry Commerce and Private Business Representative Lorraine Hariton stated that they have made entrepreneurship one of the main focuses of foreign policy as a ministry.

Touching on activities conducted as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Program, Hariton stated that entrepreneur visits to Turkey would being in the spring, angel investors would start networking, training started and incubators assessed and that a journalism to support entrepreneurship would be fostered.

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