By a vote of 129 in favor, 31 against and 9 abstentions, the UN General Asembly Second Committee adopted an Israeli-sponsored resolution on Entrepreneurship for Development in the developing world (7 Dec 2012).
The resolution is designed to advance entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development, and calls for the creation of conditions favorable to entrepreneurs, education, and removing bureaucratic impediments to the establishment of businesses.
This is the first time that the United Nations adopted a resolution on the subject of entrepreneurship as a new means to meet the challenges of poverty and to create growth and jobs. Israel initiated and presented the resolution as the head of a group of almost 100 nations.
Statement by Ambassador Ron Prosor to the UN Economic and Financial Committee (Second Committee)
7 December 2012
Thank you Mr. Chairman,
On behalf of the 97 co-sponsors, I sincerely thank all the delegations who supported this resolution today. I also express my deep appreciation to the delegations that participated constructively in our extensive and transparent negotiations.
The co-sponsors and supporters of this resolution are diverse. They include nations from all corners of the globe, both developing and developed. Their support reflects a growing global awareness that entrepreneurship is a critical driver of development in the new millennium.
Albert Einstein once wrote that "logic may get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere."
Entrepreneurs are dreamers - risk-takers who dare to change the world. They are people like the young woman in Peru who built a recycling plant to turn the piles of waste in Lima's poorest neighborhoods into a source of income. They are the two brothers from India who transformed a small online bookstore into a billion dollar enterprise. They are the recent college graduate in Ethiopia who turned a small sandal workshop on her grandmother's property into a multimillion dollar footwear company.
These are the people who offer developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. No one is in a better position to solve a country's problems than its entrepreneurs.
Today, this Committee is sending a clear and simple message: entrepreneurship is a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth for all.
Entrepreneurship has a ripple effect. By unlocking minds, we can inspire change. Business leaders build teams and instill confidence in their peers. They empower others to pursue their dreams.
Israel, and all the other co-sponsors, hoped for consensus on this resolution. Every country - every country - benefits from empowering its entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, the Arab Group announced that it would vote against this resolution even before the negotiations ended. What a shame.
Few places could benefit from entrepreneurship more than the Arab world. People across the Arab world have risen up precisely because they are looking for change. They are demanding better lives, better economies, and better governance. They are demanding an end to the rampant corruption, discrimination against women, and economic stagnation in their region. But the Arab delegations here today - like their governments - have not responded to these calls. Instead, by voting against this resolution, they have turned their backs on their own people - and tried to turn back the clock on the important work of this committee.
This resolution has the promise to create a better world. It represents hope and progress for people in all corners of the planet - from the highest mountains of Nepal to the lowest valleys of Bolivia, from the sands of the Sahara to the Great Barrier Reef.
Every Arab delegate who voted "no" is sending the message that he cares far more about petty politics than human prosperity. This resolution can bring innovation to those who need it most. It can move humanity forward. And we should not allow certain delegations in this hall to move it backwards.
Israel's experience shows that humans are a country's greatest natural resource. In just six decades, Israel has transitioned from a developing nation to a start-up nation. We have moved from cultivating apples to designing Apple Computers, from harvesting oranges to building Orange mobile phones. We have more start-ups per capita than any nation on the planet. Tel Aviv was even recently named the second most entrepreneurship-friendly city in the world.
These achievements are no accident. They are the result of close collaboration between business and government - and a culture that rewards risk-taking, embraces entrepreneurship, and encourages imagination.
Israel's story shows that if you want stability, empower your people. If you want prosperity, invest in your citizens. And if you want sustainability, engage every member of society - especially women and youth.
This, above all, is the core of our resolution.
I would like to once again thank those countries that have worked with us tirelessly to adopt this resolution. The enthusiasm of so many in this room proves that we all share the same vision, both developing and developed nations, both North and South.
Today's success is far from the end of our collaboration. We must now take the words from the printed page and breathe life into them. It is time that the UN puts business creation and growth at the forefront of its development policies. Regardless of size, every business venture - from a small start-up in the Amazon to the next Amazon.com - must be given the chance to thrive.
The spark of ingenuity exists in every society. All people have the opportunity to turn their dreams into reality; to turn their hopes into change. May this be the moment that the international community fully embraces entrepreneurship, so that people around the world can have a path to create a future they all can be proud of.
A growing consensus on the critical role of entrepreneurship in economic development is emerging. Studies from around the world are consistently linking entrepreneurship with stable, sustainable job creation and GDP growth. But the benefits of encouraging entrepreneurship go beyond pure economics. As individuals become more self]sufficient, and more empowered, they are more likely to seek higher levels of education and better living conditions for themselves and their children. As President Kagame of Rwanda has said: "Entrepreneurship is the surest way for a nation to meet its goals and to develop prosperity for the greatest number of people."
If we are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, we must work towards developing human capital in all countries and societies, and across sectors. Entrepreneurship has the power to help build societies in which people have the confidence, skill and desire to solve problems they see around them. By creating new businesses that provide desired goods and services, or by using entrepreneurial principles to create social ventures, entrepreneurs around the world have a unique ability to find solutions to poverty, improve social conditions, and confront environmental degradation.
Around the world, particularly in developing countries, aspiring entrepreneurs often face overwhelming challenges when starting up their business. This may be because of difficult regulatory frameworks, high administrative burdens, a lack of financial support, or entrenched social barriers.
Governments, civil society, academia and the private sector all have an important role to play in supporting entrepreneurship and enabling people to exercise their talents. A multi-stakeholder approach to promoting entrepreneurship is necessary to prepare future entrepreneurs and leaders to solve more complex, interlinked, and fast-changing problems.