At the seventh White House Global Entrepreneur Summit at Stanford University Thursday morning, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry remarked on the potential of startups to fight extremism by creating strong economic foundations in countries throughout the world.
"Violent extremism and the depth of this challenge is now felt in every corner of this world," he said, addressing the gathering of more than 700 entrepreneurs and 300 funders from across the globe.
That extremism, he said, is underlined by poverty and unstable governments.
Kerry noted the impact of entrepreneurship in Vietnam. A war veteran, Kerry first returned to the country in 1991, when there was no main highway to the capitol, Hanoi, and infrastructure was in shambles. The economic embargo was still in full force.
"Twenty five years later, Vietnam has embraced a raging capitalism. Getting to this point wasn't easy," he said. But "it is exactly this spirit we have to foster support in the rest of the world."
Vietnam also has a largely young population -- the same demographic that violent extremists are exploiting worldwide, he observed.
The Digital and Information Ages have made the world a much more complicated place than when Kerry was younger. Then, there were the Cold War conflicts between two nations, namely the then-Soviet Union and the United States. But now social media makes it possible for extremists to broadcast horror, fear and messages of hate to recruit young people within seconds, 24 hours a day.
"Think of the peril if we leave those minds ... if we leave them to the pickings of the extremists ... and demagogues," he said.
"Entrepreneurship is a rebuttal to extremism," Kerry said, because it provides a framework for jobs, hope and prosperity.
The new global entrepreneurs need to find out how to build infrastructure, grow economies and create new products, but also to take on the enormous problems that the world faces, including climate change, education and government corruption.
For entrepreneurs, poor governance can mean the difference between starting up a business that survives and never getting started at all, he said.
The three-day summit, which began on Wednesday and was scheduled to include an address by President Barack Obama on Friday morning, also focused on improving entrepreneurial opportunities for women, youth and minorities. Just 3 percent of U.S. venture capital-backed startups are led by women, and only about 1 percent are led by African Americans, according to White House statistics. Female entrepreneurs start companies with 50 percent less capital than male entrepreneurs, and only about 4 percent of U.S.-based venture capital investors in the country are women.
A new report released on June 22 by Intel Corporation and Dahlberg Global Development Advisors estimated that an additional $470 to $570 billion in new value for the U.S. technology industry could be generated if people of all ethnic groups are fully represented.
New federal steps to advance inclusive entrepreneurship and to make the innovation economy more accessible include up to $10 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to stimulate conservation technologies on agricultural lands through the Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service; $16 million in Department of Energy funding for promising energy technologies; expansion of the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps program to include a partnership with the National Cancer Institute for expedited advanced cancer research, partnerships with NASA programs for small business, and a partnership with the National Security Agency, which will add I-Corps curriculum to Stanford University's Hacking for Defense pilot program.
The Small Business Administration will also expand its Startup in a Day Initiative to 100 U.S. cities. The program seeks to give entrepreneurs the tools they need to get permits and requirements for a business within 24 hours.
Thirty companies also announced a new Tech Inclusion Pledge to diversify their work forces, including Palo Alto's SAP, Airbnb, Lyft, Pinterest and Spotify.
In a one-on-one session with Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Barack Obama, Uber Technologies CEO Travis Kalanick remarked that old employment models, which were selective in hiring, are being changed by companies such as his.
"The new style that Uber represents is inclusive in that anyone can work. We look at Uber as a safety net for a city" in economic downturns when there are job losses, he said.