What is Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Your comprehensive guide to the global start-up extravaganza

With 2014 set to be the biggest year ever for the world’s leading entrepreneurship festival, budding entrepreneurs everywhere are gearing up for Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Now with almost eight million people set to be involved including the likes of Richard Branson, GEW has become one of the events of the year for start-ups and businesspeople all over the world, with activities available in a huge range of locations.

If you’ve been living under a rock and this is the first you’ve heard of GEW, never fear – below, we have put together all you need to know about this major event.

What is Global Entrepreneurship Week?

Billed as the “world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship”, Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) is a worldwide series of events designed to help people explore their potential as entrepreneurs. With activities available in a huge range of locations across the UK and internationally, more than 300,000 people are expected to get involved in this country alone.

Now celebrated across 125 countries, GEW is a truly massive affair – 24,008 partner organisations are expected to deliver more than 30,000 activities, events and competitions across the week. Overall, 7.43 million people will get involved in some capacity between the 17th and 23rd of November.

With such widespread participation, it’s no wonder many of the world’s leading business figures are expected to be involved yet again. Previous world-renowned entrepreneurs who have participated in GEW activities include Virgin CEO Richard Branson, Dell Computers founder Michael Dell, Nobel Peace Prize winner and ‘bank for the poor’ Grameen Bank founder Muhammad Yunus, and Foursquare’s founder Dennis Crowley.

Each participating country will designate a ‘host organisation’ to run their national version of GEW, organising events and galvanising interest and momentum in the initiative. In the UK, the initiative is being run by Youth Business International (YBI), who also host the week in 10 other countries – offering excellent global links for the UK.

Where does Global Entrepreneurship Week come from?

Whilst it is a truly global event nowadays, GEW started life right here in the UK, launched in 2004 as Enterprise UK’s Entrepreneurship Week. Originally a government-backed campaign to connect youth, women, homeworkers and ethnic minorities to enterprise opportunities, Enterprise Week’s ambit went global in 2007 when Global Entrepreneurship Week was launched for the first time.

Representatives from 37 countries were present when the inaugural GEW was launched by then-prime minister Gordon Brown and Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation. Within a year, this had more than doubled to 77 countries, with 3 million people taking part, and had reached more than 100 within three years.

Why is Global Entrepreneurship Week so important for business?

Start-ups and entrepreneurs are billed as the future of the UK economy, and rightly so, with recent figures showing a whopping 68% of new jobs were generated by fast-growth small firms – despite representing just 1% of the UK business population.

However, this is only the beginning, and people remain reluctant on the whole to take the plunge – GEW’s figures show that whilst more than half of the population would like to start their own business, less than 5% actually do.

GEW is intended to give more people the skills and confidence to start out by themselves through its programme of events and activities, increasing participation and benefitting the UK economy as a whole.

And if last year’s event was anything to go by, GEW 2014 looks set to deliver on this aim. 2013’s event saw 600 partner organisations hosting over 6,000 events across the UK, reaching a third of a million people in the process; of these, almost 80% said they felt more confident about starting or growing a business afterwards.

You can follow the events of Global Entrepreneurship Week right here on Startups as they happen, and find events taking place near you on the GEW website.

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