How Entrepreneurs Can Change the World

Global Corporate Venturing LogoAs seen in Global Corporate Venturing, July 2016 issue.

We often talk a good game in Silicon Valley about how entrepreneurship is a global phenomenon.  In the last week of June, we lived it.

Headlined by President Obama, the (GES) drew some of the biggest names in technology together with more than 1,200 entrepreneurs from 170 countries, government leaders and Silicon Valley executives to Stanford University to put a spotlight on expanding entrepreneurship around the globe.

From the start, the call was for championing entrepreneurship to help reduce global tensions and demonstrate a different path for youth living in troubled regions. Secretary of State John Kerry, who opened the seventh annual White House-sponsored summit, made it clear that economic opportunity is directly linked to peace, and economic policy is tied to foreign policy.

We don't often enough connect the bottom line to efforts to make a safer world.  I applaud Kerry's call to action for this next generation of entrepreneurs, and those in the current generation, to support them.

Kerry proposed that the young entrepreneurs focus on three "generational challenges":  creating education tools to excite youth who may be at risk of radicalization, building a low-carbon emissions future and developing software solutions to root out corruption and encourage transparency.

"You may not believe that all of these issues automatically fall within your responsibility, but let me you tell you ... we need your creativity in order to address each and every one of them," Kerry told the entrepreneurs.

"You have a fundamental interest in how these questions are answered," he said. "You want to be able to operate a business without the fear of a terrorist attack. You want to be able to take advantage of the great economic openings in the green energy market. You want to be able to open your enterprises without having to pay a bribe." He called on all of us to join the effort.

I was delighted to see how many corporates are supporting the initiatives being discussed and happy to see that a key focus of the event was not only on youth, but also women.  Discussions at the summit around expanding opportunity for women ranged from how to provide more access to the highest echelons of Silicon Valley to the need for more loans to female entrepreneurs in the Congo.

Silicon Valley Bank released its latest data on women in technology leadership at the event. The annual Innovation Economy Outlook revealed that 66 percent of U.S. startups reported no women on their boards and 46 percent have no women in executive positions.

If we think those doors are hard to open, consider this: Patricia Nzolantima of the Congo called on investors at the GES to support entrepreneurial women in developing nations. She described the process for when women go to the bank in her country, the bank asks whether "they have a house to give to finance" their project. These women don't have houses. "Our dream is to have our own bank, a women's bank," she said.    

In his introduction of Secretary Kerry, Silicon Valley Bank CEO and President Greg Becker shared his thoughts on what makes a successful entrepreneur.

"We have seen some crazy ideas come to life -- so we know a thing or two about success, and about failure," Greg said.  "Over time, we have recognized that partnerships and relationships seem to be what matter most to influence a company's probability of success."

Gatherings like this, which provide a platform for government, corporations, investors and entrepreneurs to come together and share ideas, expertise, support and capital are so valuable for all of us. It really brings home to me that those of us in technology and corporate investments have a global mission and together we can make real change happen.


About the Author

Tracy Isacke is head of the vendor transformation office for Silicon Valley Bank. She and her team are responsible for third-party risk management, as well as building relationships with the bank’s most strategic vendors and partners to provide SVB employees with development opportunities, policy information, training, tools, support and guidance to most effectively support business partners across the organization.

Tracy joined SVB in 2014 to develop key corporate innovation partnerships and programs to connect bank clients to potential partners and investors. Before joining SVB, Tracy was an executive vice president, new business ventures, at Telefónica Digital, where she identified investment opportunities in Silicon Valley, Israel and Europe with the potential to accelerate Telefónica’s business. She also led an international global partner team to deliver unique partnerships and direct-to-bill opportunities for Telefónica across 25 operating businesses in Europe and Latin America.

Tracy started her career at Xerox, rising to be one of the first female members of the UK board of directors. Following her work at Xerox, she spent four years with an early-stage, venture-backed startup that went on to achieve a successful exit.

Born in the UK, Tracy has lived in Italy, Israel and California. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, with her husband and family.