Experience the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit with the U.S. Youth Observer to the UN

In this blog, I want to bring you behind the scenes of the 2019 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES 2019) in the Netherlands. This summit demonstrated how entrepreneurs of all ages are working to improve the world through innovation. In the photo above, 2,000 world leaders are featured from more than 130 countries. We all came together for this three day summit with the goal to promote entrepreneurship and contribute to major global challenges.

See the highlight video of the GES 2019 and hear the customized GES song.

Before we get too far into the summit details, I have to share a quick story of my journey from Salt Lake City to The Hague. After three hours of sleep, I woke up at 2 a.m. to prepare to race the Utah Valley Marathon. I paced the 3 hour 40 minute group, raced home to shower, and arrived at the airport just in time to board the plane. None of this would have been possible without the help of my supportive wife Eliza. I’m grateful for her patience as I walked slowly through the airport terminals, and I appreciated her constant reminders to stretch on the 10 hour flight.

The GES 2019 kicked off with a presentation from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte. Both emphasized the importance of learning how to learn. “60% of the jobs European students will find at graduation do not yet exist.” This is why it’s important to develop good behavioral skills like problem solving and teamwork.

With The Future Now as the overarching theme, GES 2019 featured solutions to global challenges in the following sectors: Food, Connectivity, Energy, Health, and Water with exciting  topics such as 5G, advanced manufacturing, and artificial intelligence. It was truly inspiring to participate in these workshops and witness the collaboration between investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers in creating the next wave of innovation.

If you’re interested in seeing the GES 2019 in action, check out the GESTV video library for more than 100 videos of highlights, full panels, elevator pitches, and behind the scenes coverage.

My favorite part of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit was hearing from all the innovative entrepreneurs. The photo above features the co-founders of Sugar Fam. Eyenalem and Joni found discovered a business opportunity after Eyenalem was diagnosed with diabetes. Now they are spreading the entrepreneurial mindset across Europe by making colored covers for insulin pumps to make diabetes more fashionable.

I would also like to give a shout out to the youngest entrepreneurs at GES 2019, Ayan and Razi. At the age of 15, they developed a device to help improve the lives of disabled people in Azerbaijan. Learn more about their story in this short video.

I am grateful for the emphasis the GES 2019 placed on women empowerment–resulting in over 35% female entrepreneurs, 3 theme sessions and a Women Power Lunch. On the final day of the Summit, we were joined by Ivanka Trump who shared several initiatives to bridge the gender gap in the future workforce.

The United States Agency for International Development announced the second WomenConnect Challenge ($1.5 million), an initiative launched by Ivanka Trump, aiming to empower women and girls to access and use digital technology. She closed the session by reminding us that “Investing in women is just smart business.”

Catch the full conversation here.

In our spare time, Eliza and I enjoyed exploring the beautiful city of The Hague. One of our favorite adventures involved biking to the Peace Palace to learn more about the United Nations role in global justice. We learned that the first peace flame in the Netherlands was placed beside the entrance gates to the Peace Palace in April 2002.

It was such a great experience to be able to visit the sales and marketing students at Rotterdam Business School. We had a great discussion on the sustainable development goals and the importance of public-private partnerships. Our conversation took an interesting turn as some students believed the sole purpose of business is to generate profits.

I shared my experience from a recent FB Live with the founder of Cotopaxi, Davis Smith, to highlight a local example of an organization that generates profits while also contributing to social good.

Cotopaxi’s creed is to Do Good. “From our giving model to our company culture and sustainable product design, we see our business as a vehicle to make an impact. As a certified B Corporation, we put 1% of our profits toward addressing poverty and supporting community development. Through our grant program, we promote organizations successfully improving the human condition. To date, we’ve awarded 42 grants in six focus countries.”

This intimate interaction to discuss the students’ goals was one of the highlights of my time in the Netherlands.

Before returning to the United States to attend the UNA-USA Global Leadership Summit 2019 in Washington D.C., Eliza and I ventured out to experience the Dutch culture. The students at Rotterdam University were helpful in recommending authentic Dutch foods. To this day, Eliza still talks about the warm, chewy, and delicious stroopwafels we were able to try at Market Hall just outside the university.

At the 2019 Global Leadership Summit in Washington D.C., I had the chance to recap my year as youth observer while discussing opportunities I’ve had to talk with UN leaders and other youth leaders from around the globe. Some of the themes we’ve discussed this year include human rights, food insecurity, quality education, human trafficking, religious freedom, youth political participation, social good, entrepreneurship, decent work, sustainable communities and much more.

I also had a chance to share an excerpt from a research paper I wrote in high school about why it’s critical we continue to fund the important work of the UN. “The United Nations has been a key factor in peace…we have not had a World War III because the UN has worked to advance peace and security.”

Join the conversation on social media @USYouthObserver

We concluded the first day of the GLS 2019 with a touching film screening of Love Sonia. The film tells the story of two sisters who are sold into human trafficking by their debt-ridden father. Many tears, emotions, and applause were shared during this film screening, and I was deeply inspired by the important discussion that followed from the film director and cast members.

The International Labor Organization estimates that 21 million people are victims of forced labor globally. As the oldest of six brothers and sisters, I was even more shocked to learn that children constitute one third of this number. Learn more about the sings of human trafficking and hotlines you use to get help in my blog: World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

On the first two days of the Global Leadership Summit, 500 advocates from all 50 states attended workshops to improve their advocacy skills and learn from world leaders about how the UN is combating global challenges. At the conclusion of such an amazing week, these inspiring UNA-USA advocates held 322 Congressional meetings to urge their elected officials to fully fund the U.S.’s dues to the UN and support a strong U.S.-UN partnership.

Relive the experience by viewing the photos here.

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