Friday, November 5, 2010

World Entrepreneurship Forum 2010: a visual update of day 1

So day one is behind. Where to start? I'm tired and would like to sleep but at the same time I feel there's so much to blog about, so here we go. Though do allow me to give a more graphical update of today's events rather than a more verbose one.  It's around 2:30 AM now and we have an early kick-off tomorrow morning: a bus will be picking us up at 7:30 AM and take us to the EMLYON Business School.

We've just come back from a spectacular gala evening at a fancy concert hall in Lyon. But before I get to the gala event, here's how they day unfolded as a pictoresque photo essay in a chronological order. The day started with some key talks and a panel conversation. Check YouTube for a video of the start of the day. One of my favorite quotes from the morning session was one from Leonardo Da Vinci referred to by Patrick Molle, the President of the EMLYON Business School: "Every constraint is a gift."

They're making us work hard here: we've had to fill in many forms asking our thoughts on what we feel are the key challenges for 2050 in terms of bringing social and economic justice. Here's a soundbite from me (by the way, it's supposed to say 'planet' as opposed to 'plane').

Having lunch with the Pakistani Professor Iqbal M. Khan from Lahore School of Economics, Raul Juste Lores, a Brazilian journalist covering the event for Folha and the founder or Latin America's first social networking website (apparently it was the same format as LinkedIn but ended up going bust due to lack of investors), Fernando Moncayo Castillo. Mr. Khan invited me over to attend a conference in his School of Economics in Lahore and I said I'd be more than happy to do so. I do have a good friend of mine living in Karachi who is having a fabulous time there so Pakistan is definitely on my list.

After the lunch it was time for the break-out sessions. I put my name down for 'Developing Entrepreneurship at the Bottom of the Pyramid' (there are four main key themes around the vision for 2050, this being one of them). The format was a workshop where us attendees were going to get hands-on with some critical challenges.

We were divided into groups and given tasks to do. The gentleman on the right (picture below) is Dr. Muhammad Ibrahim, Founder and Chairman of the Centre for Mass Education in Science. He happens to be the brother of a certain Nobel Peace Prize winner from Bangladesh: Muhammad Yunus one of the arguably biggest role models for social entrepreneurs.

Then it was time to kick-back. Yes finally. It had been a tough day. But the show had to go on: it was time for the gala event.

I got an invitation to take part in the World Entrepreneurship Forum thanks to my membership in the Euclid Network. So here's some PR back for my friends at Euclid ;)

One of the main perks at being at the event has been to meet some top notch people. I had earlier heard some rumors of an upcoming star politician from Cameroon taking part in the Forum. Well, the rumors were true: in the picture below is myself with Kah Walla, one of the presidential candidates for Cameroon's elections next year. Best of luck for her campaign. She's certainly a great personality.

After some interesting talks from the likes of Sir Fazle H. Abed (see above), it was time for the awards. By now it's become a tradition that the World Entrepreneurship Forum gives four annual awards on the following four categories: the best social entrepreneur, best entrepreneur, best politician and best academic. The award for the best social entrepreneur went to the Indian Ela R. Bhatt.

The best entrepreneur was the legendary Chinese businessman Liu Chuan-Zhi.

Kah Walla presented the award for the best politician: France's first (I believe) female Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, who received her award via a video connection from Paris. Apparently she couldn't make it to the event as she was busy entertaining the Chinese premier who was visiting France.

To find out more about the winners, please read the latest news from the Forum's website. On other interesting developments, we heard the announcement that next year's World Entrepreneurship Forum would be held in Singapore. A Singaporean parliamentarian was there to formally sign a contract with the World Entrepreneurship Forum to host the event. Nanyang Technological University will be one of the hosts.

After the official ceremonies were over it was time for the attendees to enjoy a performance by Barbara Hendricks. Yes, she was there to sing for us some of the production by Schumann. I don't have a picture to share as we were under strict guidelines on not to take any shots while she was singing.

After her performance was over it was time for the dinner. It took us all by a surprise that the dinner was set up behind the stage. The curtains were pulled up and a beautiful decor with some really fancy light architectural design was in front of us. The evening was amazingly orchestrated and we were all very impressed with the attention to detail and professionalism on behalf of the organizers. It was just a real pleasure to take part in this event.

Here I am enjoying my dinner with some great company: Malini Sen, an editor focusing on education at The Times of India, and Gintaras Kručkas, CEO of MTTC in Lithuania.

If you'd like to learn more on what was actually said, I recommend checking out the EMLYON Business School's YouTube channel as fresh content is constantly posted there. Tomorrow I'll be again Twittering via my Finntastico profile. I recommend tuning into #WEntrepreneurshipF which is the official hashtag for the Forum.

As far as I'm aware, everything is webcasted online live too, so welcome over to the Forum to build a better world for 2050!

Signing off...good night!

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