Shirley Griffith with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about entrepreneurs and the
problems they face starting businesses around the world.
"Entrepreneur" is a French word that
means someone who does something. An entrepreneur is someone who attempts to organize
resources in new and more valuable ways and accepts full responsibility for the
Entrepreneurs bring a new
product, service or idea to market. For
more than a century, entrepreneurs have changed the world. American Bill Gates is perhaps the world's
best-known entrepreneur. He did not
invent personal computers. But his
operating system made computers easy to use.
It also brought the new technology to millions of people around the
Cochran is a journalism professor at American University in Washington,
D.C. He says the Internet is a very
helpful tool for entrepreneurs. That is
because it provides information to anyone, anywhere.
Newmark is an example of another American entrepreneur. Thirteen years ago, Mister Newmark created
an Internet message service for the investment company where he worked. Today, his web site, Craig's List, has users
in more than five hundred fifty hundred cities and fifty countries. They can buy and sell goods, find a job or a
place to live.
technology has made it easier for entrepreneurs around the world to
succeed. However, they still have
problems getting money to start businesses and deal with government
restrictions in many countries. In
Venezuela, for example, monetary exchange controls and a leadership hostile to
free markets make it difficult to do business.
Santiago Alvarez is a businessman in Caracas. He says it is difficult to get all the permits necessary to start
India, Sunil Mittal overcame different problems to build a successful
telecommunications company. He says the
end of central economic planning by the country's government helped his company
SUNIL MITTAL: "With thirty, thirty-five million dollars that I
could access, we went on to built India's second largest telecom company."
Bharti Airtel has thirty thousand employees.
The Bharti Group has become India's second largest corporation.
Brent Goldfarb is a
business professor at the University of Maryland. He says all kinds of people work to become entrepreneurs. However, he says most entrepreneurs do not
get rich. Most earn less than if they
were working for someone else. That was
true for Pakistani entrepreneur Ashar Hafeez. He opened his first Tandoori restaurant in
Islamabad in nineteen ninety-three. He
has advice for other entrepreneurs: "You have to work very hard. And you cannot do it alone. You have to have a very good team with
In Iraqi Kurdistan, Suhela
Kakil Raza is a mother of four. She began making women's clothes about a
year ago. But there were problems
finding a place to open her store in her city, Irbil. She had to find an area in Irbil where men did not go. This would permit Sunni Muslim women to come
out and buy her products. Now, Suhela
Kakil Raza has four employees and she wants to expand. She says she dreams of having a factory. She would also like to operate a school to
train her female workers.
In South Africa, Mthuli
Ncube is the director of the entrepreneurship institute at
the University of the Vitwatersrand. He says the African continent does not have
enough entrepreneurs who are prepared to take risks. However, the most successful black entrepreneur in South Africa,
Richard Maponya, has been taking risks for a long time to build
successful businesses. Now in his
eighties, Mister Maponya recently opened a huge shopping center in Soweto, near
the city of Johannesburg.
Donald Trump is one of
America's most successful property developers.
He says entrepreneurs must think big and take action. He says they also must study new
information, learn to negotiate and enjoy competition.
In many developing countries,
small loans are known as micro-credit or micro-financing. They have helped entrepreneurs get the money
they need to start a business. Special
attention is now being given to female entrepreneurs. They have had to beat many cultural barriers to get
In Bangladesh, the Grameen
Bank lends small amounts of money, mainly to women. And almost all of these small business loans are repaid. Grameen was the first bank in the developing
world to lend money to poor people who wanted to be entrepreneurs. Muhammad Yunus started the Grameen
Bank. He and the bank won the Nobel
Peace Prize in two thousand six.
Grameen's micro-financing has
expanded the idea of entrepreneurship to many people. For them, entrepreneurship is about raising chickens and cows or
making clothes to help feed their families.
For example, Margaret Okoth sells food at a market in
Nairobi, Kenya. She is using
low-interest micro-loans from an organization in her village.
MARGARET OKOTH: "[The cooperative] has
recently increased its limit so that you can borrow eighty thousand [shillings]. And if you take out that big a loan you'll really see your business
Margaret Okoth's area at the
market was destroyed in violence after the Kenyan election. But loans permitted her to rebuild. The money also helped her balance her
business with her other job, as a wife and mother of twelve children.
Now, large lenders like the
World Bank are supporting the ideas of the Grameen Bank in discussions with
developing countries. Dahlia Khalifa is a business expert at the World Bank's International Finance
Corporation. She says getting the
necessary financing is the biggest barrier for female entrepreneurs in African
countries. But she says discrimination
against women goes even further. In
many places, women are not permitted to sign an agreement or to represent
themselves in court.
Many countries have policies
that make it hard for entrepreneurs to start businesses. In Russia, for example, people often have
to make secret payments to government officials to influence their decisions on
business permits. Other entrepreneurs
say they have to deal with government processes that are slow and
Alexei Protsky has a chemical
company. He says he has to deal with
unnecessary rules and reporting requirements.
He says dealing with too much paperwork means a loss of time and
reduction in productivity for his company.
Every year, the World Bank
rates countries on the ease of starting a business. The Bank examines the processes involved in getting permits,
getting credit, paying taxes and enforcing agreements. World Bank specialist Dahlia Khalifa says
some governments are reforming and changing their business laws. The World Bank said Egypt was the top
reformer last year, followed by Croatia, Ghana, Macedonia and Georgia. The bank says Egypt reduced the amount of
money needed to start a business. Egypt
also eased rules that used to delay building permits.
Schools and universities around
the world are teaching entrepreneurship.
For example, in China and India, thousands of people are attending
graduate schools of business where entrepreneurship is taught.
Such programs in the
developing world are influenced by those in the United States. At some American universities, business
students are required to start a business before they complete their study
Elaine Allen teaches
entrepreneurship at Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She says she meets with groups of college
students before they learn about financial rules. The groups are given two thousand dollars and told to start a
At the end of the year, she
says, almost all of them make a profit.
Often the profits are as much as fifty or sixty thousand dollars. They donate this money to non-profit
organizations. These students are on
their way to becoming entrepreneurs of the future.
This program was written by
Barry Wood and adapted by Shelley Gollust.
Our producer was Mario Ritter.
I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Barbara Klein. You can download audio and read scripts on
our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.
Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.