The Brandeis University International Business School today is recognizing the work of Linda Rottenberg, who founded a non-profit called Endeavor that has won global praise for mentoring entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Rottenberg is receiving the 2009 Asper Award for Global Entrepreneurship, a prize named for Leonard J. Asper, the Canadian media magnate. The title of Rottenberg's acceptance address suggests the tenor of her approach to the challenges of building businesses in Third-world economies: "Global Crisis? Opportunity for Entrepreneurs!"
Rottenberg frequently makes it onto lists of "Young Leaders to Watch," acknowledging the impact of her non-profit Endeavor. She formed the organization in 1997 to support the development of "high-impact entrepreneurs" in emerging markets. The model uses private-sector mentors to work with promising entrepreneurs. She began her work in Latin America, focusing initially on Chile and Argentina, and expanding to Colombia, Mexico and beyond this hemisphere, to countries including Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and India.
Endeavor says it has screened 18,000 candidates in selecting 400 emerging-market entrepreneurs, who in turn have generated more than 90,000 jobs and reported 2.5 billion in revenues in 2007. She went to Harvard and then to Yale Law School. The paperback edition of Thomas Friedman’s "The World is Flat" has a new chapter on Rottenberg, and calls Endeavor “the best anti-poverty program of all.”
UPDATE: In the text of her remarks at Brandeis today, Rottenberg -- who grew up in Newton -- told the business school students in her audience that it may turn out to be very lucky for them that the financial climate has turned so sour. For one thing, it may encourage them to go another route than Goldman Sachs or Boston Consulting Group.
She suggested that the MBAs she works with may not have gotten rich but they have earned "psychic equity," worth "priceless personal satisfaction and fulfillment."
"Well, today in a world where bonuses are under siege and the stock market is at its lowest point in over a decade, that psychic equity is looking even better! Hey, it doesn’t devalue! (And as my husband pointed out while watching the AIG imbroglio, bonuses paid in psychic equity can’t be clawed back!)"
"Through this financial crisis, certain doors have been closed on, or rather for, you – and that’s a GREAT thing." Rottenberg declared. "I’ve always believed too many options were a distraction – I hated the mantra that was sold to me throughout undergrad and grad school, to “always keep your options open....”
"I would encourage you to look around and start asking questions: Where’s the need, the gap, the pain point? What’s currently being overlooked by both the government and the private sector? Where’s the opportunity to bridge a gap?"
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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