The Global Entrepreneurship Summit is a prestigious event which brings together global entrepreneurs, leaders and investors together and promote collaborations to address various socio-economic challenges humans are facing today. Jointly hosted by the US State Department and the Foreign Ministry of the Kingdom of Netherlands, the summit brought together around 2,000 entrepreneurs and investors this year in the beautiful city of Hague to explore solutions and innovations in the fields of water, energy, health and connectivity.

Among the two thousand distinguished individuals invited, six Bangladeshis were chosen to represent their innovation and ideas and secure collaborations to catalyse their work’s current impact. Being chosen among the six to represent Bangladesh at this summit was an incredible honour; an exciting opportunity to be able to meet new people and their ideas which were changing the world.

We, the six Bangladeshis, left for Hague on June 03. Right after arrival we rushed to attend the reception hosted by Michael Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands at Town Hall in the Centrum area of the city. The reception was the first-time delegates were able to interact their ideas, each sharing their ideas and work which truly were both commendable and inspiring. It was an opportunity to meet people who were designing gadgets that improved volunteer communication during a natural disaster, developing powerful micro-sensors to monitor water quality in real time and so many more. Innovation was brimming at this event, and it was an incredible opportunity to learn from these brilliant minds.

The summit was officially inaugurated by Queen Maxima of the Kingdom of Netherlands. She expressed her dedication in working with the entrepreneurs in bringing sustainable changes and investment towards the fields of water, energy, health and connectivity. Distinguished speakers– US Secretary of Transport Elaine Chao and Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Sigrid Kaag– expressed their devotion in bringing disruption in the sectors they were involved in.

The summit was designed to create a networking atmosphere for all entrepreneurs and investors present. A series of seminars, workshops and connection cafes were created to increase engagement among everyone involved. Representatives from renowned multinational companies such as CocaCola, Unilever, Microsoft and Google were present at the event.

The last day of the summit was attended by Ivanka Trump, lead advisor of the president of the United States, who conducted a  chat session with Mastercard CEO Ajaypal Singh. The session was truly an inspiring one, where both individuals expressed the importance of investing in women which would make businesses and ideas more productive and profitable at the same time. They shared their experience of working together in Africa, especially in Ivory Coast, where many women who depended on donations have turned into entrepreneurs with scalable business models.

As someone who has been involved in the NGO world  whole life, attending a summit of this sort was both an eye-opening and tremendous learning experience, where getting to know the work we were doing back home had so much more potential to create substantial change in our socio-economic environment, especially through the connections made at this summit.

The Global Entrepreneruship Summit has been a remarkable adventure filled with making good friends and experiences, ready to be utilised in creating impact wherever we are in the world. An advice to anyone attending such summits would be this: Be open to the idea of collaboration and bringing innovative ideas to your own shores. Adapting mindset to embrace any ideas, related or unrelated to your field, is a personal investment in creating the change you want to see in the world.

Shah Rafayat Chowdhury is a social entrepreneur and co-founder and president of Footsteps Bangladesh, a social development enterprise. He was one of the six Bangladeshis chosen to represent at Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2019 and was also nominated as one of the 16 young global leaders by the European Commission in 2018.

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