GEN, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, Elumelu Foundation Join Forces to Spark Global Entrepreneurship

Citi, EY, GE, Google, IBM and leading African companies join Spark coalition to support entrepreneurs

NAIROBI – July 27, 2015 – An impressive collection of organizations have come together to answer President Barack Obama’s call at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya, to advance entrepreneurship and economic growth around the world.

Representatives of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) participated in a formal signing ceremony at the Summit, committing to lead the Spark Global Entrepreneurship initiative. Spark is a coalition that is seeking to mobilize like-minded organizations, companies and investors that collectively generate more than $1 billion dollars in private investment for emerging entrepreneurs by the end of 2017.

(Left to Right) Jonathan Ortmans, President, Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN); Barack Obama, U.S. President; Tony Elumelu, Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF); Sriram Bharatam, Chairman, Africa Growth Initiative, Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO). (PRNewsFoto/Spark Global Entrepreneurship)

“The world is full of nascent entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas—but they need stronger ecosystems to help them unleash those ideas and grow them into game-changing startups,” said Jonathan Ortmans, president of Global Entrepreneurship Network and one of three Spark coalition co-chairs. “Spark increases coordination and collaboration among startup support programs and amplifies their efforts.”

The first wave of companies that have stepped forward include Citi, EY, GE, Google and IBM. Two African companies, Rendeavour, the continent’s largest urban land developer, and SkyPower, the largest provider of utility-scale solar power projects in the world, have joined as well.

"African entrepreneurship has been the missing link in Africa's development. The actions of just one entrepreneur sends ripples across a community and entrepreneurship lifts people permanently out of poverty and creates social wealth," said Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation. "We all know entrepreneurship, anywhere in the world, is not easy nor is success guaranteed. All stakeholders – the private sector, governments, NGOs and donors - must make a commitment to use their respective powers to address the hurdles facing African entrepreneurs. That is what Spark is all about."

Spark taps into the growing involvement of government programs in helping entrepreneurs start and scale new firms.

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden announced the Spark initiative at the 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco and outlined the commitments of some of the most active and effective U.S. government programs such as the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship, Young African Leaders Initiative, African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and more.

Spark is asking for commitments from organizations and individuals willing to “start the spark” by collaborating and contributing resources, networks, data and ideas to multiply efforts and help founders start and scale new firms.

“We are excited to leverage our in-market presence in nearly 50 countries to support Spark, inspire today’s entrepreneurs and foster the next generation globally,” said Vijay K. Tirathrai, CEO of Entrepreneurs’ Organization. “Our organization provides numerous platforms to bring entrepreneurs together for enhanced learning and leadership growth. Spark is a natural extension of our commitment and we call on others to join us and affect positive change through entrepreneurial support.”

About Spark Global Entrepreneurship

Spark brings together the world’s leading entrepreneurial organizations and support programs under one umbrella—led by its founding sponsors, Global Entrepreneurship Network, Entrepreneurs Organization and the Tony Elumelu Foundation. With a common goal and shared resources, Spark starts a global dialogue on creative new ideas to help entrepreneurs start and scale new enterprises while igniting the next era of innovation and opportunity for the entire world. For more information, follow @StartTheSpark on Twitter or visit

About Tony Elumelu Foundation

The Tony Elumelu Foundation is an African-based, African-funded philanthropic organization, founded in 2010, which is dedicated to transforming the continent through entrepreneurship. Guided by Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, the Foundation’s core programs include the $100 million Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, research and advocacy through the Africapitalism Institute, and the Tony & Awele Elumelu Legacy Prize. For more information, please visit and follow  @TonyElumeluFDN on Twitter.

About Global Entrepreneurship Network

Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) is a year-round platform of programs and initiatives created by the communities that celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week each November. Aimed at creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem, GEN helps people in more than 160 countries unleash their ideas and turn them into promising new ventures—creating jobs, unearthing innovations for society and strengthening economic stability around the world. For details on the programs and initiatives that make up GEN, visit and follow @unleashingideas on Twitter.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a high-quality support network of 14,000+ like-minded leaders across 61 countries. We help entrepreneurs achieve their full potential through the power of life-enhancing connections, shared experiences and collaborative learning.

EO has been helping entrepreneurs achieve transformational growth since 1987. Our member network is committed to learning and helping each other succeed. Gain access to the world’s top experts. Grow beyond your personal limits. Make breakthroughs as you redefine and realize your goals in life and in business.

Today’s EO members employ over four million people worldwide and the network continues to thrive and grow. For more information, visit


Priscilla May D'Souza
Email: [email protected]

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