US Launches Effort to Support Muslim Entrepreneurs Around the World

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This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The Obama administration has launched the first in a series of projects to support entrepreneurs in Muslim communities worldwide. The Global Entrepreneurship Program will provide advice and other help for businesses to succeed.

Partnerships between public and private organizations aim to assist with everything from securing financing to writing a business plan.

The first project is being launched in Egypt.  A second project in Indonesia is expected to follow soon.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked about the programs at a Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship.

HILLARY CLINTON: "Now these initiatives comprise a first wave of programs to promote global entrepreneurship. But they reflect the Obama administration's commitment to a new approach to development -- one based on investment, not aid. On supporting local leadership and ideas, rather than imposing our own."

More than two hundred fifty people attended the two-day summit meeting held in Washington in late April. Most were from majority Muslim countries.

President Obama promised to hold a summit on entrepreneurship in his speech to the Islamic world last June in Cairo. He says the business market is the most powerful force for economic growth and lifting people out of poverty. He also says entrepreneurship is an area where countries can learn from each other.

Tim Kane is with the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation, a nonprofit in the United States that works to increase entrepreneurship worldwide. He says the World Bank has found that simpler rules and other regulatory reforms make it easier to do business in the Middle East.

TIM KANE: "One of the things the World Bank measured was how long it takes to start a business. Typical Middle Eastern country in two thousand four was forty-two days.  You have an idea, have to file a bunch of paperwork -- ten forms, forty-two days.  Nowadays the average company in the Middle East takes twenty-one days to start a business.  In Saudi Arabia it takes five days. So, it's things like that where they can learn from each other about how to get more efficient, how to help entrepreneurs get off the ground."

The Global Entrepreneurship Program in Egypt will create several partnerships between American and Egyptian groups. These include the Egyptian Junior Business Association and the American University in Cairo. The United States Agency for International Development has a team of entrepreneurs in Egypt to supervise the program.

The Obama administration plans to expand the program to twelve countries within the next two years.

And that's the VOA Special English Development Report, written by June Simms, with additional reporting by Meredith Buel. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts are at voaspecialenglish.com. We're also on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes at VOA Learning English. I'm Steve Ember.

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