GIEE teamed with Participant Media (An Inconvenient Truth, Charlie Wilson’s War, Fast Food Nation, The Help, Lincoln) and Fox Searchlight Pictures to design, host, and produce a Global Summit Series on Senior & Multi-Generational Entrepreneurship in 2015. The Summits took place in Dublin, London, Washington, DC, New York City, Brussels, Phoenix, St. Louis, Sydney, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, and Santiago, Chile. In each city, we invited 25 leaders, representing a cross sector of action-oriented experts from government, banking, microfinance, business, education, foundations, non-profits and public policy. They worked collectively to build a Blueprint for Action to catalyze research, programs, and policies to advance senior and multi-generational entrepreneurship within the workplace and new business startups.
The summits included pre-release screenings of Participant Media’s film, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which explores the issues faced by retirees and older workers and highlights the young and young-at-heart supporting each other to create transformative social and economic change.
These summits were far from your typical thought leader convenings where experts gather around a table and congratulate one another on their brilliance. These were action-oriented, driven by out-of-the-box thinking to identify new strategies to support and empower the Experienced Economy, such as:
Our convenings were extremely well received for their innovative format and unique cross-sector approach. Attendees began to see the 50+ demographic as a cohert as an asset and embraced. Vibrant discussion highlighted the Experienced Economy’s un-recognized success and contributions to the economy through job creation, new business start-ups and their unusually high level of success, and overall increased profitability for companies with multi-generational teams.
Damien English - Minister for Skills, Research & Innovation, Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation, Ireland
“I’m delighted to hear that this global summit series on senior entrepreneurship launches in Dublin before continuing on to other cities around the world and I want to extend my best regards and wish you all a fruitful and enjoyable discussion. We are proud of the entrepreneurial talent that is currently flourishing in Ireland, but I firmly believe that there remains untapped potential among various cohorts, including seniors. With the median age of the population in Ireland expected to rise significantly in coming decades, older people will be a valuable resource for entrepreneurship in terms of both experience and knowledge. So it is important that we engage more seniors in both business creation themselves, but also through investing in or mentoring new and existing entrepreneurs.”
Consideration of the Experienced Economy as a unique lending group, deserving of specific consideration in lending that accounts for the maturity and seasoning of people 50+:
John Irwin - EVP of Strategy and Enablement, AIB Bank, Dublin -AIB is the largest funding source for entrepreneurs in Ireland
"I have never participated in a business conference like this before. You have changed the way I am thinking about strategy - I had not considered segmenting the opportunity the way you proposed - a funding source for entrepreneurs 50+ starting a business."
Chris Wade, Entrepreneur, Advisor to Global Venture Funds - London, England
“The landscape for Entrepreneurship in the UK is transforming as venture capital funds continue to grow. In 2015 Entrepreneurship is increasingly including all age groups, including innovation from The Experienced Economy, a new sector identified by eProvStudio & Senior Entrepreneurship Works."
Google - eProvStudio launched its first ever workshop in partnership with Google at its London Campus. Google has a keen interest in addressing the needs of the 50+ entrepreneur in its programming. The workshop drew people of all ages but especially 50+ year olds about to retire or who had been made redundant who wanted to figure out what their next opportunities might be - and the workshop became one of the top 10 Trending Voices on the campus.
Sue Lawton, Special Advisor All Party Parliamentary Group Women & Enterprise, Global Advisor WEConnect International - London, England
“The 50+ demographic, The Experienced Economy, is an overlooked demographic that can no longer be ignored in business – It is a key group generating jobs, positively impacting the bottom line, and redefining the culture for work and traditional retirement across all generations."
A contribution that ignited particular enthusiasm in London that we shared with members of Congress in Washington, DC and the EU Commissioners in Brussels, came from Yvonne Sonsino, Partner, Innovation Leader Europe, Mercer, where she sited an example of increased profitability due to intergenerational teams in the workplace: "The 50+ demographic must be recognized for their contributions to our economy - A simple example: McDonald’s reports 20 per cent higher performance in their outlets where 60+ workers are employed as part of a multi-generational workforce. Similar benefits are reported by employers from all sectors and sizes."
This Summit was hosted by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and you can hear and see Senator Chris Dodd's welcome and comments in this video:
Nora Super, Director, The White House 2015 Conference on Aging, Washington, DC
Delivered welcome remarks stressing the importance of this focus on an "experienced economy" and the need to create greater opportunity through policy changes. She is hosting the White House Conference on Aging, July 2015.
Senator Susan Collins, Chair of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, shared remarks - Washington, DC
"I was very pleased to be part of the first joint committee hearing on Senior Entrepreneurship with the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in February 2014 and to be able to participate in this first global summit series on senior entrepreneurship. Our nation's heritage as the land of opportunity, owes much to the hard work, energy, and optimism of those who take the risk to start up businesses of their own. Through their successes they help to create a better life for themselves, and to create jobs for others. The role played by America's small businesses in creating jobs and opportunities is well-known, but the role played by America's seniors may still come as a surprise to many. Our hearing and this summit are vital to help increase public awareness of the critical and growing role senior entrepreneurs are playing in the economy. I love Elizabeth Isele's characterization of the changing demographics as being a silver lining rather than a silver tsunami, and I hope she doesn't mind if I start using it. "
Senator Claire McCaskill, Ranking Member of the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, shared - Washington, DC:
“There isn’t any age limit on entrepreneurial dreams and success. Some of the most dynamic, innovative businesses started in Missouri in the past decade have been built by seniors. And we need these older entrepreneurs to succeed if we’re going to continue making economic headway in my state and across the nation. I’d like to think that in my work-life I’ve shown the younger crowd a thing or two, and I know many of today’s senior entrepreneurs are doing the same.”
Christian Weller, PhD, Center for American Progress and Professor of Public Policy, Washington, DC
Encouraged a greater diversity of research studies to better understand why certain people are likely to become entrepreneurs after retirement. "More research, he said, "would encourage greater numbers of people to start new companies."
James Appleby, Executive Director and CEO: Gerontological Society of America, Washington, DC
Supports more cross-silo conversations to amplify the voices and solutions for an aging workforce.
Shauneequa Owusu - Director of Policy for the New York Academy of Medicine delivered welcome remarks to the audience. This organization is highly focused on creating programs and plans to make NYC a role model for successful innovation for people 50+. They are a co-creator of the Age Smart program with the Columbia University Center for Aging – this program honors companies who support a Multi-Generational workforce with emphasis on appreciating the Experienced Economy workers in the organization.
Yesi Morillo-Gual - Senior VP, Citi, and Founder, PTBL (Proud to Be Latina) - Driving force behind building diversity at Citi and confidence in minorities, while managing multi-million dollar municipal funds, said the summit has, "given me new eyes to see 50+ year-olds and a multi-generational workforce in a whole new and positive light."
Edward Rogoff, PhD – Baruch College, active advocate, award-winning entrepreneurship professor, writer, and researcher for entrepreneurs 50+ commented, "there are some educational efforts for the sector but so much more needs to be created and offered to older adults to break the fear factor and deliver knowledge in order for them to become successful entrepreneurs."
Jessica Walker – Director, Partnership for the City of New York: The Partnership is a force for driving programs to enhance the economic vitality for people living in NYC. A focus on people 50+ is important to this organization.
Michael Morretti – Vice President – Head of NY Silicon Valley Bank: We discussed the mention by the AIB executive in Ireland and challenged Mike to consider banking and access to capital opportunities for people in the sector.
Stefani Zinerman – City Council Chief of Staff – Believes the discussion about 50+ in the workforce and entrepreneurial aspects are critical for job creation and wealth creation.
Ruth Finkelstein, Sc.D – Key to NYC city receiving the Age Friendly City Award from the WHO, Ruth is also the architect of the Age Smart program, Professor at Columbia University and Deputy Director of the Robert N. Butler Longevity Center at Columbia University. She spoke about the NY Age Smart program, which highlights businesses – small and larger companies - that create opportunities for 50+ year-olds in their workforce.
The Brussels' discussion was particularly lively for two reasons because attendees were seriously engaged in developing programs and plans to serve this sector for the EU Parliament.
Marko Curavic- Head of Entrepreneurship and Social Economy for the EU Commission, Brussels
Curavic said, "The real point is that we are all living longer and better and healthier lives, and the concept of retiring to a sort of eternal vacation – or the idea of being deemed to be ‘taking a job from a younger person’ – is an idea from a time gone past. More and more, seniors are seeking renewed purpose, have ideas they want to bring to life and are looking to retirement as a time of new opportunity and (he emphasized) fun!
These are some of the reasons that the European Commission has been targeting senior entrepreneurs, and senior mentors for new entrepreneurs, as important groups to help rekindle the spirit of entrepreneurship across Europe. Our Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan, which was adopted about 2 years ago by our 28 Member States, specifically mentions senior entrepreneurs as one of the groups who are often overlooked."
Madonna Jarrett- Head of Global Regulatory and Public Policy Group, Deloitte. Madonna Jarrett leads global external stakeholder engagement programmes for Deloitte. She is responsible for public policy strategic planning, programme implementation and engaging with external stakeholders on capital market policy development. She leads initiatives seeking ways to create opportunity for people 50+ in the workforce.
Jon Echanove - Project Team Leader for the EU's Senior Entrepreneurship "Labs."
Jon said, "the "labs" currently being launched across the 28 EU member states, are to advance senior entrepreneurship by finding out more about what they want and need, what their questions and worries are, and how we can reach and support them effectively. We expect the "labs" will very valuable insights and experience for us all."
Natasa Nikolic- Head of Marketing and Business Development for EY Natasa is creating opportunities in EMEA focused on women; based on successful programs that EY has been conducting for Winning Women; These programs are "age agnostic" and are inclusive of people 50+ related to educational, role model and access to capital opportunities.
Natasa said, "This summit has convinced me that the 50+ entrepreneur represents a sector that needs more focus and attention."
Guido de Grefte- Managing Partner HazelHeartwood, Mechelen, Belgium.
Guido is a serial entrepreneur and Vice President of the Board of the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Belgium and the author of a children's book on doing business. HazelHeartwood, one of his businesses, is a consulting company built upon optimizing the "experienced economy" by coupling the professional expertise of senior consultants with the extensive field experience of senior business leaders (assets) to create transformative business projects. HazelHeartwood has been nominated for the European Social Innovation Competition. It was selected out of 1.258 candidates as one of the most innovative and promising projects to generate social innovation in Europe.
Moira Allan - Co-Founder and International Coordinator, Pass it On Network: A Global Program Exchange for Positive Aging
Originally from South Africa, Moira has lived and worked in Paris for the last 35 years. Since 2006, she has followed the work of the Positive Aging movement in the U.S. and coordinated the 2Young2Retire network in Europe with its French counterpart – Le Cercle des Seniors Actifs. – the association that conceived the Pass it On Network with Jan Hively in the USA.
Moira sees the Pass It On Network as an ideal vehicle to carry the message and lessons learned about senior and intergenerational entrepreneurship and positive aging at this summit, to the far reaches of the world encompassed in their global network.
Apostulos Loakimidis - Policy Officer (Entrepreneurship 2020 Cooperatives, Mutuals, Social Enterprises, Family Businesses), Directorate General - Enterprise and Industry, European Commission.
Apostolos said, "The summit and especially the movie, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, have changed my mind. I was always one of those who thought seniors staying in the workforce were taking jobs away from young people. Now I realize the important benefits of creating a multi-generational work environment and the value of reverse mentoring."
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