November 15, 2012

Remarks by Madeleine K. Albright, Chair of Partners for a New Beginning

White House Reception in Honor of the Global Entrepreneurship Summit


Washington, DC - November 15, 2012

Thank you, Ben, for your kind words and good afternoon to you all.

As a former diplomat who has made a transition to the private sector, I welcome the administration’s focus on entrepreneurship as an essential building block of international economic development.

I am also pleased to be here because -- among the responsibilities I now have -- is that of chair of the Partnership for a New Beginning – or PNB.

In that capacity, I am privileged to have as co-chairs, Mr. Walter Isaacson and Mr. Muhtar Kent, who serve as president and CEO of, respectively, the Aspen Institute and the Coca-Cola company.

The PNB is an innovative variation on the theme of public-private partnerships and was launched about 30 months ago in response to President Obama’s landmark speech in Cairo.

The initiative was designed to contribute to the president’s call for a fresh start in relations between the United States and international Muslim communities.

Our program is based on mutual responsibility and respect, and reflects the interest we each have in a dynamic economy that creates good jobs and helps people to enjoy richer and fuller lives.

As we are all aware, this is a particularly acute challenge in the Arab Middle East where a combination of population growth, inadequate education, and dubious economic policies has led to steadily rising unemployment, especially among the young.

Seventy-five million jobs must be created in the next decade just to maintain an unacceptable status quo. 

This situation has been made both more hopeful and more complicated by political turbulence that combines the promise of democracy with the trauma of rapid structural change.

PNB cannot provide a comprehensive solution to these challenges, but because of its emphasis on harnessing the strength of both the public and private sectors, it holds the promise, over time, of achieving major gains

To this end, the Partnership is focused on four goals: 

Generating economic opportunity and entrepreneurship;

Fostering innovation in science and technology; 

Improving education; and 

Encouraging people-to-people exchanges between the United States and majority Muslim societies.

In just its first two years, PNB has established local chapters in 10 countries, helped to generate more than 180 partnerships, and enlisted the support of a broad array of prominent corporations, academic institutions, and NGOs.

Its potential for future progress is bright because of its model, which is designed to take full advantage of local initiative, emphasize innovation, and capitalize on the administrative, training, planning, and marketing skills of our private sector participants.

In a sense, PNB’s role is that of matchmaker, as it brings together groups and people who would not otherwise come into contact.

This has already resulted in some intriguing combinations.

For example, in Indonesia, ExxonMobil and Intel are working on a far-reaching rural education project.

In Turkey, Coca-Cola and Cisco are assisting a group of aspiring businesswomen to establish themselves.

In Tunisia, Microsoft and Intel Corporation are mentoring students with the goal of helping them to develop leadership and commercial skills.

And in the West Bank, a delegation of American investors has provided training and business opportunities to young entrepreneurs.  

As we go forward, we are looking both to take advantage of immediate opportunities and to identify projects that will address the underlying conditions that have, in the past, posed a barrier to sustainable job creation and prosperity.

In Jordan and throughout the Maghreb, this long-term perspective has led to a special emphasis on education and on nurturing the concept of critical thinking, which is essential to create new and competitive enterprises in the global marketplace.

What we are learning is that young people in the Muslim world, like their counterparts everywhere, are eager to learn and possessed of enormous productive potential.

Problems arise when there is no constructive avenue for them to pursue their dreams and no system in place for helping them to develop their intellectual and entrepreneurial capabilities.

In a world where technology is increasingly dominant, the gap is growing rapidly between those who have access to modern education and training and those who do not.

It has been said that history is a race between education and catastrophe and that is, obviously, a race we must win.

PNB is a new and exciting means for fulfilling President Obama’s bold vision and for establishing winning connections between East and West, government and business, and one generation and the next.

I urge your support and participation in it, and pledge my own continued determination to help it succeed.

And now, for the next part of our program, I am pleased to yield the podium to the distinguished administrator of the Small Business Administration, Karen Mills.