Friday, November 5, 2010

Diane Berard of Les Affaires reports from WEF

Image from: Les Affaires
Diane Berard works with Les Affaires, a publication in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. For those of you who can read French, here is an extract from Diane's blog which describes Harbinger's work. 

Le Groupement répond à la résolution #3 : promouvoir l’éducation continue des entrepreneurs via le partage des meilleures pratiques.

Ensuite, petite virée du côté de  l’Inde pour découvrir de la pépinière d’intrapreneurs de  Vikas Joshi, fondateur et président du conseil du Groupe Harbinger (logiciels). Harbinger est une des 50 sociétés qui croît le plus rapidement en Inde. Selon Red Herring, c’est aussi l’une des 100 meilleures entreprises techno au monde.

L’an dernier, Vikas Joshi a sélectionné 40/400 employés pour en faire des intrapreneurs. Il leur a donné le droit, et le devoir, de développer leur leaderhsip, d’innover, de créer. Résultat : un an plus tard, trois nouveaux projets lucratifs sont nés. Et cette année, il répète l’expérience avec 40 autres employés.

Sa citation : « On ne peut pas s’arrêter pour repeindre notre bateau. Nous devons à la fois peindre et ramer »

Using Google Translate, I was able to figure out the last line: His quote: "We can not stop to paint our boat. We need both to paint and (keep) rowing."
You can read Diane's full blog at

Day 3 - BSchool visit, more insights and commitments

EMLYON Business School played host to the World Entrepreneurship Forum this morning. After late dinner last night, most of us were experiencing sleep deprivation this morning as we got ready early to board the bus leaving for the B-School campus.

As the bus winded its way through the beautiful city of Lyon, we could witness the wonderful fall colors on the trees lining Lyon's twin rivers and atop hills on both sides. The city is the second most important place in France after Paris, and home to about half a million people.

The program at the school was a public workshop, aimed at disseminating the Forum's insights with a large audience - about 600 persons, including students, alumni, partners and forum members.

The highlight of the morning was a talk by LIU Chuan-Zhi, the founder of Lenovo, China, part of a diversified enterprise with $16.6 B in revenue. As we listened to Mr Liu's speech, translated in real-time from Chinese to English, through our headsets, we could discern the gems wisdom coming from a savvy businessman who put China's business acumen on the world map:

What helped Lenovo beat multinationals at their game was superior industry knowledge, higher agility in tweaking product-service offerings to quickly address unique needs of the Chinese, shrewd pricing, astute team building at the top (including leader selection) and capital structure reforms that helped create incentives for employees. "Take people with you" was his mantra.

The next speaker was Ila Bhatt of India, popularly known as Ilaben, who has founded the Self-Employed Women's Association, with a membership of over a million women. When I talked to her in person, her penchant was evident in the one line she kept repeating: "There is so much more to do".

The Junior WEF members presented their ideas for fostering entrepreneurship - one of them being cartoon stories which depict the entrepreneur as a super-hero. What better way to get children dreaming about entrepreneurship?

Prof Zoltan Acs presented his findings of entrepreneurial competitiveness of nations, measured using a combination of indicators for attitude, activity and aspirations. The top 5 nations were: Denmark, Canada, US, Sweden, and New Zealand.

An interesting presentation followed where the topic of discussion was entrepreneurial aptitude measurement. Unfortunately the program was running late, so the speakers had to really cut it short.

After lunch, the team continued working sessions where commitments were made by everyone to undertake a few initiatives in the coming year in our respective businesses, to further the cause of entrepreneurship.

As I write this, members are figuring out the best way to spend the evening. Some plan to hang out and network, others are visiting the city center to enjoy Lyon city life and cuisine.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 2 - Keynotes, Working Sessions, Awards and Gala Dinner

Sir Fazle Abed, founder of BRAC in Bangladesh, the largest NGO in the world talked on developing entrepreneurship at the base of the pyramid. He argued that the perception of BoP has changed from "help the poor" to "sell to the poor" and further to "co-create with the poor".

Elmar Mock, founder of SWATCH, the famous fashion watch brand, made a passionate case for unleashing the creative forces within people, so that the creative does not become slave to the systematic; renovation does not replace innovation; and evolution does not pass off as revolution.

Zoltan Acs, professor at George Mason University's center for entrepreneurship and public policy, talked of entrepreneurial cities. Prof. Alain Fayolle of EMLYON business school talked on entrepreneurship education.

These four talks served as keynotes for four parallel tracks in the conference. Focused working groups were formed, and they got busy forming a vision for 2050 by sharing experiences, identifying drivers and inhibitors, and brainstorming ideas.

Time to leave for the Gala Ceremony where Entrepreneur for the World awards will be given away, followed by Barbara Hendricks concert and Gala dinner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 1 - Opening Session

The highlight of the opening session was meeting everyone in person - the energy of participants was palpable. Selected case studies of entrepreneurial initiatives were presented.

Barack Ben-Avinoam of Iris Ventures, Israel, presented how the venture has become a growth engine for the local, regional and national economy. Receiving about 300 business plans a year, they select a dozen and fund them. The technology incubator leverages matching funds from government.

I presented BaseCamp 2010, an ad-hoc social e-learning environment set up to foster entrepreneurial learning for corporate executives within Harbinger Group in 7 cities. The emphasis was on bringing out collaboration and team learning.

Sabetha Mwabenja presented women entrepreneurs finance program, from Exim Bank Tanzania.

Fernando Moncayo Castillo presented how they took the lessons in entrepreneurship development from Singapore government to Ecuador -  a great example of learning facilitated by World Economic Forum.

Prof. Patrick Molle, President of EMLYON Business School and Mr Jean-Luc Decornoy, President of KPMG SA welcomed the delegates. The conference has begun.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

About Lyon

Lyon, located on the eastern side of France, is known to be the absolute epitome of gastronomical France! I can't wait to sample its outstanding cuisine featuring tasty local specialties. As I check out the map of Lyon on Google, it seems to be a city situated between two rivers. Our hotel overlooks one of them. I am looking forward to enjoying the riverside walks, historic sites, cobbled streets lined by medieval buildings and green areas.

Some of the city attractions include the 12th century Cathédrale St. Jean with an astronomical clock, the hilltop amphitheater, the institute of cinematography, silk museum and fine art museum. I hope to catch up on a few if not all of them.

Last but not the least, I look forward to visiting and interacting with the faculty of  the EMLYON Business School, founded in 1872 and regarded as one of the best B-schools in France. Run with the motto of educating entrepreneurs of the world, the b-school focuses on three key themes: globalization, entrepreneurship and technology.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Ready for Introductory Session

I am excited about the introductory session of the World Entrepreneurship Forum, to be held on Wednesday 3 November from 7:00 pm.

The session notably includes 5 members’ presentations of their initiatives aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. It seems I am one of them.

I will be talking about our initiative to develop Corporate Entrepreneurship within our company, and it would be  a 10-minute presentation. The audience will be approximately 180 persons made up of World Entrepreneurship Forum members and media.

Time to prepare my slides! Gotta go.