President Obama spoke this past Friday at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University, welcoming entrepreneurs from more than 170 countries, moderating a panel of young entrepreneurs which included CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and commenting on the benefits of a globalized world.
“I believe all of you represent the upside of an interconnected world,” Obama said, “all the optimism and the hope and the opportunity that the interconnected world represents.”
The president took that opportunity to speak publicly for the first time on the outcome of the United Kingdom’s referendum on European Union membership, also known as Brexit, which stunned the world Friday morning when it was announced that the UK had voted to leave the EU.
“I do think that yesterday's vote speaks to the ongoing changes and challenges that are raised by globalization,” Obama said. “But while the UK’s relationship with the EU will change, one thing that will not change is the special relationship that exists between our two nations.”
During his speech, the president spoke about the growing inter-connectedness in the world and the role and benefits of entrepreneurship — “When people can start their own businesses, it helps individuals and families succeed,” — and the importance of helping youth — “We got to make sure that all of our young people around the world have the tools they need to start new ventures,” he said.
The president adopted a positive tone about America’s role in a globalized society, saying that the global entrepreneurship summits, the first of which was held in 2010, are helping “to empower entrepreneurs like you.” The summits, while globally focused, address issues such as job creation and innovation that are important in America.
He added that more than 17,000 entrepreneurs have been able to connect with each other and receive other benefits thanks to the summits.
He reiterated that he was personally committed to helping continue what was begun almost seven years ago, even as he leaves the presidential office.
“We are very proud to announce that next year’s [GES] will be hosted in India,” he said, to applause. “I’ll try to stop by if I’m invited.”