GEW Korea 2017 encourages creative, social entrepreneurship for inclusive growth

By Kim Bo-gyung

Published : Nov 14, 2017 - 16:17
Updated : Nov 14, 2017 - 17:59

Global Entrepreneurship Week Korea 2017 was held this week under the theme of “Awakening the value of tomorrow via challenges of today,” highlighting the need for companies and entrepreneurs to place importance on inclusive growth.

Some 1,700 participants ranging from students to entrepreneurs attended the two-day event hosted by the Korea Entrepreneurship Foundation and the Ministry of SMEs and Startups.

Mentioning how profit-driven business models have led to social issues -- as seen in the 2008 financial crisis, climate change and social inequality -- keynote speaker Penny Low, founder and president of Social Innovation Park, emphasized Monday that it is time for companies to change the way they operate.

“The first thing is, your enterprise can not just talk about being the best. It has to be one that supports a certain social mission (that) could represent your social DNA,” Low said.

“But even better if it’s also an enterprise that has connection and advocacy. So it’s not just about the social mission, but how you connect the people in the ecosystem itself.”

Participants attend the Global Entrepreneurship Week Korea 2017 at Seoul Dragon City on Monday. Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald


A talk session followed her speech, joined by Yoon Hong-jo, founder and CEO of social venture Marymond, and Lynne Ahn, founder and CEO of Cotable.

When asked about how their ventures are pursuing both financial and social profitability, Yoon said, “Millennials are willing to pay extra for products that have value over number-based rational spending.”

Products made by Marymond appeal to customers as they represent human dignity, just as customers of luxury brands pay for vanity, Yoon added, explaining the brand’s business model.

Marymond is a Seoul-based social venture that sells clothes, accessories, bags and more established in 2012. It donates about half its profits to support surviving victims of Japan’s wartime sex slavery. The social venture is expected to post a revenue of up to 10 billion won ($89.4 million) this year.

Low suggested a broader definition of success to one that contains three essential factors: financial, social and environmental profitability.

A ceremony was arranged to recognize a total of 97 awards for entrepreneurs, educators and companies that have shown outstanding entrepreneurship over the past year.

Participants also shared their thoughts on the vision of entrepreneurship education and were offered a chance to experience promising businesses in the era of the “fourth industrial revolution” through hands-on programs.

On the second day, Tuesday, eight local startups competed in Get in the Ring, a tournament that began in the Netherlands as a platform for startups and investors to network, for the ticket to represent Korea in next year’s international tournament.

“The conglomerate-centered growth model is showing limitations. The ministry will fully support SMEs and ventures to head the country’s innovative growth,” said Choi Su-gyu, vice minister of SMEs and startups.

Global Entrepreneurship Week, which started in 2007, is an initiative of the Global Entrepreneurship Network based in Washington.

The global annual event is held during the third week of November in some 160 countries for prospective and current entrepreneurs to realize their full potential through workshops, lectures and contests. Korea joined the movement in 2014. 

By Kim Bo-gyung (lisakim425@heraldcorp.com), Lee Kwon-hyung(kwonhl@heraldcorp.com)

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The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation