Victor Hwang posed a riddle to a TEDx crowd gathered in Georgia.
What five-letter word was overlooked during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign and almost never mentioned by the candidates or at the party conventions?
The answer is rooted in overcoming inequality, said Hwang, vice president of entrepreneurship for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
“I’m the son of immigrants who grew up in towns of all kinds across Middle America. From that upbringing, I became sensitive to unfairness,” he told TEDxAugusta attendees. “It seemed wrong certain people got wealthy while others didn’t; some cities thrive while others fell behind. Ever since I was a kid, I started asking why … Why can’t we do better as a society?”
The good news? Kauffman has discovered the answer, Hwang said.
“But here’s the thing: When it comes to big challenges like jobs growth, inequality, poverty, there’s a huge gap between what we know and what we actually do,” he said.
What has Kauffman learned? Hwang detailed four key observations:
- New businesses create new jobs;
- Declining productivity is tied to declining innovation;
- Opportunity combats inequality; and
- New business ventures fight poverty
“Entrepreneurs are the ones who dream of a better future and who actually set out to make it happen,” Hwang said.
So, the riddle has an answer — entrepreneurship or “ESHIP” — he continued, but what’s the bad news?
“Somewhere along the way, America lost its mojo,” Hwang said.
Learn more about the challenge slowing innovation in the U.S. — as well as what individual entrepreneurs can do about it — in the video below.