Ecosystem building has risen to the national conversation — marking the right moment for Victor Hwang to exit the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and its vision-rich entrepreneurship team, he said.
“A few years ago, people would talk about supporting entrepreneurs as if they were disconnected individuals … helping one entrepreneur at a time or maybe a group of entrepreneurs at a time,” said Hwang, who will leave his post as vice president of entrepreneurship at the end of the year.
“Today, when people talk about helping entrepreneurs across the entire country, they talk about, ‘How do you help them thrive in these connected ecosystems? How do you help surround them with the right access to the relationships and the resources they need?’” he explained.
Such a shift in conversation is the result of years’ worth of ecosystem development work, which has seen rapid growth since Hwang joined Kauffman in 2016.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish in entrepreneurship and as we shift from the new ideas and the strategy development, deepening that work is something that I feel is great for someone else to take from here,” he said in reference to the organization’s commitment to support the makers, doers, and dreamers of society.
Click here to learn about the Kauffman Foundation’s launch of the Inclusion Open grants program.
Though Hwang’s successor as yet to be named, he’s eager to watch what the foundation does with momentum surrounding intentional ecosystem building, he noted — adding that he’s been a friend of Kauffman and its work for more than two decades and plans to continue acting as a champion for the organization and its programs.
“As we move away from [the idea of] entrepreneurship as something to help individuals, to something that actually can transform an entire economy — I think that requires the creation of a much more rigorous, much more actionable and practical ways to do that,” he said. “I’m looking forward to watching the foundation of the department and whoever takes my role continue to move that forward.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Hwang’s path to the future is paved with opportunity, he said in reference to what’s to come in his post-Kauffman career.
“There’s a lot of stuff percolating, but I think at the core, the country is at this unique moment. I’ve been doing work and helping entrepreneurs for two decades now and this is the most interest I’ve seen in entrepreneurship as a national priority for solving our economic challenges,” he said of his focus moving forward and pivotal moments the nation faces.
“I’m excited to get back out in the field and tackle that issue.”
As national conversations surrounding entrepreneurial support intensify, Hwang will have a friend in Kauffman as he finds new ways to raise his voice for entrepreneurs, he said in reference to current initiatives emerging from the organization.
“As we look at the 2020 political cycle, there’s a lot of interest and discussion in the air about how entrepreneurship can play a bigger role in the broader discussion about the country’s future,” Hwang said of on-going work at Kauffman.
Click here to find out what Kauffman execs told lawmakers ultimately will grow entrepreneurship in the United States.
“We are actively involved in trying to put together a narrative that can unite the voices of entrepreneurs together so that there can be a common voice and a common set of ideas that we can push out and talk about,” he said.