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Peace Through Entrepreneurship

Investing in a Startup Culture for Security and Development

By Steven R. Koltai; With Matthew Muspratt

Joblessness is the root cause of the global unrest threatening American security. Fostering entrepreneurship is the remedy.

The combined weight of American diplomacy and military power cannot end unrest and extremism in the Middle East and other troubled regions of the world, Steven Koltai argues. Could an alternative approach work? Koltai says yes: by investing in entrepreneurship, and reaping the benefits of the jobs created through entrepreneurial startups.

From 9/11 and the Arab Spring to the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate, instability and terror breed where young men cannot find jobs. Koltai marshals evidence to show that joblessness — not religious or cultural conflict — is the root cause of the unrest that vexes American foreign policy and threatens international security.

Drawing on Koltai’s stint as Senior Adviser for Entrepreneurship in Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and his thirty-year career as a successful entrepreneur and business executive, Peace through Entrepreneurship argues for the significant elevation of entrepreneurship in the service of foreign policy. This entrepreneurship is not rural microfinance or mercantile trading. It is the scalable stuff of Silicon Valley and Sam Walton, generating the vast majority of new jobs in economies large and small.

Peace through Entrepreneurship offers a nonmilitary, long-term solution at a time of disillusionment with Washington’s “big development” approach to unstable and underdeveloped parts of the world — and when the new normal is fear of  terrorist attacks against Western targets, beheadings in Syria, and jihad. Extremism will not be resolved by a war on terror.  The answer, Koltai shows, is stimulating economic opportunities for the virtually limitless supply of desperate, unemployed young men and women leading lives of endless economic frustration. Those opportunities will come through entrepreneurship.

Steven R. Koltai is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and managing director of the entrepreneurship consultancy Koltai and Co. LLC. He is a successful entrepreneur in the telecommunications and event management industries, and from 2009–11 served as Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Praise for Peace through Entrepreneurship

"We are turning the screw of economic development with a rubber screwdriver." That’s Steve Koltai’s lively take on what is wrong with much official U.S. foreign assistance. Happily, he has a deeply American solution: harnessing the creativity and energy of people around the world in “doing entrepreneurship.” He’s both a visionary and a pragmatist; his ideas should occupy a much larger place in U.S. foreign policy.
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America, and former Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department

Steven Koltai makes the critical point that joblessness in volatile states is a major national security concern that must be addressed by innovative means. America’s traditional strength in entrepreneurship represents a promising and much needed tool in the fight against joblessness and the hopelessness, anger, and desperation it creates. Koltai has identified and persuasively argued for an important new element in American foreign policy that must be added to our toolkit.
—Admiral (Ret.) James G. Stavridis, Dean, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, and former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO

Innovation and the commercialization of innovation through entrepreneurship are hallmarks of the current world economy. The United States has a natural advantage here, which, as Steven Koltai points out, we are nowhere near using to full potential. This is an important book about an important idea that must have a more prominent place in America’s future international economic relations.
—Robert D. Hormats, former Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

An imaginative, innovative, and inspiring book about the power of entrepreneurs to change lives.
—Tara D. Sonenshine, former Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Peace through Entrepreneurship is an important book. It discusses the considerable work that must be undertaken to deliver a truly powerful solution for a global economy.
—Leonard A. Schlesinger, Baker Foundation Professor, Harvard Business School, and President Emeritus, Babson College

A mustread for anyone interested in growing economies and creating inclusive
prosperity, detailing the many reasons why entrepreneurship matters. One of them is the extraordinary opportunity entrepreneurship provides for women at all levels—from microto small and mediumsize enterprises—to gain economic independence. This is not just the right thing to do but also the smart and strategic thing to do if we want to alleviate poverty, raise the standard of living, enhance development, promote innovation, and drive economic growth.
—Melanne Verveer, Executive Director, Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, Georgetown University, and former U.S. Ambassador for Global Women’s Issues

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