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Kauffman Foundation ESHIP summit 2019 Kansas City

My first attendance to ESHIP summit was made possible by the generous financial donation and sponsorship of the Linux Foundation and the scholarship awards from the Kauffman Foundation. ESHIP tremendously helps the entrepreneurs to feel confident that there is a supportive environment that can help them transition into productive entrepreneurs and to share these gifts in ways that can shape the path towards welcoming other entrepreneurs. Through ESHIP's structured programs, there is a lot to take away from the 7 ESHIP goals.

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It's not A 'Streetcar Named Desire'


It's not A 'Streetcar Named Desire'

...These streetcars in Kansas City are innovative modes of transportation that are helping the residents and visitors alike, commute around with the ease of access. It's part of my experience at the ESHIP Summit 19, and this drives innovation in the Kansas City and beyond. Andrew Benson Greene
ESHIP 2019

I arrived on May 20th, 2019 in Kansas City (KC), to attend the Kauffman Foundation ESHIP summit. It was a night of pouring rain and the weather was a bit inclement. I was eager to make it to the Holiday Inn Hotel in downtown Kansas City which has been already booked and paid for by the generous donation of the Linux Foundation. Whilst at the intersection of choosing between getting an Uber or a taxi off to my hotel, a traveler, a local of KC, nudged me to the realization of a convenient mode of transportation in the city – ‘The Streetcar’ which was a few minutes away from arriving.  It reminded me of A Streetcar Named Desire a masterpiece play written by Tennessee Williams, which I read many years ago during my undergrad as an English Major student at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
But this Kansas City Streetcars were different, as they were not the personal loses and tragedy of the emotionally beleaguered life of Blanche DuBois in the play, not the symbolic desire of lust, betrayal, greed and forlornness and consequently life-long penury.
The street cars in Kansas City were meant to provide easy access to mobility and transport and an important connection for the people to access resources, bolster job opportunities and access to markets. This transportation is catering for thousands of residents and visitors in the Midwestern. This transportation is ‘fueling economic growth promoting development, raising property values, attracting businesses and residents, and helping to redefine Kansas city, and these streetcars benefit everyone’. but an uncommon idea of providing free accessible transport around main routes of KC. Perhaps, it reflected Kauffman’s uncommon idea to make the world a better place.  Ewing Kauffman Foundation ‘works to enhance civic pride in his hometown and to make it a major league city’.
Kauffman's Vision
It is in Kauffman’s legacy and his work which continues today...

It is in Kauffman’s legacy and his work which continues today with his Foundation, that we see his vision and support of initiatives that are making a difference in Kansas City and around the world. 

We See it's vibrancy

We see ‘its vibrancy through investments in education, entrepreneurship, and civic initiatives in order to fulfill Mr. Kauffman's intent for Kansas City’. And this innovative transport facility assuages the cluster of problems of transportation with a modern innovative mode of transport. It is that uncommon idea which Kauffman explored, and that which is said to be the positive things ‘that are deeply rooted in Kansas City and greatly contribute to its economic vibrancy and national relevance’.

Above is a Light rail stop and the rail is called “Street Car’. The sign of ‘Kauffman’ is inscribed at this stop and in so many places, as a sign of how much the city appreciated one of their best brains. Named after the renowned and well-respected entrepreneur here in Kansas city (Kauffman),  I can see the signs of Kauffman Arts Center, Innovation Centers, Kaufmann Stadium, etc. The program ESHIP is also one of the flagships of the Kauffman Foundation

I boarded one of Streetcars in Kansas City. A soothing, reliable and innovative mode of transportation

ESHIP tremendously helps the entrepreneurs to feel confident that there is a supportive environment that can help them transition into productive entrepreneurs and to share these gifts in ways that can shape the path towards welcoming other entrepreneurs

My first attendance to ESHIP summit was made possible by the generous financial donation and sponsorship of the Linux Foundation and the scholarship awards from the Kauffman Foundation. ESHIP tremendously helps the entrepreneurs to feel confident that there is a supportive environment that can help them transition into productive entrepreneurs and to share these gifts in ways that can shape the path towards welcoming other entrepreneurs. Through ESHIP's structured programs, there is a lot to take away from the 7 ESHIP goals.
These well-thought and constructive goals challenge and inspire entrepreneurs every step of the way and open wide their minds to think critically about that which is possible within the entrepreneur ecosystem. In this gathering, there is collective energy which translates into positive action and helps shape the course of innovation and entrepreneurship forever.
2019 Kauffman Foundation ESHIP Summit
My first stint with ESHIP

My first stint with ESHIP has been impressive and I have had the fortune to meet so many great entrepreneurs and people who care about the quality of life on our planet. 

And so, I am determined to pass it on and encourage others to join the innovative ecosystem bandwagon as we all pool our ideas and resources to make sure that there is a thriving ecosystem that supports and sustains entrepreneurship at all levels. Participants discussions centered around these 7 ESHIP Goals.
- Inclusive field
-         Collaborative Culture
-         Shared Vision
-         Connected Networks
-         Practical Metrics and Methods
-         Universal Support
-         Sustainable work.

The summit also encouraged diversity and gender participation and the opportunity to bring Mayors to interact with the changemakers and entrepreneurs is a novelty and a positive interconnection. This collaboration has far-reaching impact in the community, allowing for both sides to appreciate the various lenses in which they view problems in the community and help proffer solutions.

Inspired by the ESHIP Summit, I am eager to create a start-up that connects generations of entrepreneurs using open source software in my community in Maryland and Baltimore. I will also support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in my home country Sierra Leone by looking at the possibility to set up pioneer innovation centers to create the enabling environment for entrepreneurs in socially and economically disadvantaged communities succeed - One, a community in West Africa reeling from the aftermath of war and Ebola and another, a community in Maryland Baltimore, struggling to overcome the vestiges of a cycle of youth violence, gun violence, drugs and social challenges.

One of the key Kauffman Foundation speakers Andy Stoll said that ‘only through working together, I think can we truly build vibrant and inclusive ecosystems within our communities. He referenced his colleague victor saying, Victor really puts it clearly when he adds that Eco-systems is emerging at the intersections of economic and community development’. He goes on to suggest that ‘true traditional economic development and a true ecosystem and community development ‘as a bottom-up solution, and when the top and the bottom up figure out how to work together’. Andy believes that the conversations earlier in the panels and discussions help to shed light and brought some insight and help each of us understand the perspectives of the other folks working in the ecosystems in building these communities. Some of the challenges they face and, often the share lack of understanding of the shared terminology which is goal number 3. Someone from the City office of the mayor will be saying one thing and another from a co-working space and a tech incubator saying a different thing. Actually, we are talking about the same thing but using different words. When these scenarios occur, we miss each other’s point of view. He advised that taking the time to be empathetic and understand where the folks are coming from and listening first is the way for us to bridge those disconnections. Andy also referenced the Ecosystem playbook there is a declaration of independence; on a book they wrote at the first ESHIP Summit which are guiding principles to help folks work together and about the need for interdependence. He believed that the morning session panels and conversation helps to seed some thoughts and ways we might be able to work together convey these messages and to reach folks in the government sectors and in the mayor’s office and all the sectors held here at the ESHIP Summit.
They are keen to create an evolving model of economic development that is inclusive of anyone who has an idea regardless of who they are, or where they come from. The reality today is that it does n’t matter who you are. It does matter where you come from, you can become an entrepreneur.  These remarks are by far very assuaging and can propel to positive action even the most skeptic of entrepreneurs wanting to plunge into the ecosystem but feeling fearful or lack the courage to do so. Andy goes on to add that “If we all work together, all of us in this room, with our friends and folks in our networks, we are learning a new way to build communities, a new way to create pathways in
Andy reiterated that ‘there is the notion that communities need economies, communities need entrepreneurs and research shows that there is a lot of benefit from the individual entrepreneurs in community building at different levels. Those entrepreneurs need eco-systems to live in an environment that surrounds them. Ecosystems need builders because you can’t buy in an ecosystem, it must be built by the people in this room, the people that make this system is the strong professional field that surrounds them.
Andy talked about the need to ‘discover, design and deliver’, -ESHIP met its obligation by listening to the specific needs of ecosystem builders. They also went ahead in creating online goals and initiatives that build more robust ecosystem builders. ESHIP also moved closer to achieving a robust professional field of ecosystem builders. He shared the glowing success of ESHIP to meet this goals stating that- “Over the last year, we had a 110 folks in 8 working groups that worked to design specific initiatives that we can work on together and the steps needed to get closer to achieving the ESHIP goals and at this point in the summit we are now transitioning into the delivery unit. He asked ‘can we deliver on the specific goals that we have named? can we come up with more initiatives with specific projects that we can do together?
He goes on to show the many efforts made to build the ecosystem, pointing out that, “This work is driven by a community of folks not just here and not just in this room, but thousands of people who have engaged in this work since 2017. He said entrepreneurship is a community swoop, that we believe deeply and that ecosystem community building is also achievable out of the community swoop and that Ecosystem is achievable and relevant for the work we all do. Andy mentioned the commitment of the Kauffman Foundation stating that “last year the Kauffman Foundation committed to supporting two community activators in order to encourage this work. He mentioned the amazing work of two activators Christine Lai and Cecilia Wessinger both of whose work focuses on the building of ecosystems. Whilst Cecilia’s work specifically focused on the growing community of ‘ecosystem building practitioners’, Christine’s work is driven to support and focuses on the growing community of ‘National Resource Providers’, NRPS
These two activators told amazing stories about their work and who are community builders at heart. Cecilia said when her entrepreneurship journey began, she was introduced to 1 million corps where she received a warm welcome and encouragement for her to pursue her ideas.  Reflecting on her time at 1 Million Corps, she mentioned, ‘The first time I walked into a room and presented my ideas and someone says that’s a great idea instead of that’s a good idea, but…” She acknowledges that entrepreneurship can be a lonely and challenging path but having people around her who were supportive of her mentally and financially made a profound difference. She found a springboard to leap forward to her entrepreneurship journey with 1 million corps. She says: “Because of my involvement with the 1 million corps, I was invited to the inaugural ESHIP summit”. She booed with enthusiasm the presence of women participants and people of color at the inaugural ESHIP summit. “Back in 2017, there were 47% women, 29% people of color”. Turning to the audience, she added: “It was a beautiful room, full of people like you, who gave before they brought, who listened before they answered, and really wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
She mentioned the recurring support of the ESHIP to embrace all as one family, ‘our family, you will hear enough of family’. Just like when she entered 1 million corps, she felt she has entered a family, so is it with ESHIP, and she says she has the honor and the privilege of feeling that every single day since becoming part of the ESHIP Ecosystem builders and it ‘does n’t go away’. 
Cecilia says her work and her colleague Christine’s focus on helping to facilitate collaboration, support the community infrastructure, and her focus is the Ecosystem building practitioners. 'You, and all your colleagues who do thankless things to make the work of ecosystem building possible'. She said you are part traffic-controller, part switch-board operator.

She felt that the grassroots ecosystem building efforts are best when you have a set kind of framework, it needs to be transparent, it needs to be flexible and needs to be viable. "We are here to align, connect, engage and empower you". As a consultant from the Kauffman Foundation, she tries to bring a passion for inclusion and diversity into the mix especially the sense of belonging. She says ‘when we Ecosystem builders foster community; we create an environment where we can all thrive. We interconnect and infuse a collaborative culture and a more sense of abundance where we all prosper. Robust communities will be purposeful and a greater sense of belonging that enriches all in different ways'.

And that means all sustainable mark, more growth and more opportunity for all of you. Just like one million corps is better because of the collective brainpower in this room. Now I know that I am more knowledgeable because of you, I am better connected because of your networks, and I have more impact because of everyone here”.
At Kauffman foundation ESHIP Summit, it was not all about brainstorming ways to carve a path for entrepreneurs through the ecosystem building programs, but there were lots of fun time. Music was not only considered entertainment, but also one of several art forms that were explored. Music was also regarded as an intrinsic and important part of entrepreneurship, and which also demonstrates the many talents of the attendees. Artist like the LA-based Landlights center for voice and other musical contributions just rocked the stage to promote joy and entertainment for the 2019 ESHIP summit attendees and ecosystem builders.

The opening night of reception on Tuesday, May 21st, was a combination of great conversation, fun night, lively music, and great networking opportunities. Kansas City welcomed us to a great variety of food, great scenery and folks who are recharging their enthusiasm every single day to help change the world through entrepreneurship and building the much-needed ecosystem to help give opportunities to the thinkers and problem solvers.

I had time to site-see around the streets of Kansas City and am amazed by it’s beauty and arts, and a culture of innovation, and the friendly people. The streets were peaceful and there were many tourists and visitors who traveled for special events and I get to see them at ‘Main Street’  a major street that runs through down town Kansas City center and connects you to various places.

At the event, I shared my work and vision in the long path to innovation that takes me through a journey from the non-profit world to plunge headlong into the business start-up domain. I also shared my new start-up company, as well as chatted with attendees on how to test open-source and software in my new start-up company to help create opportunities for low income and young entrepreneurs to come on board and participate on the platform. I shared my vision for the use of open-source and innovative technology to create opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in our communities especially in starting with Baltimore. Through this initiative, open source will also become a true power of connections between low-income entrepreneurs and help provide jobs, build self-esteem, create easy access for young aspiring entrepreneurs to access experienced entrepreneurs via a mentoring gaming program. This drive to use the power of open source software will drive positive change in Baltimore and beyond, and provide access to rich resources and attract a pipeline of investment opportunities for people of color and low income youth to harness the power of open source to outsmart the pervasive poverty that still plagues many in the city, especially along racial lines. Through open source incorporated in my start-up company ‘Coinfidence’ I hope to join with others who have been carving the path to improving the economic well-being of Baltimore’s low-income residents. Through the networking opportunities at the event and the potentials for the use of open source software, my start-up hopes to harness the power of open source software to provide job opportunities, usher in a new wave of entrepreneurs. 

About my uncommon ideas - Please click here:  Andrew Benson Greene
B-Gifted Foundation

Andrew Benson Greene - Founder of B-Gifted Foundation

Founder of Coinfidence

Jeanne Sauve Scholar at McGill

James Baldwin — ‘The world is before you, and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.' 

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