Cairo: from vision to reality

Pradeep Ramamurthy, a White House official who plays a key role in implementing the vision laid out in President Obama’s … Continued

Pradeep Ramamurthy, a White House official who plays a key role in implementing the vision laid out in President Obama’s historic Cairo speech last June, dislikes talk about “initiatives” coming out of Cairo. “This is about a new way of doing business, a new DNA for how government operates,” he told me yesterday at the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. In other words, it’s not about listing the discrete tasks coming out of the Cairo speech and checking off the boxes, it’s about how Cairo invites looking at the world through a new lens.

Culture change takes time and is hard to measure, but the Entrepreneurship Summit provides a window into how the vision that President Obama laid out in Cairo is becoming reality.

As is his style, Obama likes to find the intersection between values that are high priorities in the world and that serve as common ground for different communities. Entrepreneurship is perfect. The world needs business entrepreneurs who are creating new goods and services and generating new jobs. It needs social entrepreneurs who are building new institutions to solve social problems. And entrepreneurship is a shared value in both Islamic and American civilization. From the Wright Brothers to Steve Jobs, entrepreneurs are celebrated figures in American history. But they are equally important in Islam. As Obama stated in the Cairo speech: “It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed.”

The Summit included business and social entrepreneurs across the Muslim world, from Nigeria to Indonesia, from Saudi Arabia to the United States. Perhaps the most commonly used phrase from the panelists was “culture of entrepreneurship.” I was impressed by the energy, intelligence, pragmatism and self-criticism in the discourse. Here were some of the most important dimensions of that culture of entrepreneurship:

Culture of Risk-Taking
Failure is good. Those three words were repeated over and over by some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the room. In much of the Muslim world (as elsewhere), there is a bias within families towards government jobs and professional careers (lawyer, doctor, accountant, engineer). Too often the first response that a creative young person in a Muslim culture will get to a new idea is, “Make that your hobby, and make sure to get a job in the government.” That attitude is not going to solve the problems of today or create the jobs we need for the future. As Muhammad Yunus said, “We should not teach young people to be job seekers. We should encourage them to be entrepreneurs, and therefore job givers.”

Culture of Pluralism

In his beautiful keynote, the American business leader S.A. Ibrahim spoke of the diverse faiths of the various mentors in his business career, of his current colleagues, and of the people he is mentoring. He made it a point to emphasize his knowledge of and respect for the religions of these people, not just their business acumen. It was a lesson he learned from his Muslim father who told him in their home city of Hyderabad, “My participation in the festivals of other faiths does not diminish me as a Muslim, it enhances me as a human.”

The more I listened to this, the more I recognized this wasn’t just about Mr. Ibrahim’s generous spirit, this was a necessary attitude for a successful business and entrepreneurial culture. To work in a globalized world, you’ve got to be able to work with people from different backgrounds. There’s nothing like respect for other people’s identity to build the foundation for successful business relationships. Moreover, talent comes in all colors and languages of prayer. As one panelist said, “I don’t care if it’s a black cat or a white cat, I just want a cat who can catch mice.”

Culture of Education, Human Development and Work Ethic
“The only renewable resource I know of is the human brain,” said the Jordanian businessman Fadi Ghandour. “I’m tired of talk about discovery of new oil or other natural resources, and new ways of refining or bringing these to market. I want to hear talk of the discovery of the power of the human brain and the investment needed to nourish it. It will cost billions, but it will be the best billions we spend.”

Improving education is, of course, a common applause line. Muslim cultures have an abundance of this all-important resource – people. But Fadi went one step further and emphasized the importance of work ethic. A culture of entrepreneurship needs a population of people willing to roll up their sleeves to dream and build new systems. That takes a whole different attitude than simply hoping to take your place in old institutions.

This was a summit about new recipes, not just more cooking. The Cairo vision is starting to take shape in reality.

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  • Navin1

    Has EP gotten up and pointed out how shameful it is that revolution muslims could succeed in threatening South Park and others free speech? If not where is the voice of muslim tolerance when it comes to islamic intolerance. If so, and for all the n muslims that sent in support letters to South Park to tell them that most mulims are fine with their antics, thanks. It would be nice to know if n = 5, 10, 100, 1million, is greater than or less than the n of muslims that want to place sharia over the world?hariuam

  • areyousaying

    Meanwhile, Eboo’s “peace loving Muslims” attack free speech in America by threatening to kill “South Park’s” creators.Complicity in abominations against God isn’t just limited to the lame apologist “others-did-it-too” Catholics.More proof Abraham was the original Satan.

  • YEAL9

    Once again taking a risk to my well-being by exercising my right to free speech:Mohammed was an illiterate, hallucinating Arab, who had embellishing/hallucinating scribal biographers who added a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers all in the name of Allah.And why are our troops still in Iraq? The 24/7 blood-letting, “refugee making” civil war between the Muslim Sunnis supported by the Saudi Arabia “Wannabees” and the Muslim Shiites supported by the terror theocracy of Iran whose significantly stupid ancient koranic feud continues over whose “spiritual leader” is the direct descendent of one hallucinating, womanizing, warmongering Arab named Mohammed!!! And “liberal” Muslims like Eboo question our concern about Muslim violence ????????????????????????????Please note that Muslims continue to avoid addressing the Worst Book Ever Written aka the koran. Its many faults are pointed out in the books of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sir Salman Rushdie. Muslims cannot read said books for fear of Islamic terror squads which says it all for the current and past state of Islam i.e. a warmongering, women-abusing, terror religion based on the hallucinations of one illiterate and long dead Arab by the name of Mahound aka Mohammed. Just think how much more work Muslims could get done if they were not shackled by 1400 years of religious mumbo-jumbo!!!

  • deepthought1

    Mr. PATEL:There’s is talk about “SUNSET” of the “U.S. International Religious Freedom” act in about a year from now. I/WE Agree, the USIRF should be disolved into oblivion. But This also should include disolving (SUNSET) the White-House “FAiTH BASED” Community initiative. Americans, need SUNSHINE in Government, let alone SUNSET. In an era Demanding, “Doing more with Less” (tantamount to Unneccesary Government Offices; Both Executively and Legislatively, and in some cases Judicially) THAT;Key words like, “Promoting” or “Enforcing” or “Impliment” or “Intervention” via a RELIGIOUS OFFICE (i.e., USIRF) in our Established Government, is illegal, immoral, unethical and Blaphemy! Singularity of ALL old-time ABEic & VEDic competing religious systems is NATURES inevitable outcome. Not PLURALITY of; inhumane competing GOD Systems or Faiths or Beliefs or Faiths as be Tolerable!???Time To Kick You sneaky Diabolical folk, enriching ye selves in our Government (not Yours or theirs) or via sphere of Influencing an already ‘Flabont’ President & Admin, Si Time to take your Money hungry self Agrandizing selves pretexes out of OUR (not Your) Government Forever!You & CO.’s godly-PLURALITY-Influence in our Government & ye snake like manipulative cunnings therein is Poison (Opium), and needs removal ASAP! Psssst, you and others; Start Packing!VOTE: For; SiNGULARITY of a G_D [EK=1] & IT’s BOOK, not a PLURALITY of “My god(s) [>1] & their Self-Serving Books. NEW come/born/begot from Eld/Old. Not The Other way around. Behold “E-K-L-A-H” a Non-Tax Exempt New-Age Faith/Belief/Religion. Imagine: The Religion Of Everything (Before the Science Of Everything)? Pssst: As forewarned; WE/I art Here! Sorry CHOPRA, Sorry SHUKLA, Sorry PATEL et al!

  • deepthought1

    correction:Imagine: The Religion Of Everything (Before the Science Of Everything)? A “MADE IN AMERICA”, not like yo Imported Religion Systems here or abroad. AMERICA Will e having a NEW-RELIGION [GENder & GOVernment/CONSTitution Friendly) SO,Please don’t Steal nor be Jealous of our Philosophy (NEW Song, born from Old). A Prophecy whose time, Milleniums is cometh. Pssst: As forewarned; WE/I art Here! Sorry Ramamurthy RAMamurthy, Sorry ZED, Sorry CHOPRA, Sorry SHUKLA, Sorry PATEL et al.Goodbye Jealous & Competing, “Judeo-ABEic Jews, Judeo-Abe Christians, Juseo-Abe Islamics, Judeo-Abe Mormons… AND Goodbye Judeo-VEDiC Hindus and Judeo-Vedic Buddhists…KINDALLA!

  • karsanghasi

    Two more American Muslims arrested yesterday for helping al qaeda with Tech support and mapping. Some enterpreneurship!

  • halozcel1

    Some consideration on Cairo speech,-*the developed the order of algebra*

  • novelstar

    OUR Food is the “MESSAGE” and not the “MESSENGER” andLike one Man’s Medicine is another mans poison, some “MESSEGES” (of ANY Holy? Book) causes one to undergo an adverse reaction to such Message via a meer Mortal of a Messenger. Hence, Hasling Killing/maiming for naught over a name for the “IT”. Gods God. Gods God great God & so on.So today , it can be proven, for all the world to see (there are 7 Billion People on Earth; not only Islamics) that ISLAM IS NO LONGER THE LAST RELIGION; And finally, this is the NEWER Message , like a religion, for any Milleniums therefrom derived that tends to be DYNAMIC and not STATIC anymore, via awareness; hence EVOLUTING US & WE with IT. So IT is “Eternity Avoiding Lonliness” in US and outside of US; animates & inanimates via ITs own stuffs & things. Hence why “IT” knows where everything IS. Vote: Abolish “THEOCRACY” & “MONARCHY” from the face of this Earth.; Then Behold; Genuine Ever Lasting Peace, as most folks Imagine it or prayed for, will become True in this Reality in IT’s Time! Note: And any form or style of “MEDITATION” (listening to IT) or “PRAYERation” (talking to IT) belongs to “IT” exclusively; not Humanity. Talking about Untouchable! This is the “Riddle Of The Satan/Jinn” exposed ALL HUMANITY and hence now gives Us, like a Prophecy, The Awarenes on “WHAT TO DO NEXT”.There Is Always RELiGION, But OUR GOD, not only their God, has No-Name. “IT”, is the closest Name to describe the undescribable and therefore is embedded/stuck into each human’s Psych innately via such awareness lately. Each iPerson iss a Prisoner of this “IT”; Yet “IT” knows everything. Remember: “IT” is not a “HE” nor a “SHE”; “IT” can no longer describe the old Word “GOD” [The Word GOD is not worthy of the “IT”/happenings] nor the word “ALLAH” used to describe out “IT”…..TO: (infinity), from: (Finity)!.