High-Impact Entrepreneurship

Interview with Endeavor’s Allen Taylor (Director, Global Networks), selected for “Top 99 Under 33″

Allen Taylor, Endeavor’s Director of Global Networks, has been featured in Diplomatic Courier magazine’s “Top 99 Most Influential
International Professionals Under 33″
. What follows is the full interview from the article, originally published here.

Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.

For the past decade, my passion has been working to connect the cultures and people of the United States with those in emerging markets, particularly in Latin America. I have done this through my work at three different non-profit organizations, including Princeton in Latin America (PiLA), which I co-founded back in 2002, and Endeavor, where I have spent the past five years in various leadership roles.

I steadfastly believe that harnessing the energy, creativity, and innovative capacity of the private sector is critical to the future of foreign policy.

I currently serve as the Director of Global Networks for Endeavor, an innovative, global non-profit that seeks to transform emerging countries by establishing High-Impact Entrepreneurship as the leading force for sustainable economic development.

Based in San Francisco, I lead Endeavor’s efforts to connect its portfolio of 350+ emerging market companies with US-based mentors and investors. My current work focuses on building out Endeavor’s West Coast presence, and leading the Endeavor Investor Network – a new initiative designed to connect US-based venture capitalists with High-Impact Entrepreneurs and local investment partners in emerging markets across Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.

Over the past 5 years I have devoted my entire life to innovation and entrepreneurship, but in a way that you might not expect. I have spent every waking moment working alongside and in support of entrepreneurs in emerging markets. But not just any entrepreneurs: the incredible men and women I have had the good fortune of supporting and guiding have all been recognized by Endeavor, a private sector-focused economic development organization, as “High Impact Entrepreneurs.” We made this term up at Endeavor a few years back, but, in short, these entrepreneurs are the ones with the greatest potential and the biggest ideas – the ones who can change not only their companies and their communities, but also the world. And most importantly, they are the ones – 600+ of them representing 350+ companies from 12 countries – who have created 158,000 jobs and $4.5 billion in annual revenues.

What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?

Founding Princeton in Latin America (PiLA), which has placed over 100 fellows in 12-month service fellowships in Latin America over the past seven years, remains the single greatest source of personal pride for me in this realm. These young leaders return home with a profound and lifelong commitment to Latin America.

What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?

I firmly believe that the next two decades will belong to the Emerging Markets. And the story goes far beyond India and China. In fact, I think the real “untapped regions” of the world where I see tremendous potential for investment and growth in the years ahead consists of the emerging world – specifically beyond India and China. That starts with the other half of the BRICs (Brazil and Russia), but also includes countries like those included in the 2005 Goldman Sachs group called the “Next 11” (Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam), and The Economist’s new acronymic grouping (2010) of the “CIVETS” (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey, South Africa).

In brief, I see 30-40 countries in all – scattered across several regions of the world – that represent significant global growth and influence in the near-to-medium term. But if I have to pick just one region, my money is on Latin America.

Over the past decade I have lived, worked and traveled in over 70 countries, and called seven cities home: Buenos Aires, Berlin, London, Istanbul, New York, Bogota, and now San Francisco. I consider myself a global citizen who steadfastly believes that innovation and amazing entrepreneurs truly can come from anywhere. But I am increasingly convinced that Latin America – powered by Brazil and Mexico as dual growth engines, but also with significant contributions from Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and others – will be the most dynamic part of the world over the next decade.

What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?

The single greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation is the increasingly dynamic movement of information and capital across an interconnected global economy, placing enormous strain on the archaic laws and policies governing the flow of the world’s most important asset: human capital. The rapidly globalizing economy will demand smarter policies around immigration in America and across the globe.

What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy?

Structural challenges of our “19th Century nation-state” world will be increasingly challenged and disrupted in the years ahead by global actors, be they negative forces for change like terrorist groups, or positive ones like dynamic, entrepreneurial companies and/or NGOs. Figuring out the roles of state actors and their foreign policies, and how they work with non-governmental leaders from the business and social sectors, will be perhaps the greatest challenge of our generation.

What personal, managerial, and leadership skills and traits must the next generation of foreign policy leaders possess?

Courage and bold ambition, mixed with the ability to listen.

How can foreign affairs be made more accessible to Americans, particularly younger generations?

Every single U.S. college student should be required to spend at least six months in another country to graduate. Gap years abroad between high school and college should be encouraged. Language learning in primary/secondary school should be emphasized. In short, we need to make the world matter to Americans. And to make it matter, first they must be exposed.

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?

Woodrow Wilson

Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?

Lenin, Marx, etc.

If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?

I think a lot of the decisions made in the late 1940s after WWII had the most profound impact on the next half-Century. I would have loved to have been an actor in those discussions in trying to better anticipate what was to come and shape a more positive outcome.

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