Shattering Myths: CEO Forum with Linda Rottenberg
NEW YORK, May 15, 2009 - Linda Rottenberg, CEO and
co-founder of the nonprofit organization Endeavor, says successful
entrepreneurship is not necessarily borne out of "the most
revolutionary idea" but rather a business model that "shatters myths,"
is sustainable, and underscores a passion to help others.
Endeavor seeks to build profitable small businesses on a global scale and only targets entrepreneurs with high-impact potential.
Speaking to Fortune magazine Contributing Editor and Asia Society Associate Fellow Sheridan Prasso,
Rottenberg told the story of two Brazilian women trying to improve
self-esteem among women. Their goal: expand distribution for a product
to tame unmanageable hair. Today, these ambitious entrepreneurs have
attained multi-million dollar earnings. Rottenberg said their success
spotlights Brazil’s entrepreneurial spirit and private enterprise where
"failure is not an option."
Rottenberg and Prasso spoke about how entrepreneurs from emerging
market countries are building high-impact companies, and transforming
the private sector landscape in India, Egypt, and worldwide.
Endeavor has increasingly become the catalyst for supporting
entrepreneurs with little or no access to sufficient government funding
in their home countries. Despite the financial crisis, Rottenberg
believes entrepreneurs can capture a larger market share, hire better
talent, and tackle problems more swiftly than large firms.
She said "dream big and seize the opportunity" should be the mantra
for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to transform the private-sector
landscape in emerging nations.
Rottenberg said her organization matches their entrepreneurs with
the right business organization. She talked about one success story, a
Japanese engineer with an innovative design for wind turbines. Endeavor
not only secured a team of Harvard Business School professionals but
also helped him negotiate deals with General Electric. Today, he is
accredited with roughly 60 percent of the wind turbine design market.
On a more personal note, Rottenberg said Endeavor's potential
candidates face a grueling cross-examination by the company's selection
board. Of the hundreds of competitors, only a few are approved. Success
is often based on their business plan. "For me, you’ve got to marry a
great entrepreneur with a mind to scale a business, with a social
social need," Rottenberg said. "That’s when it works.” Accepted
candidates have received mentorship and training from top consulting
firms such as Deloitte and McKinsey & Company.
Reported by Eva Yang and Chandani Punia