April 22, 2011

The secret life of the start-up

Gillian Tett

IPlease respect FT.com's ts&cs and copyright policy which allow you to: share links; copy content for personal use; & redistribute limited extracts. Email ftsales.support@ft.com to buy additional rights or use this link to reference the article - http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2fb4e250-6bc8-11e0-93f8-00144feab49a.html#ixzz1KJNrz2L0

f you were going to spend $2bn to improve the world, where would you put it? Forty-odd years ago, Ewing Marion Kauffman, a self-made billionaire from Missouri, was faced with just that choice. He took a rather unusual decision. Instead of using his self-made billions to battle homelessness or help the poor, he decided to chase the Great American dream. More specifically, he founded an institute, which takes his name, in Kansas City, to promote entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial ideal. These days the Kauffman Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in America, topped only by groups such as the Ford Foundation or the giant Bill and Melinda Gates charity.

When I first encountered the Kauffman Foundation - which is barely known outside the US - I must admit I found the whole endeavour a little odd, if not ironic. After all, the usual image of entrepreneurs is that they go forth and boldly strike out on their own, without any paternalistic aid. And America, perhaps more than anywhere else, is supposed to epitomise the entrepreneurial dream; indeed, it is one thing that makes it so attractive.

Posted by jez at April 22, 2011 10:01 PM | Subscribe to this site via RSS:
Posted to Current Events | Entrepreneurs