The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world devoted to fostering entrepreneurship. Ewing Marion Kauffman was the founder and CEO of Marion Laboratories, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. At the time of its sale in 1989, the company had revenues of over $1 billion and employed over 4500 people.
I met Lesa Mitchell, Vice President of Advancing Innovation, in Bangalore in December 2008, when she and her colleague Carl Schramm, the CEO of the foundation attended the TiE Entrepreneurial Summit. What struck me immediately was their humility and willingness to learn, and always create an impact. The openness that they brought to the forum was refreshing, given that they have over $1.5 billion to invest in a myriad of programs to promote entrepreneurship!
I would encourage everyone to visit the Kaufmann website. It’s a storehouse of invaluable information about not only entrepreneurship, but also innovation, globalization, structuring and education. Their newest venture is a Charter School in Kansas City that will open in 2011.
The breadth of impactful activities that they host, in addition to the very high quality of active highly successful entrepreneurs they engage on an ongoing basis is quite staggering.
More recently, they have partnered with TiE on a number of initiatives, ranging from expanding the TiE Young Entrepreneurs program that was started in the Boston Chapter, and engages high school students in innovative business ventures, to helping take TiEQuest global. TiEQuest was founded by the Toronto Chapter, and is now the richest and most impactful business venture competition in North America.
The goals and execution capability of the Kauffman foundation are an organic, continually evolving testament to the perseverance and grand vision of its founder. I hope, one day, that Canada will also have a similarly broad ranging and impactful organization that truly embodies the nature of entrepreneurship and innovation, and has a focussed approach to creating significant impact.
Hari is a seasoned entrepreneur with over a dozen years of experience in building and exiting businesses in Canada, US and India.