America’s first daughter lobbies for women at Global Entrepreneurship Summit
By Geeta Goindi
Hyderabad, India, November 29, 2017 – In her most significant appearance on the global stage since her father Donald Trump was elected US president, Ivanka Trump heaped praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and warmly commended the people of India who, she said, “inspire us all”.
The senior White House advisor, looking radiant in a bright green floral dress, spoke at the grand opening ceremony of the eighth annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit co-hosted by India and the US at the heavily guarded Hyderabad International Convention Center. The theme of the Summit was ‘Women First, Prosperity for all’ and in her inaugural address, Ivanka applauded Prime Minister Modi for his firm belief that the progress of humanity is incomplete without the empowerment of women.
She extolled him for his efforts “to build India as a thriving economy, a beacon of democracy, and a symbol of hope to the world. What you are achieving is truly extraordinary”, she said. “From your childhood selling tea to your election as India’s prime minister, you have proven that transformational change is possible”.
Hailing India as “the world’s largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies on earth”, Ivanka commended the “enterprise, entrepreneurship and hard work” of Indians which, she noted, has lifted over 130 million citizens out of poverty and is enabling the middle class grow to an estimated 500 million people by 2030.
“You have opened new universities across the country. Your doctors and scientists are discovering medical cures and life-saving technologies. Your engineers and architects have built modern wonders that grace your skies. And Indian spacecraft have traveled to the moon and to Mars. The people of India inspire us all”, she said.
The influential first daughter saw the Summit as a symbol of the strong friendship and growing economic and security partnership between India and the US. Quoting her father, she said, “India has a true friend in the White House”.
Prime Minister Modi underscored that the Summit “not only connects Silicon Valley with Hyderabad, but also showcases the close ties between the US and India”.
The event, held for the very first time in South Asia, was inaugurated by Modi and Ivanka and attended by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna and his American counterpart Ken Juster. It drew 1,500 aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and supporters from 150 countries to the spacious Convention Center to meet, mingle, and brainstorm over three days. The participants ranged in age from 13 to 84 years with 31.5 percent being 30 years old or younger.
It is noteworthy that for the first time in its eight-year history, the majority of participants were women, at 52.5 percent, representing 127 countries. Furthermore, over ten countries including Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Israel were represented by all-female delegations.
Lobbying for women, Ivanka spoke of closing the gender entrepreneurship gap worldwide, ensuring women entrepreneurs have access to capital, networks, mentors and equitable laws.
“If India closes the labor force gender gap by half, the economy could grow by over 150 billion dollars in three years”, she said.
In her inaugural address, she felicitated the “courage and determination” of Rajlakshmi Borthakur, an Assamese businesswoman based in Bengaluru.
Borthakur invented a smart glove that predicts, manages and detects different diseases and disorders using Artificial Intelligence. Her innovation arose from an exigency – her son began having seizures at a young age and the doting mom wanted to create a solution to better monitor his health. Today, her company, TerraBlue XT, aims to make specialty healthcare accessible throughout India.
Describing Hyderabad as “a city that is quickly emerging as the innovation hub of India”, Ivanka noted that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went to school here, and T-hub’s new facility is set to open next year in the city and will become the largest incubator in Asia.
“It’s wonderful to be in this ancient city brimming with transformative technology”, America’s first daughter affirmed. “Now, your tech centers may even outshine your world-famous Biryani”, she quipped.