GOOD is at President Obama's Summit on Entrepreneurship, an event designed to spur business collaboration between Muslim-majority countries and the United States, and we're meeting new people.
WHO HE IS: Rashad Hussain
WHAT HE DOES: Represents the United States to the Organization of the Islamic Conference
WHAT THAT MEANS: He is kind of the U.S. face to the Islamic world.
The Muslim world is not a monolithic bloc. Delegates at this summit hail from five distinct regions, from South America to Northern Europe, representing more than 50 countries. Even the most visible strip of the Islamic world—the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, or MENASA—contains nations as culturally distinct as they are geographically remote. What do entrepreneurs in Libya and Pakistan have in common?
“What the summit is designed to do is allow the delegates themselves to discuss the obstacles they've faced in their home country. Some of them may be very specific to the countries that they come from,” says Rashad Hussain, U.S. envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. “Others will be very general. The summit provides a forum for them to talk about some of the challenges they face and the obstacles that they've overcome.”
Beyond the more concrete Obama administration objectives in the Middle East—withdrawing from Iraq and eventually from Afghanistan, promoting a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and Palestine—promoting entrepreneurship can serve to grease diplomatic wheels.
“[Resolving conflict] can be done not only through social entrepreneurship but through economic entrepreneurship as well, to the extent that people are creating jobs that will benefit societal welfare,” Hussain explains. “Oftentimes, when you have people with different faiths, or people with different political views, who share objectives—such as promoting economic growth, promoting community development—they can come together across religious lines.”
See all of GOOD's coverage of the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship here.