Entrepreneurs are driving the global economy forward. Here’s how.

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  • When Peter Beck was a kid growing up in New Zealand, he had a dream. He wanted to build rockets that went to space.

    Today, Peter isn’t just a kid with a dream. He’s a hard-nosed entrepreneur turning those ideas into reality. As the founder, CEO and CTO of Rocket Lab, he leads a company dedicated to opening up space — the final frontier — to commerce by making it cheaper and easier to deliver payloads. In 2009, Rocket Lab became the first private company in the Southern Hemisphere to reach space. And it’s primed to create even more frequent commercial launch opportunities in the future.

    Stories like Peter’s are why I love the annual EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Forum. This week, he will be just one of the many entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders from more than 60 countries gathering in Monaco.

    Entrepreneurs are critical for the world economy

    But we don’t just celebrate entrepreneurs because they have inspiring stories. We honor entrepreneurs because, in so many ways, they are critical to the success of our global economy.

    Late last year, the Harvard Business Review studied the effects our EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ US Award winners are having on the global economy — and this is exactly what it found. In 2015 alone, past Entrepreneur Of The Year Award winners created 14.1 million jobs. If you were to combine the trillions of dollars they have collectively added to the global economy over the past 30 years, they would rank 16th on the world’s largest economies — bigger than Sweden and the Netherlands.

    When it comes to job creation, these leading entrepreneurs outpaced competition from throughout the business world.

    When it comes to job creation, these leading entrepreneurs outpaced competition from throughout the business world, even during the toughest economic times. During the economic downturn of 2007 to 2011, they nearly doubled the rate of US job creation. They also outlasted the competition. In a world where just over 20% of businesses tend to survive more than 15 to 20 years after their founding, our winners nearly doubled that survival rate.

    Is the middle market increasingly driving global growth?

    These entrepreneurs are indicative of a larger trend in the global economy. EY operates in more than 150 countries around the world, and everywhere we work we are increasingly seeing the same essential fact: middle-market companies are the ones driving global economic growth.

    As part of this year’s Forum, we surveyed middle-market companies from over 30 different countries, including our global network of Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni. The results of this study — which we call the EY Growth Barometer — were striking. Once again, we found that for all the attention paid to the Fortune 500 and the largest, multinational companies, the truth is that these middle-market companies represent some 99% of all enterprises. Last year, they were responsible for almost half of global GDP.

    That economic importance is only going to continue because the middle-market companies we talked to are still some of the most optimistic in the world. Even in a moment of global uncertainty and economic caution, one in three of the companies we surveyed are still planning to grow between 6% and 10% this year. One in seven aspire to grow over 16%. These projections far outpace the latest World Bank global GDP growth forecasts of 2.7%.

    Yet some are even more ambitious. Among the most entrepreneurial group of respondents — an elite group drawn from Entrepreneur Of The Year alumni — more than one in five plan revenue growth of more than 26% this year.

    Entrepreneurs are leading us forward

    Given how important entrepreneurs and the middle market have become to our global economy, it might be a good idea to keep an eye on what happens in Monaco this week. There you’ll find entrepreneurs from countries as disparate as Estonia, Indonesia and the Czech Republic. They’re innovating and leading in every field — whether they are taking the kitchen utensil industry by storm, putting purpose first to lead the largest Indonesian-listed health care company in Southeast Asia, or making parcel and package delivery machines as common as ATMs.

    If you want to get a sense of where the global economy is going, look at entrepreneurs and middle-market companies.

    These entrepreneurs — and the rest of the country winners — are leading their respective industries and paving the way for others to follow. So if you want to get a sense of where the global economy is going, look at entrepreneurs and middle-market companies like these. That’s where so much of the innovation, determination and hard work that drives the economy forward is taking place.

    Originally published on Linkedin Pulse. 

  • Mark Weinberger
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