ENTREPRENEURSHIP. When the story is written five hundred years from now about what made the United States so extraordinary for so long, I think it will come down to two things: freedom/opportunity and entrepreneurship. While the US is famous for Starbuck's, Google, Subway, Avon, Uber and Amazon -- 90% of the businesses in the US are under 20 employees. They were all started by visionary and determined entrepreneurs and collectively represent 40% of our economy. Those small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures are the innovation engine for sustaining our growth and prosperity. It is the skill, courage and ecosystem that turns small businesses into really big ones. And while it can look serendipitous, it rarely is.
Businesses are increasingly relying on entrepreneurs for their next big product offerings. General Mills -- one of the largest food companies in the world -- recently decided to become 'the best big small company' innovating from within, and partnering or purchasing new entrepreneurial ventures that have created new products or markets. Most pharmaceutical companies nowadays are buying their new big thing from entrepreneurs.
Governments are wondering if Silicon Valley is replicable and if so, how they can better support entrepreneurs. Many from Estonia to Singapore to Mexico have entrepreneurship as a key element of their economic development policy. As part of our foreign policy initiative President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knew seeding entrepreneurship globally was one of the best things we could do to provide more freedom for people in developing regions and politically fragile places. And prominent Republicans and Independents regularly point to the transformative power of giving people an opportunity to take an idea to scale.