Our Background

Overview

In 1997 Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner sat down and, like many entrepreneurs before and after, sketched their vision on the back of a napkin. Endeavor would be a new kind of non-profit organization, dedicated to High-Impact Entrepreneurship: Identifying and supporting the continued growth of a select group of entrepreneurs in emerging market countries, creating jobs and adding revenues that would lay the groundwork for a new attitude towards entrepreneurship in those societies.

Peter had just returned from a Harvard Business School trip to China, where he had witnessed first-hand the boom in entrepreneurship that would transform that country. For Linda, the light bulb moment for Endeavor came in the back of a taxi cab in Buenos Aires. She struck up a conversation with the driver and was shocked to learn he had a PhD in Engineering. She asked if he hadn’t considered becoming an entrepreneur instead of driving a taxi. “An empresario?” he said dismissively, using the Spanish word for a big businessman. It suddenly occurred to her that there was no Spanish word for “entrepreneur.”

People initially thought the concept of High-Impact Entrepreneurship in emerging markets was crazy. No one believed there were entrepreneurs in developing economies let alone mentors who would support them. A small but passionate team ultimately convinced business leaders in Latin America to dedicate not only their money, but also their time and networks to Endeavor and its entrepreneurs. South Africa came next, followed by Turkey and a succession of countries in the Middle East.

The “business plan” that began on the back of a napkin has become a shared vision, cultivated and expanded by board members, staff and entrepreneurs around the globe. Their passion and commitment have created a movement and transformed Endeavor into something far bigger than the founders could have imagined. Today, emprendedor is a well-known term throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America and, in Brazil, two new words – empreendedor and empreendedorismo – have been added to the Portuguese lexicon.

Guided by Global board chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr. and recognized business leaders who chair each of our country affiliates, Endeavor is an organization of, by, and for entrepreneurs. Over 80% of our entrepreneurs give back to their local affiliates. Many have signed on to mentor the next generation. More than a dozen Endeavor Entrepreneurs now serve on our worldwide boards. Over 100,000 jobs have been created, billions of dollars contributed back into local economies and hundreds of role models now exist for young people in rapidly developing economies to pursue the path of entrepreneurship. The Endeavor Entrepreneurs continue to remind us that with the right resources, big ideas can happen and generate transformative change in economies around the world.

Timeline

  • 1997

    Endeavor is founded by Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner in the midst of an emerging market currency crisis brought on by the collapse of the Thai bhat.

  • 1998

    Launch in Chile & Argentina.

  • 1999

    Endeavor organizes its first venture forums, linking international investors with emerging market entrepreneurs.

  • 2000

    Launch in Brazil & Uruguay.

  • 2001

    Launch in Mexico. Endeavor selects its 100th Entrepreneur. Time magazine recognizes Linda Rottenberg as a “Top 100 Innovator for the 21st Century.”

  • 2002

    Endeavor companies grow by 62% in revenues despite the Latin American currency crisis. The first Harvard Business School case study about Endeavor is written and taught.

  • 2004

    Launch in South Africa. Edgar Bronfman, Jr. becomes chairman of Endeavor’s Global Board.

  • 2006

    Launch in Colombia & Turkey. James Wolfensohn, former president of The World Bank, joins Endeavor’s Global Board. Endeavor Brazil initiates Entrepreneur Give-Back program to support Endeavor’s sustainability goals.

  • 2007

    10th anniversary. MercadoLibre becomes the first Endeavor company to go public on the NASDAQ. Stanford GSB case study is written and taught. Give-Back program launched in Brazil; DentalCorp gives the first equity pledge to convert to cash.

  • 2008

    Endeavor receives a $10MM commitment from Omidyar Network. Linda Rottenberg co-chairs World Economic Forum – Middle East, and is named one of America’s Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. Wences Casares, one of the first Endeavor Entrepreneurs, joins the Global Board.

  • 2009

    Launch in Jordan, and opening of San Francisco satellite office. Formation of a research arm, the Endeavor Center for High-Impact Entrepreneurship, along with two new premium Global services: Mentor Capital and Top 25 programs. Endeavor Brazil engages 5.3MM people in Global Entrepreneurship Week. Second HBS case study is published, focused on Endeavor in the MENA region. Andy Freire becomes the first Entrepreneur to serve as a country board chairman (Argentina).

  • 2010

    Launch in Egypt. Endeavor’s CEO, MENA board members, and several Endeavor Entrepreneurs participate in US Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship. Endeavor Lebanon board is formed.

From the Entrepreneurship Blog

Events

40 High-Impact Entrepreneurs from 13 Countries Join Network at the 56th International Selection Panel in Miami; Endeavor Reaches Milestone of A Thousand Entrepreneurs Selected

December 12th, 2014 — by admin

Miami, FL – December 11, 2014 – Endeavor selected 40 high-impact entrepreneurs leading 22 companies in 13 countries at its 56th International Selection Panel. Endeavor now supports 1,030 High-Impac…

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In the news

2014 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Morocco Spotlights the Endeavor Network

December 1st, 2014 — by admin

The 5th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit took place in Marrakech, Morocco this year, serving as one of the world's largest celebrations of entrepreneurs who bring ideas to life by creating ente…

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