pbahra writes: "Conferences for start-ups and entrepreneurs often feature "pitch contests," slots in which aspiring entrepreneurs take to the stage to sell their ideas to the audience. Last month's ArabNet conference, held in the Lebanese capital, was no different. What was different, however, was the number of pitches from female entrepreneurs. The stereotype has it that women in the Middle East are subjugated, oppressed and barely let out of their houses. But if that is the case, how come 40% of the pitches were from women—a higher percentage than is typical in equivalent conferences held in Europe? Nor was this closer-to-equal representation of women unique to ArabNet--other conferences in the region boast similar ratios."
pbahra writes: "One of the biggest cultural problems that entrepreneurs face in western Europe is the attitude to failure. In America and eastern Europe, failure is often seen as a stepping stone to success; in western Europe it is a wall. So how does that explain the success of Duane Jackson, CEO of KashFlow? A company that since 2004 has been selling accounting software for small businesses and today has over 10,000 customers and is still the only accounting software with certified PayPal integration. “I failed spectacularly,” he said. Spectacular means being arrested in early 1999 at the airport in Atlanta, Ga. attempting to smuggle in 6,500 ecstasy tablets. “I’m sometimes asked how I fell into crime. I didn’t fall into it. I grew up with it.” Growing up in children’s homes from the age of 11, Mr. Jackson taught himself how to program. “None of the secondary schools in Newham [London] would take me. The children’s home were left to teach me. So they locked me in the dining room with a few worksheets, but they also had a ZX Spectrum in there. I spent close to a year with the manual and learned how to program.”"