Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017: If event is to achieve results, it must get over Ivanka Trump obsession

The bangle-seller was extra eager to bring out the special piece his artisans had crafted. Mohammed Waseem opened the packaging carefully, almost as if to prolong the suspense. On display was a glittering piece, studded with stones that read 'Ivanka'. Sitting at his store at Lad Bazaar by the Charminar, Waseem wished Ivanka would take the time to go bangle-shopping so that he could get an opportunity to gift her the Ivanka bangles.

 Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017: If event is to achieve results, it must get over Ivanka Trump obsession

Jewellery crafted especially for Ivanka Trump by Mohammed Waseem's artisans. Firstpost/TS Sudhir

The gesture gives you a sense of what the Global Entrepreneurship Summit is all about. Much to the discomfiture of many officials in the organising party, the GES 2017, being organised for the first time in South Asia, has become more about Ivanka and less about the 1500 entrepreneurs who are attending the summit.

"This is not the way we had envisaged it," said an official on condition of anonymity, "The media too is more interested in writing about the designer who created Ivanka's dress for the inauguration rather than what this global meeting of entrepreneurs, most of them women, could mean."

He has a point. The GES, if what has been on show so far is anything to go by, has become an occasion for both Hyderabad and the people associated with it to show they matter.

First, the venue: Hyderabad now has a chip on its shoulder because it bagged this prestigious event that any other city in India would have loved to host. Amitabh Kant, CEO of Niti Aayog went on record to say that three cities including Hyderabad were in the race to host GES 2017.

"In the end, on all parameters, Hyderabad was way ahead of the other two cities and that is why it was chosen as the host," said Kant.

The inside story of how Hyderabad won the race, received a further endorsement when Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his inaugural speech spoke of the summit as a connection between Silicon Valley and Hyderabad. That won't be music to Bengaluru's ears because India's IT capital has worn the unofficial tag of being India's Silicon Valley for a long time.

What GES 2017 does is to give a fillip to Hyderabad and India's youngest state that is also joint number one with Andhra Pradesh in the Ease of Doing Business rankings. Showcasing its T-Hub — that is an ecosystem that mentors start-ups, Hyderabad has gained the reputation of being an innovation hub. And the city got a thumbs up from Ivanka Trump herself when she said that Hyderabad's tech centres may even outshine the city's world famous biryani. That was after Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, as the host, asked everyone to relish the Hyderabadi biryani during their visit.

What the GES will do for Hyderabad then is to put it on the international radar as a city, keen to aggressively embrace the cutting edge of technology and entrepreneurship. Officials in the Telangana government say it is crucial to take advantage of the PR edge Hyderabad achieves as a result of hosting this mega event and follow it up with striking partnerships with different cities in the world.

Not that Brand Hyderabad is not a reality. As many as five most valued companies in the world, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, have their largest presence outside the US in Hyderabad. That GES 2017 will help it underline its potential and leverage its branding a notch higher, is the expectation.

Participants and delegates at the GES on Tueday. Twitter @narendramodi

Participants and delegates at the GES on Tueday. Twitter @narendramodi

This is not exactly music to the ears of the man who actually helped create the IT city of Hyderabad and its brand equity. Chandrababu Naidu, reports said, was keen on Ivanka visiting Andhra Pradesh as well with a pitstop either at Amaravati or in Visakhapatnam but her tight schedule did not allow that. Andhra Pradesh government officials denied any such effort was made, commenting with a hint of sarcasm, "We are quite happy with Bill Gates." The former Microsoft chief was in Vizag earlier this month.

Strangely, no invite was extended to Naidu to attend the summit. But he did not go unrepresented, albeit in his private capacity. His daughter-in-law Brahmani was a delegate, wearing the hat of an entrepreneur as she is involved in the running of Heritage Foods.

"My mother-in-law and I run the company so in that sense, what we practise is in sync with the theme of the GES — Women First, Prosperity for All," said Brahmani.

But at the same time, the profile of the 350-member strong American delegation has left some in doubt if the GES has the complete backing of the US government. The internal politics on Capitol Hill is believed to have ensured Ivanka's delegation was shorn of both the sheen and the seniority of government officials. The feeling is that the GES is seen as a legacy of the Barack Obama era and observers are not quite sure how much the present administration is vested in it.

If GES 2017 has to achieve substantial results over the next two days, it has to go beyond its obsession with Ivanka Trump. Scores of Indian entrepreneurs are looking at this opportunity to pitch their ideas to investors and mentors who have come from 120-odd other countries, hoping to find synergy and common ground. With a number of Indian-Americans part of the US delegation, Hyderabad will be a forum both for storytelling about the mistakes they made, but also to provide some global wind beneath Indian entrepreneurial wings.

Updated Date: Nov 29, 2017 07:52:29 IST