Victor W. Hwang is founder and CEO of Right to Start, a campaign fighting to rebuild the economy by making entrepreneurial opportunity available to all.

Before founding Right to Start, he was Vice President of Entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation, the world’s leading philanthropy supporting entrepreneurs. Hwang has written and spoken extensively as an economic growth expert and policy influencer.

Here he shares with Fuse an excerpt from “We Are All Starters,” his manifesto to renew ourselves and our nation:

We are born to be starters, makers, doers, dreamers. That spirit has driven our progress as a human species. To improve the world around us, we create, invent, build, launch, construct, design, explore, and venture forth.

Each of us has a fundamental right to start our own thing, realize an idea, create something of value, forge a unique path, be master of our future. It’s not just about entrepreneurship in the narrowest business sense. It’s the right for all of us to be entrepreneurial and shape the destiny of our own lives.

That simplest of ideas—that all of us have the Right to Start—is basic to the human condition. When that Right is widespread, prosperity ripples across millions of lives in the form of jobs, productivity, dynamism, and opportunity.

All great things start small. Big rivers start as streams. Big trees start as saplings. “Little” guys and gals start “little” businesses that can grow into great ones, creating value for all of us.

But entrepreneurs can’t do it alone. Rather, entrepreneurship is a community endeavor. We need to be surrounded by other people who support our journeys because all new ideas start small and grow through webs of human relationships. Everyone can be a potential customer, partner, employee, referral, contractor, service provider, supplier, investor, or simply a friend who lends a hand.

It’s fitting that entrepreneurial networks are often called “ecosystems.” They are environments—like natural rainforests—that are dynamic and interconnected, where serendipitous value emerges from diverse interactions between all of us, where our whole is greater than the sum of our parts.

Fortunately, ecosystems can be built. Many of our communities have already begun.

Indeed, every community already starts with the basic ingredients they need. Building ecosystems is accessible to any community—no matter the size or shape, whether bounded by neighborhood, town, city, state, or region, or whether defined by demographic, socioeconomic, or geographic lines. And unlike other methods to grow economies—which often require significant cash or physical infrastructure—building ecosystems takes little cost to get started.

There’s an open door to join. One can change the world for the cost of a cup of coffee.

By building ecosystems, we unleash our starters.

By unleashing our starters, we unleash the latent economic might of our communities.

By unleashing our communities, we lift our nation.


Our thanks to Victor for sharing his inspiring words.

Download “We Are All Starters.”