The EZones Movement Unites Entrepreneurs In Shared Citizenry Of The World.

In a panel at the G7-G20 Group Of Nations Summit on Solutions Through Inclusivity, Dr. Dale G. Caldwell expressed concern at the division we are experiencing in today’s society. It feels, he said, as if every choice today is your side versus my side, your party versus my party, your ideology versus my ideology.

But Dr. Caldwell has an insight that points the way to transcending this impasse, and avoiding this collision. 

His insight concerns the global energy of entrepreneurship. He is the originator of the concept of Entrepreneurial Zones or EZones, place-based accelerators of economic growth and community prosperity based on harnessing the energy of entrepreneurship rather than the dependency of welfare and charity. The EZones concept can apply anywhere in the world to raise the economic productivity of communities, and to improve lives.

The entrepreneurs who supply the energy, as individuals, groups, teams, firms, and networks, are unified in the principles and practice of creating value. Entrepreneurship is a producer-customer value collaboration. In today’s interconnected world, the customer might be on one side of the globe while the producer is on the other, or the interaction could take place in a village marketplace. It’s all entrepreneurship.

The entrepreneurial citizens of the world are united not only by their common economic interests, but also by a set of shared human values. Entrepreneurship is an elevated form of interaction between people that rests on proud foundations.


Entrepreneurs demonstrate caring for their customers. They know that their customers are seeking to improve their own circumstances, whether in nutrition, connection, access to technology, availability of services, medical care, or any other field of life improvement. Because they care, entrepreneurs can identify new ways to reach higher ground for these customers, and make them a promise of better times ahead. They supply to meet others’ demand and to help them find value in a new and better experience.

The same caring extends to the community in which they operate. Entrepreneurs raise standards so that others can raise their expectations. 

And entrepreneurs care for themselves, aiming to achieve their own highest values in the pursuit of value for others.


What economists call demand can be characterized as people wishing that things could be better. They are dissatisfied, uneasy. Entrepreneurs feel concern for this condition, and they develop a passion to eradicate it, and take responsibility for trying to succeed in doing so.

The entrepreneurial role of improving others’ lives stems from this concern. Without it, we would not expect to see the amount of entrepreneurial energy that we do – the unrelenting effort to innovate and improve.


For caring and concern to be directed at the right goals and at the highest and best outcomes for customers, entrepreneurs look to their own powers of empathy – to truly understand and sympathize with the innermost feelings of others. Empathy enables entrepreneurs to identify what’s important to customers and why, and to understand what tradeoffs they’ll make to substitute a new set of circumstances for the one they experience today. 

When customers rank some preferences higher than others, or make comparisons between one choice and an alternative, it is empathy that helps entrepreneurs evaluate, and guides them in designing and shaping just the right solution to the customer’s felt but unarticulated need.

Empathy is the entrepreneur’s number one skill, wherever in the world they operate.


To be empathic requires humility, the suppression of one’s own ego-based certainty for the process of discovery of what’s right for the customer. The entrepreneur does not instruct the customer, or impose any conditions on them, or set unreasonable requirements. The entrepreneur asks and inquires, seeking to understand, to get on the customer’s wavelength, to understand their mindset. They design their products and services in the humble desire to be of value.


The entrepreneur is a promise-maker and a promise-keeper. The promise to make life better and to be of value must be viewed as credible. The customer must feel able to depend on the producer. There must be trust, and a reputation must be earned. Entrepreneurs understand this, because it shows up in their P&L. What is sometimes referred to as goodwill or brand equity is, in fact, the trust and reputation that are the product of dependability. 


These characteristics and traits of entrepreneurs are true the world over, whatever the local history or norms or culture or institutional framework. Entrepreneurs treat everyone as a customer, and therefore they grant them the same high status, whatever physical differences there may be.

In fact, entrepreneurship itself is an institution – a set of shared global norms about value and production and trust and interactive collaboration. Entrepreneurship is a unifying code of conduct, a binding pact between producers to strive for the best way to serve customers, and among customers to collaborate in the co-creation of value by demanding the best from every producer. 

Dr. Caldwell’s insight is that all the world’s entrepreneurs share citizenship through this institution. There is no division. All entrepreneurs are striving toward the same goals, but there is no animosity in the rivalry to serve customers in the best way. There is shared learning, since outcomes are freely observable for all to analyze and interpret. There is innovation that enables one producer to leap ahead, but only temporarily until the next response shuffles the leaderboard while raising everyone’s capacity. The dynamics of entrepreneurship result from the shared energy, the shared desire for continuous improvement.

Let’s celebrate this citizenry of the world, and repress the politicians’ desire to divide us. Their incentives are not entrepreneurial, and we should isolate them in their arena of hate while the rest of us join and support EZones as a worldwide movement to nurture and cultivate the shared human values and unlimited collaborative potential of entrepreneurship.

Four Simple Rules For Initiating Entrepreneur Zones Anywhere In The World.

Entrepreneur Zones or EZones are place-based accelerators located in economically challenged communities that result in a sustainable ecosystem creating local living wage jobs. The concept was originated by Dr. Dale G. Caldwell, the Executive Director of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Rothman Institute Of Innovation And Entrepreneurship.

An EZone is a collaboratory that provides guidance, training and financial support to companies within a specified geographic area. Coopetition, a form of mutuality where the businesses work together while competing for clients, is the key to ensuring that the businesses have the necessary support and skills. The goal is for these businesses to become profitable enough to generate as many jobs as possible in the local community.

Dr. Dale Caldwell, Professor Scott Livengood and Hunter Hastings will discuss EZones at the G7-G20 Group Of Nations
Solutions through Inclusivity Virtual Summit on November 17th, 2021


The science of systems-building has evolved significantly over recent decades. While recognizing that economic ecosystems emerge and grow as a result of a vast number of ongoing interactions between people, firms, neighborhoods, markets, supply chains, prices, jobs, education, health and many more, it is nevertheless possible to identify the web of causes that result in sustainability and economic thriving. Causality can be linked to a simple set of rules that everyone in the system knows and can follow; the rules become a culture and the culture nurtures successful outcomes.

The four simple rules for EZones are:

1) Through empathy, identify a desired valuable experience.

Entrepreneurs generate value for others – their customers. Value is a tricky thing to identify – it’s entirely in the mind of the customer, subjective and idiosyncratic and often changeable. EZone entrepreneurs actually enjoy a potential advantage. They live in the local community and are close to their neighbors and friends and have a better idea of the dissatisfactions people want to address. Maybe an entrepreneur knows that a mom in town would like to work at a paying job if only she could get help with cooking and laundry and babysitting or in-home teaching. Maybe the entrepreneur knows that the local quarry owner needs a special kind of driver for the under-maintained trucks that are finicky and unpredictable in their performance. Maybe the entrepreneur is aware of some artisinal craftsmanship that could find a market on Etsy. Empathy is the skill to identify others’ desires and dissatisfactions. Everyone is capable of empathy; the skill can easily be honed to apply in economic situations.

2) Translate empathy into a deliverable service.

There’s a gap between understanding another’s needs and successfully offering a solution that results in a transaction and a sale. The articulated (or unarticulated) need is never identified with perfect precision and the product or service that’s designed to meet it is never 100% accurately targeted. That’s OK. It’s normal. The task is to make the design deliverable. Can the entrepreneur bring the finished product or service to the customer in such a way that the customer can buy and the exchange can be made? Can the proposed in-home cooking and cleaning service recruit the right people that the customer will trust, train them and place them in the customer’s house on the right day for the right number of hours to perform the service in way the customer wants. This process is capacity building. How is the entrepreneur going to get the job done? What people are needed? What tools will they need? Will they be well-aligned with the mission of serving the customer? Capacity is the state of readiness.

3. Remove all barriers.

Even when capacity is built and aligned, there will be barriers to completing a market transaction – mostly in the mind of the customer. Is the price right? Are there alternatives i don’t know about or have not fully evaluated? Can I trust the entrepreneur to keep the promises made? Am I really ready to take this leap? The entrepreneur must be able to sense all these barriers (often unspoken) and maintain the energy to remove them as they arise. This phase of entrepreneurship has been likened to sharpening a pencil – the art of removing and removing until the point is as sharp as desired and ready to use for the purpose it was designed. Entrepreneurs are constantly sharpening.

4. Set up feedback loops.

Ecosystems grow and thrive as a consequence of their feedback loops. Feedback loops are a form of closeness to the customer – setting up mechanisms for monitoring, listening, data collection and adaptive response. It’s another aspect where EZone entrepreneurs are advantaged: they are in the community, naturally close to their customers both physically and emotionally, and open for communication. As they expand their markets beyond the community, including via the internet and e-commerce, they extend this natural advantage into better customer listening and customer service that will serve them well as their businesses grow.

These four simple rules – empathy, capacity, no-barriers and feedback – will guide EZone entrepreneurs in a system of networked value co-creation with customers that can scale to any level once it gets started.

How does it get started? There are 4 simple steps to energize the 4 simple rules.

Convene the network.

The “Big Bang” for the EZone ecosystem is the first convening. There are existing businesses and business owners in the EZone geography, and there are aspiring entrepreneurs who haven’t yet got started. There are community supporters who want to help – whether these be churches or associations or clubs or business roundtables. There are educational institutions, whether these be schools or colleges or universities. There may be some large firms (banks, for instance) who would like to support EZone growth. There might be non-profits and philanthropic organizations to help. There is technical infrastructure to be tapped. There may even be government support, although EZones don’t expect it and don’t want to be restricted by bureaucratic rules and impediments.

Physically bringing together all these groups to talk and begin thinking about a shared vision and mission is both necessary and sufficient to impart initial momentum to the EZone. Energy builds from this start.

Value Co-Creation Training.

Entrepreneurship is a learnable process. Professor Scott Livengood has designed a training curriculum specifically for EZones and their participants. It starts with developng the appropriate mindset, emphasizing that entrepreneurship is subjective and that the right mindset is the precursor to sound entrepreneurial judgment. The training is fun and engaging, encouraging and empowering. it imparts knowledge, skills and process and introduces tools for participants to use with immediate effect. Most importantly, it can imbue with confidence even those who are uncertain.

Let the exchange begin.

The secret to getting started is to get started. Entrepreneurship is exchange. The first exchange tumbles the dominoes. EZone training and infrastructure are in place to help entrepreneurs get everything ready to go, whether that is setting up digital or physical storefronts, initiating manufacturing, assembling supply chains, connecting to business partners, or developing sales and marketing campaigns. The checklist may be long but it is do-able. Entrepreneurs simply need the momentum to get up to – and one step beyond – the start line.

Explore and expand.

Once under way, the entrepreneurial process is relatively simple: continuously explore different elements and components of the value proposition, evaluate the customer acceptance via feedback loops, and do more of what works and none of what doesn’t. The explore and expand mechanism is a flywheel – it keeps on turning and growing and strengthening. Entrepreneurs quickly get to the point where momentum can take over and management and growth replace experimentation – but the EZone entrepreneur never stops exploring.

4 simple rules and 4 simple steps are sufficient for EZone acceleration from inception to expansion to sustainability.

Group Of Nations Embraces Inclusive Entrepreneurship To Reduce Global Poverty.

In The Ethics Of Capitalism, leading economist Jesus Huerta de Soto argues that the most just society will be the society that most forcefully promotes the entrepreneurial creativity of all the human beings who compose it. When we think of a global society, we can then understand that entrepreneurship is the path away from injustice, and from poverty, for all the world.

At the G7-G20 Solutions Through Inclusivity Virtual Summit on Nov 17, 2021, I’ll be making this case along with my colleagues Dr. Dale Caldwell from Fairleigh Dickinson University and Professor Scott Livengood from Arizona State University.

Entrepreneurship is a philosophy of universal individual creativity and capability. Everyone has a sense of how the world can be made better, and entrepreneurship is the universal method of achieving that betterment. It starts with an attitude that all people share: a continual eagerness to seek out, discover, create or identify new benefits, and better conditions. Economists use the term value – a feeling that the new circumstances suit people better than the status quo. People aim at experiencing value.

Entrepreneurial creativity is a shared activity of consumers and producers. It’s hard to say where it begins, and the co-creation never ends. We might say that consumers or customers initiate the process by expressing dissatisfaction – the feeling that things could be better, and they’re not better yet. They don’t know the solution to their dissatisfaction, and they may not be able to articulate it very well, but they have the feeling. Every human being feels it in some way, every day, everywhere in the world. Dissatisfaction is a universal resource for entrepreneurial initiative.

The role of the entrepreneurial producer is to sense this dissatisfaction. The entrepreneur’s antennae are always up and quivering, scanning the environment for dissatisfaction they can utilize as the source of an idea. There’s a skill for doing this well: we call it empathy. Empathy is the ability to think as if you were inside the customer’s mind, feeling what they are feeling, experiencing their emotions. Empathy can be refined as a business skill, but it’s inherent in everyone. It’s how the human race gets along. It’s the principle behind every trade and every exchange. The entrepreneur understands how to make the customer feel less dissatisfaction, and more satisfaction through trade. The closer the entrepreneur and customer are connected – the deeper the empathy – the better the producer becomes at satisfying the need, and the happier the customer becomes in the confidence that their needs can and will be met.

All of these feelings, this empathy, and this creativity come naturally to people all over the globe. Entrepreneurship is the human condition. It’s the social coordination function of matching people’s most important wants with the available resources and goods and services that fulfill those wants.

Where people might need some help is in implementation of this coordination function. That’s where the concept of Entrepreneur Zones or EZones comes in – the idea that Dr. Caldwell and Professor Livengood and I are presenting to the Group Of Nations. The word “Zones” implies a physical location – and that’s exactly what we envision. An EZone can be located anywhere in the world, and it’s particularly appropriate for the energetic uplifting of a place that is currently in need – a developing nation, for example, or an underdeveloped inner-city in any of the developed countries, or a community anywhere.

One of the steps in EZone development is training – encouraging the entrepreneurial mindset and communicating the steps of the entrepreneurial process. It’s a knowledge process and the requisite knowledge is available to all: it’s subjective (we all have individual knowledge); practical (how to help people); it’s exclusive because it’s individual and that has immense economic value; tacit, meaning it’s not well articulated, but we can draw it out of people through encouragement; and it’s creative, i.e. doesn’t require any resources, it’s developed out of nothing. When people understand the economic worth of their own knowledge, then we can teach them how to apply that knowledge in helping others to improve their lives. There are many pathways available to them. The formal technique is the value proposition, which includes a precise identification of the customer and their wants, and a precise description of what offer the entrepreneur will develop to assuage their wants. This proposition is easily testable – we can teach that, too.

A tested value proposition requires a business model and a development process to bring it to market. The process is also teachable and demonstrable. Part of the process is assembly of resources, including capital, but also supportive services and supply chains. We can teach the assembly methods, and make connections to all the resources, including how to negotiate, contract and collaborate in win-win arrangements.

Professor Livengood teaches entrepreneurship at the university level in the USA, and he has also gained first-hand experience with transferring and recalibrating that training for the poorest displaced refugees in camps in Africa. He discovered that the principles, processes, and practices remain the same, and that language and communication must be fine-tuned to the specific audience, in order to give them the confidence that successful entrepreneurship is in their reach. Dr. Caldwell is an active pastor as well as a university professor, and he has intimate first-hand knowledge of the entrepreneurial potential of people in deprived communities. Both Professor Livengood and Dr. Caldwell exemplify the multi-level applicability of the entrepreneurial method to the pursuit and achievement of prosperity for everyone.

Entrepreneurship is the best path upwards for every community. It’s moral, ethical, and economically sound. Entrepreneurship is the engine of prosperity and growth. It’s exciting and energizing for everyone in the community. The economic gains are broad and deep. Families are strengthened through both shared purpose and reliable income. The kids are better nourished and perform better at school. Violence and anti-social behavior are reduced because people are concentrating on economic opportunity. Jobs are created so that everyone in the community feels their own part of the opportunity. New services are drawn to the EZone, improving the quality of life. Larger companies come to town, attracted by the high-energy workforce and the quality of life in the community. The entrepreneurial community connects to the world and serves markets all over the globe while receiving new inbound services. Improved technology comes to town. Churches enjoy more attendance and their pastors feel renewed. The uplift is general and universal. There’ll be more communities looking over, liking what they see, and jumping on the bandwagon.

You can see the agenda for the Group Of Nations Summit here, register to attend here, and read more about the Solutions Through Inclusivity Summit here.