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Kauffman Foundation’s Thom Ruhe calls community “a form of currency”

It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, there are communities to be built and strengthened. From Kansas City to Bangladesh, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation vice president of entrepreneurship Thom Ruhe is spreading the message. In his presentation at our Big Kansas City event last week, Ruhe focused on the story of Sohael Chowdhury, founder of the Younger Entrepreneurs and Leaders League.

Chowdhury has taken the reins of championing entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, where he’s battled political restraints to forward the cause despite being arrested and detained for his efforts. Ruhe initially met him about two years ago at a Global Entrepreneurship Week event and came away impressed with his passion. The two of them ran into each other this year, when Chowdhury signed on as a Bangladesh delegate for the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC)—an interdisciplinary gathering of startup champions from around the world co-hosted by the Foundation—despite the possibility of being detained again.

Chowdhury passion has affected Ruhe, affirming his work in building communities. “I really think that community is a form of currency,” Ruhe said. “People are starting to understand how to leverage community.”

Ruhe relayed what he considers the “bookends of community”—education and entrepreneurship—on scales small and large. The Foundation put 67 percent of its funds into Kansas City in 2012, but he said the mission of the GEC and everything Kauffman does is to connect entrepreneurial communities around the world, including reaching out to people like Chowdhury to hear their insight.

“We’re all a part of this community and we’re in this together,” he said. “(Kauffman is) trying to equip communities with the tools, resources and networks” to get started.

Big Kansas City is a two-and-a-half-day event that aims to inspire, educate and celebrate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the heart of the Midwest. Produced by Silicon Prairie News, it’s part of the Big Series, the nation’s most ambitious events on innovation and entrepreneurship.


Credits: Video by Quadrant5. Snippet photo by Kenny Johnson Photography.

The Big Kansas City Video Series is presented by NIC, Inc.

NIC Inc. is the nation’s leading provider of official government portals, online services, and secure payment processing solutions. The company’s innovative eGovernment services help reduce costs and increase efficiencies for government agencies, citizens, and businesses across the country.

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