U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Friday at the Global Economic Summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, urging young entrepreneurs to "expand and broaden" the benefits of the world's interconnected nature, on the day after Britain completed a historic referendum resulting in a decision to exit the European Union.
Obama told his audience of young innovators that "the world has shrunk. It is interconnected." He said innovators are "catalyzing and accelerating that interconnection" despite its challenges and the fears it awakens.
Regarding the British vote, Obama said he spoke earlier Friday with outgoing British Prime Minister David Cameron, assuring him that the United States will maintain its "special relationship" with Britain.
He said he is confident that Britain is "committed to an orderly transition out of the EU." He said he also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and agreed to work closely with EU members in the weeks and months ahead.
Obama said the summit "is a place that celebrates our ability ... to discover and learn and build and question and reimagine," to create new ways to work with one another. He said the power of entrepreneurship is the power to transform the world. He said starting new businesses helps individuals and families succeed, putting people on the path to prosperity.
At the summit, global philanthropist Kamran Elahian told VOA that the Berkeley, California-based BIT-AMENA initiative, which educates young innovators in global entrepreneurship, wants to help create 10 million "innovation jobs" in the next 10 years.
Elahian said entrepreneurship is an alternative to the forces that fuel terrorism and unrest.
"We really need to understand that we are sitting on a ticking bomb and we need to go and create alternatives for these young people. ... We need to go inspire at least 50 million young people as early as high school to start to think that there is a way that they can become agents of change, that they can become high tech entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, and bring social impact into their countries," he said.
Elahian said such efforts are especially important to women, as they establish a more independent role in their communities.
"The women face additional obstacles because of cultural traditional values but it is the first time in the history of the evolution of our species that they have a chance, and many of them have noticed this," he said.
Obama noted in his remarks that, for the first time, 11 Cubans are attending the three-day summit, which wraps up on Friday.
VOA's Elizabeth Lee contributed to this story.