My journey to the G20 YEA Summit

1 November 2019

Written by Eugene Dragut

The personal histories of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have always been an inspiration to me, and their journeys to becoming entreprenuers have provided me with a sense of awe. Call it a case of ‘imposter syndrome,’ but I never really considered myself as one. It wasn’t until I heard of UQ alumnus Rachel Huang, who developed an omnidirectional small-scale wind turbine startup known as Powersphere, that entrepreneurship became an achievable goal in my mind. As a student, I also had the rare privilege of accessing resources from UQ organisations including Ventures and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Society.

Before long, armed with an innovative idea for the medical industry and the support of the Westpac Scholars’ community, I found myself in Fukuoka, Japan, attending the 2019 G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance (YEA) Summit as an Australian delegate. This unique opportunity was made possible through Usman Iftikhar, a fellow Westpac Scholar and co-founder of Catalysr. This year Catalysr took the reins from the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) in leading the Australian delegation, made up of 11 entrepreneurs.

Prior to the summit, we met with the Australian Trade and Investment (Austrade) Commissions in Tokyo and Fukuoka. I was astounded by the magnitude and level of trade between the two countries; it opened my mind to the importance of Japan as a strong international partner. We also had the opportunity to meet with leaders of other prominent companies in Japan including Unilever, Kyushu Railway and Pokémon Company.

Presenting the theme of “Imagination Economy for a Sustainable Future”, the summit focused on the impact of new technology driving new and uncharted aspects of the economy, and how imagination is at the heart of truly ground-breaking innovations. Proposals for a sustainable future ranged from considering environmental impacts and socially responsible bottom lines to long term, multi-decade approaches to building enduring companies and communities.

With the conference behind us, we are only at the beginning of our journey. The core purpose of the G20 YEA is to engage with G20 leaders to coordinate global action on shared priorities for young entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs and Small-to-Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) are the main job creators in the G20 economies, employing more than two-thirds of the private sector workforce and providing more than 80% of net job growth.

Australian delegates at the summit

The summit delegates worked with the Junior Chamber International Japan and the Japanese Trade Minister, who committed to personally delivering the summit’s recommendations to Japan’s Parliament and to the other world leaders at the G20 summit in June. It was inspiring to see the commitment of the Japanese Government to consider the YEA recommendations. The Australian delegation still has a way to go in engaging the Australian government, with fellow delegates and myself endeavouring to connect with Federal and State ministers, so policies may be implemented in accordance with the recommendations.

The most inspiring aspect for me however, was the diversity and representation from the Australian delegation. We had members from early stage healthcare companies, entrepreneurship education providers, tech start-ups, professional services, consumer goods, and product manufacturing and exporting. The group was also diverse in terms of students and experienced entrepreneurs, almost 40% women, and had several minority representations with our Sherpa, Vivek Mahadevan, commenting, “I’m really proud to lead such a strong and distinct delegation to represent Australia overseas.” I also came to highly respect Aimee Zheng, another Australian delegate and somebody I considered a mentor throughout my time in Japan. She led the establishment of a G20 YEA Women’s group, in an effort to empower female entrepreneurs.    

Catalysr is hoping to continue the momentum and is already planning for next year’s summit in Saudi Arabia. If you consider yourself “an ideas person” or an entrepreneur, I encourage you to apply to become an Australian delegate at the 2020 summit. You’ll be exposed to the importance of entrepreneurship in shaping Australia’s, and the world’s future. For more information on the summit, how you can get involved, or to read the official communique featuring the recommendations of the YEA summit, please visit