At the end, it is really not about the money!

At the end, it is really not about the money!

At the end, it is really not about the money!

Monday, September 28, 2020, by Andrew McDonald, Chair, Small Business Investment Committee, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

At the end, it is really not about the money!

Monday, September 28, 2020, by Andrew McDonald, Chair, Small Business Investment Committee, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

It’s’ not just about the money ……….

Across the global we continuingly hear financial commentators and academics highlighting the importance of SMEs and the role they play in various countries in employment, engines of economic growth, social development and how they account for large percentages of GDP and as such how the countries prospects for prosperity and the development of healthy market economies rest on them.

In addition, whilst access to finance is high on everyone’s list when people talk about the challenges for SMEs, which restrict their ability to develop and flourish, we must ask if it is the only aspect holding back the development of sustainable enterprises – because if it was then surely it is a simple fix (Read more…).

The Stakeholder Share: Entrepreneurship’s Return to Its Roots

The Stakeholder Share: Entrepreneurship’s Return to Its Roots

The Stakeholder Share: Entrepreneurship’s Return to Its Roots

Saturday, September 8, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy

The simple act of transforming our previous consideration as shareholders as the most important aspect in a corporation to integrating stakeholders as active contributors can work significantly toward establishing a culture of humane entrepreneurship.

This week, having started the New Professor Program, we have been reflecting much on the elements necessary as we build entrepreneurship that is focused on innovation for humanity and the pursuit of business opportunities for profit, society well-being, sustainability, and the integration of all people. These concepts are not new to this organization nor its members. However, as we have previously taken time to specifically examine opportunities for wealth generation, sustainable practices and cycles of growth, and humane inclusion, we have yet had a chance to discuss the importance of societal well-being. To properly portray how community well-being can be illuminated in our new and humane normal, we need to examine our understanding of stakeholders’ and shareholders’ role and relationship to an enterprise.

Humane Entrepreneurship can be thought of as the harmony of applied innovation, the pursuit of business opportunities for profit, and the sustainable well-being of society, which is for the people and by the people. It is, in essence, a humane way of treating entrepreneurship, where the well-being of each individual is paramount. This is an excellent concept, but it becomes interesting when we look to our historical roots, examining the operational environment. Returning to 1970, Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman announced that any business who pursued a goal other than making money was “an unwitting puppet of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” His declaration was taken as religion, and for the next 40 some years, we, collectively, viewed shareholders as the only group to indeed have a moral claim on the corporation, which existed, in essence, to maximize their value, specifically, the bottom line. However, as we know, corporations, just as individuals and communities, do not exist in silos, nor do their company practices. In recent years, the evil and unprecedented harm on cities worldwide for the sake of the bottom line has become more visible thanks to innovations in technology, which allow people to see both the social successes and havoc caused by enterprises globally.

Next, we might look to Edward Freeman, an American philosopher. He, around the same time, stated, conversely, that many groups can make moral claims on the corporation because the corporation has the potential to harm or benefit these groups. Freeman’s theory can encompass a variable that Friedman forgot, which would be the stakeholders. Including the owners, corporate managers, the local community, customers, employees, suppliers, stakeholders are essential to the survival and success of the corporation as their relationship with the corporation affects them.

A little over a year ago, many of us applauded the Business Roundtable’s incredible statement, declaring “181 CEOs of American’s largest corporations overturned a 22-year-old policy statement that defined a corporation’s principal purpose as maximizing shareholder return.” A glorious moment in history and a small victory for the ICSB community. After nearly five years of attempts to bring visibility to this alternative perspective of viewing stakeholders as merit holders of an enterprise and organization, a significant collective, such as the Business Roundtable, decided to assist in welcoming in the transition to a more humane centered view of the enterprise.

This modality of transforming our previous consideration of shareholders as contributors and stakeholders as invisible to critical is a significant step in establishing a culture of humane entrepreneurship that works to heal rather than hurt. We kindly thank organizations, such as the Business Roundtable, for their action towards a better tomorrow. However, given the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ask organizations such as this, what next? Almost a month after a lockdown in the United States in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Business Roundtable addressed Vice President Pence in a letter, stating that:

“We appreciate the efforts of the Trump Administration and many Governors to begin the difficult work of developing economic recovery plans. It is important to plan now for the gradual lifting of some restrictions on activity when policymakers, guided by public health officials, conclude the time is right. This work is especially important to small and medium-sized businesses — many of whom are our customers and suppliers — and for individuals and families who are bearing the brunt of the current crisis” (Business Roundtable, 2020).

These kind words are essential from an organization such as this, but we must now ask, how are you and your invested CEOs honoring stakeholders at this moment? When an organization declares the importance of stakeholders openly, they must act appropriately in their communities when pressure tightens. We must tread lightly and be aware that while we make this gallant movement back to our roots and Freeman’s emphasis on stakeholders, we do not mean to repeat history. Move to stakeholder inclusion, promoted by the lens of Humane Entrepreneurship, is not intended to enable philanthropic or socially responsible acts, nor are we promoting the re-establishment of social entrepreneurship. We are specifically and directly asking for a holistic approach that incorporates social achievements (the Sustainable Development Goals) and focuses on the Employees to accelerate and sustain solutions and increase opportunities on a local and global level.

We look forward to reports which cover how corporations involved in the Business Roundtable look to create more job opportunities and to empower their current employees, even in moments such as this. How are foundational organizations, such as this, providing an equitable policy that allows parents to successfully do their work, while feeling supported to care for their children learning from home? How can we ensure that we keep up with ecological policies that care for our local communities is necessary ways to continue our combat against climate change? How are organizations, such as this, advocating for fair and inclusive policies for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and appropriate measures that ensure that these MSMEs have access to such aid? We commend your service to stakeholders, and we provide that we will stay current with how you uphold your practice of Humane Entrepreneurship at this moment.

We, your supporters, and your stakeholders are watching and waiting.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy,

President and CEO, ICSB and Deputy Chair of the Department of Management, GW School of Business

Small matters. How much employment is there in self- employment and in micro and small enterprises?

Small matters. How much employment is there in self- employment and in micro and small enterprises?

Small matters. How much
employment is there in self- employment and in micro and small enterprises?

Monday, September 21, 2020 by Dragan Raddic, Head of SME Unit Enterprises Department at International Labour Organization (ILO)

Small matters. How much
employment is there in self- employment and in micro and small enterprises?

Monday, September 21, 2020 by Dragan Raddic, Head of SME Unit Enterprises Department at International Labour Organization (ILO)

How relevant are micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises for the future of work? What about the self-employed?

Until recently, relatively limited worldwide empirical evidence was available to answer the above questions. Many earlier studies relied on data from formally registered firms, leaving the informal economy, which in many countries is the largest contributor to employment, out of the picture. There has been growing recognition of the role, in particular, of self-employment and micro-enterprises in driving employment, yet the evidence base is still not well developed.

Drawing on a new ILO database, ILO’s 2019 « Small Matters » report provides an up-to-date and realistic assessment of the contribution of self-employment and micro- and small enterprises (hereafter referred to as “small economic units”) to employment – both in the formal and the informal economy – across the globe.

A key finding is that, globally, the self-employed and micro- and small enterprises (hereafter referred to as “small economic units”) account for 70 per cent of total employment.

The estimates presented in the report are based on a new ILO database that draws on national household and labour force surveys (as opposed to firm-based surveys) from 99 countries in all the world regions except for North America. Because these surveys target people rather than firms, they are able to cover self-employment and employment in all types of enterprises:

  • Enterprises from all size classes: micro-enterprises (with 2 to 9 employees), small enterprises (with 10 to 49 employees) and medium-sized/large enterprises (with 50 or more employees)[1];
  • Enterprises from the informal as well as the formal sector;
  • Enterprises from agriculture, industry and services (including public services).(Read more…).
Answering key questions around informality in micro and small enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis

Answering key questions around informality in micro and small enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis

Answering key questions around informality in micro and small enterprises during the COVID-19 crisis

Sunday, September 20, 2020, by The International Labour Organization

Understanding how informal enterprises are affected by the Covid-19 crisis is of central importance for identifying effective responses and designing support strategies that can encounter the socioeconomic impacts of the global pandemic. This document provides answers to a set of questions that address, for example, how governments and other actors can effectively reach out to informal economic units, the kind of support that is needed and what might be effective ways to reduce the risk of informalization of formal jobs and economic units. It is a living document that will be updated with additional practical insights on ongoing basis.
The Origins of the term Sustainable Development

The Origins of the term Sustainable Development

The Origins of the term Sustainable Development

Saturday, September 19, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy

We have imagined tomorrow’s world. It is a world that celebrates and nurtures the essential diversity of life, cultures, and peoples.

In declaring an end to the status quo, we are simultaneously admitting and choosing to move towards sustainability, human-focused efforts, and ecological endeavors that uplift the human-Earth symbiotic relationship. In our efforts to seek sustainable efforts and to foster sustainable practices within and throughout entrepreneurship, we must first define the term, so that we can more greatly embody its cyclical, caring, and forward-focused nature.

On an unassuming day in November 1998, in Fontainebleau, 25 miles outside Paris, one of the most significant environmental conferences of the 20th century was finding its conclusion. During the previous three days, 350 inspired leaders, policymakers, and scientists from around the world had gathered to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and to reflect on the organization’s historic achievements since its founding in 1948. During the conference, however, rather than focus solely on past successes, IUCN positioned itself as a visionary among conservation organizations by bringing attention to the future under the theme of “Imagine Tomorrow’s World.” In doing this, IUCN laid the foundations of the developing concept and understanding of the “Ecozoic Era,” a period of enhanced human-Earth symbiosis beginning at the commencement of the 2nd millennium and continuing into the present day.

The commemoration’s concluding “Appel de Fontaintainebleau,” or the Fontainebleau Challenge reflected the tripartite attention of the organization: human consumption, ecological conservation, and our interdependent communities. In their universal appeal to the attending chiefs of state, IUCN declared:

We have imagined tomorrow’s world. It is a world that celebrates and nurtures the essential diversity of life, cultures, and peoples. It is a world in which we will embrace a new environmental ethic that recognizes that without nature, there is no happiness, no tranquility, no life…Our challenge is not just to imagine, but to build a world that values and conserves nature and that is confident in its commitment to equity.[1]

IUCN’s historic challenge to its members established an organizational philosophy of connectedness between humans and the earth and, thus, ushered in an enhanced understanding of sustainable development. Out of many heads of state in attendance, the commitment of the French government, specifically, to bridge conservation initiatives with sustainable ecological management was cemented through the attendance of Jacques Chirac, the French President (1995–2007). President Chirac gave opening remarks at the conference, and the French Prime Minister, Lionel Jospin (1997–2002), concluded the event with an endorsement of the ICUN’s work.

Amongst all of the speeches and remarks were given by key world and environmental leaders, the history-altering moment was surprisingly mentioned as an off-hand comment during a reception and tour of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. In his welcoming remarks, Henry de Lumley, former Director of the Museum from 1994–1999, mentioned the term “development durable,” meaning sustainable or resilient development, which happened first to be used at the Museum 1920s. The employment of this term came as a surprise.

Those who participated throughout the preparatory process for the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or the so-called “Earth Summit,” in Rio de Janeiro had assumed that the term originated from the Brundtland Commission in the 1980s. By 1983, the UN had documented growing worldwide environmental degradation over the previous ten years, affecting both human and natural resources. Out of a need to rally UN countries to commit to unified preventative actions against a worsening environment, the UN established the World Commission on Environment and Development, which ultimately became known as the Brundtland Commission, to recognize former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland’s role as Commission Chair. During the next four years, the Commission documented, analyzed, and formulated action plans to tackle environmental challenges, culminating in the publication of a landmark report in 1987, titled Our Common Future. Through the report, the term “sustainable development” became an accepted term in the international development lexicon. An oft-used definition taken from the report defines sustainable development as “a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs.[2]

Our Common Future fundamentally changed the way development work was both engaged with and experienced. By pivoting the focus of development from isolated economic actions to a holistic process, the needs of the present community — both human and other — are met “without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”[3] Through research, it has not been able to find any proof to validate Director de Lumley’s reference to the term sustainable development dating back to the 1920s. However, his statement has permanently imprinted itself into the minds of many due to the remarks singular importance spoken in the exact place that demonstrates how natural and human worlds can appropriately exist together.

The National Museum of Natural History serves as a place that, compellingly, draws us back through millennia while simultaneously propelling us into the future. With its unique ability to communicate publicly through its exhibits, the National Museum of Natural History allows visitors to understand how we, humans, developed as a species on earth, tracing the origins of life and our development as a species from the Cenozoic, Mesozoic, and Paleozoic eras into the present day. In drawing these connections, visitors can understand our intrinsic connection to the world around us and the cosmos, while realizing that we have entered a new era: the “Ecozoic Era” as coined by Thomas Berry, a cultural historian, in his 1989 book The Universe Story, co-written with Brian Swimme. The “Ecozoic Era” can best be described as the “geologic era in which humans live in a mutually enhancing relationship with Earth and the Earth community.”[4]

Berry’s writings, ruminating on humanity’s relationship to the natural world, were provoked mainly by the environmental crises he witnessed during his lifetime in the 20th century. He urged his fellow humans to recognize their unique position on a planet within a vast and complex ecosystem and evolving universe. A quote from The University Story best represents his philosophy, “The world is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”[5] Berry’s philosophy aligned closely with the Brundtland Commission’s model of sustainable development in that it recognized the mutually entangled benefits of ecological conservation to environmental and human populations.

Barry’s sustainable philosophy was deeply influenced by the teachings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher, geologist, and Jesuit Catholic priest. They theorized the relationship and evolutionary development of both the material and the spiritual world. While Teilhard’s writings were rooted in his greater belief in a divine presence, his various works became, after his death in 1955, a catalyst for developing the concept of the interlinking enhancement of humanity, the natural world, and the cosmos as a whole. A key component of Teilhard’s work was the notion of the noosphere, which he envisioned as a body of knowledge, human consciousness, or mental activity surrounding the earth, similar to the atmosphere, which worked to influence the biosphere and to continue its evolution. This concept has origins in the research of biogeochemist Vladimir Vernadsky; however, it differs in that Teilhard’s understanding of the noosphere stems from theology rather than science.

While initially considered to be a new age theory by established scientists, the creation of the Internet, which so to speak, surrounds the globe with a body of knowledge, as well as the more recent research connecting human ecosystems to the human impact on the biosphere has led to renewed interest in the noosphere theory. Despite its scientific flaws, it is clear that Teilhard’s early emphasis on sustainability and desire to find harmony between human and biological actions is critical to our current understanding of sustainable development.

Since Teilhard’s earliest philosophical writings, we have come full circle as a society in confirming the interconnected nature of humans and the world around us and the need for heightened development of sustainability. Being reminded of that memorable statement, made almost 22 years ago, in a setting that took usback through geologic eras and forwards into our present and ever-developing civilization, we are hopeful. We only now realize the significance of the National Museum in Paris, the Ecozoic era, and our collective understanding of “resilient and sustainable development.” In a time of pandemic and uncertainty, the idea of a shared future and harmony between humanity and nature brings hope and resolve to carry forward through our efforts towards sustainable development.

In the realm of entrepreneurship specifically, then, where does this leave us? As we walked through the overwhelming chaos and left the status quo behind, we made the decision, intentionally or unintentionally, to choose the path of the human. This is not mistaken as something that ignores our surrounding nature, but rather human-centered entrepreneurship is sustainable development. When the earth is cared for and respected, the human population becomes healthier, more active, and more empowered to make a further change for their species and others. It is the practice of Humane Entrepreneurship, which will one day transition from company culture to a global, cultural force that ensures both inputs and outcomes are grounded in sustainable ways. From the care of the environment and attention to the ozone to ensuring adequate standards for food quality and equitable opportunity for all, Humane Entrepreneurship is the vessel that will carry us into our sustainable world.

As we prepare for the upcoming 2021 ICSB World Congress in Paris, we are focusing on moving beyond Humane Entrepreneurship as a concept to be discussed but as one to be practiced. By making the conference exceptionally inclusive, we will share and learn how organizations are acting sustainably and how we, as a community, can act as a resource for small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world to implement and advance in their practice of Humane Entrepreneurship to nurture a sustainable and more resilient environment for all.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, President and CEO, ICSB and Deputy Chair of the Department of Management, GW School of Business

Mr. Richard Jordan. Founder & Co-CEO of World Harmony Foundation

[1] “Annual Report IUCN 1998,” IUCN, 17.

[2] “Our Common Future,” World Commission on Environment and Development, 9.

[3] Ibid, 8.

[4] Allysyn Kiplinger, “What does Ecozoic mean?” The Ecozoic Times. 16 Sept 2020. https://ecozoictimes.com/what-is-the-ecozoic/what-does-ecozoic-mean/#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9CEcozoic%20era%E2%80%9D%20was,Earth%20and%20the%20Earth%20community.

[5] Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era — A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos (New York: HarperCollins, 1989), 243.