The United States 2023 Top Small Businesses

On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held its first America’s Top Small Business gala to honor this year’s seven regional finalists, who were chosen from a pool of nearly 15,000 applicants, and also announced the grand prize winner, who took home the $25,000 cash prize! 

ICSB recognizes the U.S. Chamber initiative and congratulates all the finalists and winner.

The U.S. Chamber announced that our 2023 grand prize winner for America’s Top Small Business:

Winner: Elderly Instruments of Lansing, Michigan!

Elderly Instruments, our Great Lakes region finalist, is a family-owned music shop with a mission of being a welcoming musical haven where all people, regardless of their background or musical experience, can play and purchase affordable, quality fretted instruments and accessories at great prices.

Now on its second generation of leadership, Lillian Werbin, daughter of co-founder Stan Werbin, runs the establishment with a staff of nearly 40 full-time employees and remains dedicated to valuing not only her team but also her community, taking part in revitalizing Old Town Lansing and actively supporting both national and local nonprofit initiatives that lift the voices of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color within the bluegrass genre.

[Read more about Elderly Instruments here: Elderly Instruments Aims to Be a ‘Conservator of Musical Heritage’]

The U.S. Chamber also announced the finalists for America’s Top Small Business. The finalists showed exemplary levels of business leadership, ambition, and passion. To learn more about our finalists, check out their profiles below.



Women in the Labor Market and MSMEs Day

In 2023, the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) declared a potent theme for Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day: “Galvanizing MSMEs Worldwide by Supporting Women and Youth Entrepreneurship and Resilient Supply Chains.” The emphasis was significantly placed on women, not merely as a subtheme but as a predominant discourse, unearthing their pivotal role in the global entrepreneurial landscape.

Some met this theme with resistance, questioning the spotlight on women as a significant focal point for MSMEs Day. However, with the recent commendation of Claudia Goldin, a Harvard University professor awarded the Nobel Prize in economics for her ground-breaking research into women’s income and employment, the discourse seems timely and pertinent. Goldin’s research, which analyzed over 200 years of US data, revealed that the gender pay gap could historically be attributed to differences in education and occupation. Yet, notably, the majority of current earnings disparities arise between men and women in identical works, amplifying post-childbirth.

Addressing the Challenges Faced by MSMEs Globally

The global working environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs has been staggered by multiple simultaneous shocks and crises, including conflicts, commodity dependence, geopolitical tensions, and pandemics, inducing social and economic instability. This instability renders MSMEs, particularly those owned by women and youth, extremely vulnerable to escalating inflation and supply chain disruptions.

Despite the burgeoning percentage and overall number of business formations by women and youth worldwide, these enterprises often face limited access to affordable finance, capacity-building support, partnership networks, and global markets. These challenges often hinder their business growth, trapping many within informality or necessity entrepreneurship.

Policies and Support for MSMEs: A Step Towards Inclusive Development

Policies that bolster capacities and support the development of MSMEs and entrepreneurship for women and youth must be prioritized. By addressing challenges, lowering and removing barriers, and providing an environment conducive to the growth of women- and youth-owned businesses, we pave the way towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10. Additionally, it honors the “leave no one behind” pledge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs.

ICSB’s Vision Materializing: More Focus on Women Entrepreneurs

ICSB takes immense pride in witnessing the materialization of its 2023 efforts, as more focus is now being accorded to women entrepreneurs. Our initiative to highlight the importance of women in entrepreneurship was not merely to spark a conversation but to ignite a transformative change in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The recognition of Claudia Goldin’s work by the Nobel Prize serves as a testament to the urgent need to address, discuss, and find solutions to the gender disparities in the labor market. It aligns seamlessly with our mission and further validates our thematic choice for MSMEs Day in 2023.

The journey towards empowering women and youth in entrepreneurship, especially within the MSMEs sector, is pivotal for economic growth, societal advancement, and a better future. It is the collective responsibility of global organizations, policymakers, and individuals to continue this momentum, ensuring that the endeavors of entities like ICSB and individuals like Claudia Goldin pave the way for sustainable, inclusive progress worldwide.

by: Dr. Ayman ELTarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Dpt. of Mgt, W School of Business

SMEs and Climate Change

SMEs and Climate Change

SMEs and Climate: The Unsung Heroes in the Battle for a Greener Tomorrow

The climate crisis is undeniably one of the most pressing challenges of our time. While much attention is given to the roles of governments and large corporations in addressing this issue, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are emerging as pivotal players in the fight against global warming. Representing over 90% of businesses worldwide, SMEs are uniquely positioned to make a significant impact. Here’s how:

Historical Context:

Three decades ago, Bill McKibben, author of “The End of Nature,” was among the first to sound the alarm on artificial climate change. His writings in the New Yorker and his groundbreaking book laid the foundation for the global conversation on this pressing issue. Fast forward to the present, and the momentum continues with individuals like Kyle Pope, editor and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, and Mark Hertsgaard. They spearheaded “Covering Climate Now,” a global initiative encouraging news organizations to address climate change consistently. With the commitment of over 250 news outlets worldwide, this project underscores the urgency of sustained and impactful climate coverage.

The SME Challenge:

While SMEs have the potential to be significant players in the fight against climate change, several barriers often hold them back:

Time Constraints: SMEs, often running lean operations, might be unable to figure out sustainable practices’ complexities.

Lack of Knowledge: Many SMEs are unfamiliar with or uninterested in buying carbon credits, seeing it as an abstract concept rather than a tangible solution.

Regulation vs. Solution: SMEs typically prefer straightforward solutions over additional restrictions. They seek effective, easy-to-implement strategies rather than more bureaucratic hurdles.

Profitability: For many SMEs, sustainability needs to make business sense. They’re looking for profitable eco-friendly initiatives, not just another expense.

Operational Integration: SMEs often grapple with seamlessly integrating sustainable practices into their operations without disrupting their business model.

An Example: The Ripple Effect of Early Education on Sustainability:

One of the most profound examples of grassroots change in sustainability can be traced back to kindergarten and middle school programs. Early education initiatives that introduced recycling taught children the mechanics of sorting waste and instilled in them the values of environmental responsibility. Armed with newfound knowledge and a sense of purpose, these young students became ambassadors of change in their homes, urging parents to adopt recycling habits. As families began to embrace these practices, the ripple effect continued, influencing broader community behaviors and eventually reaching local businesses. It was, in essence, the younger generation that catalyzed this transformative shift. This phenomenon serves as a powerful testament to the influence of early education on societal habits and offers a promising blueprint for introducing climate change products and services. By targeting educational initiatives at a young age, we can hope to foster a generation that understands the importance of sustainable practices and actively champions them in every sphere of their lives.

The Potential of SMEs:

Flexibility and Innovation: SMEs possess an inherent agility that many more giant corporations lack. This allows them to swiftly adapt to new technologies and market demands, pioneering innovative green solutions.

Localized Impact: By adopting sustainable practices, SMEs can inspire change in their communities, influencing suppliers, competitors, customers, and beyond.

Green Products and Services: With the rising demand for sustainable products, SMEs have the opportunity to tap into this burgeoning market.

Energy Efficiency: Simple measures can significantly reduce an SME’s carbon footprint.

Sustainable Supply Chains: SMEs can amplify their positive environmental impact by making eco-conscious choices in their supply chains.

Employee Engagement: SMEs can foster a company culture that champions sustainability.

Advocacy and Awareness: SMEs can leverage their platforms to champion climate-friendly policies and raise environmental awareness.

Aligning with Global Goals:

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a blueprint for global sustainability, and SMEs play a crucial role in realizing these objectives.

ICSB’s Emphasis on Climate:

The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) has long advocated for sustainable business practices, especially in the context of climate change. Recognizing the pivotal role that small businesses play in the global economy, ICSB has consistently emphasized the importance of climate action, not just as an environmental necessity but also as a business imperative.

One of the most notable ways ICSB has brought attention to this issue is through its “Top Ten Trends” publication. Year after year, climate change has featured prominently on this list, highlighting its significance and urging businesses, especially Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), to take proactive measures. This consistent emphasis serves as a clarion call for SMEs to recognize the imminent threats posed by climate change and to adapt their business models and practices accordingly.

Furthermore, the annual MSMEs Day, championed by ICSB, presents a golden opportunity to further the climate agenda. Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit and a platform to discuss and promote sustainable business practices. By integrating climate-focused workshops, panels, and discussions into the MSMEs Day agenda, ICSB can further its mission of equipping businesses with the tools and knowledge they need to combat climate change.

ICSB’s collaboration with the STGC (Sustainable Tourism Global Center) initiative has also been instrumental in promoting sustainable business practices. The STGC initiative, in partnership with ICSB, works towards creating a more transparent and accountable global commerce ecosystem. By emphasizing the importance of sustainability, transparency, and ethical business practices, the STGC initiative, backed by ICSB, is paving the way for a greener and more responsible global business landscape.

In conclusion, ICSB’s unwavering commitment to climate action, its influential platforms like the “Top Ten Trends” and MSMEs Day, and collaborations like the STGC initiative position it as a leading force in the global movement towards a sustainable future.

In Conclusion:

While they may not have the vast resources of multinational corporations, SMEs have the agility, community influence, and innovative spirit to make substantial strides in addressing climate change. Their extensive and small actions contribute to a collective effort pushing us towards a more sustainable future.

In the climate narrative, SMEs are not just supporting characters but leading protagonists.

AI Punctuated Revolution

AI Punctuated Revolution

AI and the Punctuated Revolution: How Technology is Transforming Our World 

Flashback to the 1950s: Elvis Presley had everyone “All Shook Up” with hits like “Heartbreak Hotel,” and Dean Martin serenaded many with “Memories Are Made of This.” It was a time of jukeboxes, rebellious teens, and…dinosaurs? Well, not literally, but let’s come back to that. 

Between the hip-swinging and chart-topping, the decade saw unprecedented leaps in medicine with the first organ transplant and the polio vaccine’s debut. In the same breath (and perhaps with the same visionary spirit that the King of Rock’ n’ Roll brought to music), John McCarthy introduced us to the term “artificial intelligence” at the Dartmouth Conference (read more.)

Now, picture McCarthy, Marvin Minsky, Nathaniel Rochester, and Claude Shannon at Dartmouth in a brainstorming session that might’ve rivaled the brainstorm that led T-Rex to evolve those tiny arms. Yep, you heard it right. Dinosaurs. They’ve got a part to play in this tale.

See, there’s this notion called “Punctuated Equilibrium” in biology. Stephen Jay Gould and Niles Eldredge introduced us to this captivating concept. This theory posits that life typically hums along in a stable rhythm, but now and then, in a twist reminiscent of a surprise guitar solo, it experiences dramatic shifts. Imagine the Earth spinning an unpredictable tune, leading to extinction events like the dinosaurs. This abrupt interlude made way for the rise of small mammals, which, in a crescendo of evolution, eventually set the stage for… well, us.

Techie Time Warp

Parallel to the rock ‘n’ roll revolution, technologies like neural networks quietly evolved, anticipating their breakout moment.

AI: The New Rock Star on the Block

The ’50s weren’t all greasers and milkshakes—it was the beginning of the AI revolution. With this tech trio—algorithms, data, and computing—it was as if the tech world found its rock star, fundamentally transforming industries, including healthcare. Early disease detection via AI? That’s your headlining act!

SMEs: The Breakout Bands

In the great concert of innovation, SMEs are your indie bands. They might not always make the headlines, but they have potential. By jamming with AI, they’re setting new trends, creating unique experiences, and aligning with the beats of the UN SDGs.

Dino-sized example? AI guiding SMEs to cut waste and elevate agricultural yields. It’s not quite a meteoric impact, but it’s shaping ecosystems, just like the aftereffects of our prehistoric friends’ departure.

The Encore: The Future of AI

Being a hit in the AI charts is like trying to maintain a classic song’s popularity—it takes constant reinvention. By syncing with global aims like the UN SDGs, SMEs ensure they’re not one-hit wonders but legends in the making.

Yet, the music world, like AI, demands responsibility. We have to ensure our innovations strike the right chord ethically.

As we navigate the confluence of biology, history, and technology, we’re presented with an unparalleled opportunity and a profound responsibility. The harmonious notes of “We Are the World,” a masterpiece crafted by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, remind us of the essence of unity and progress. With the swift rise of AI, we’re adding a fresh verse to our collective anthem of existence. This isn’t merely about ushering in a new era of innovation; it’s an earnest call for mindful stewardship. History’s dramatic shifts, like the abrupt finale of the dinosaurs, offer a poignant lesson: permanence is a myth. As we revel in the brilliance of technology, it’s crucial to strike a harmonious balance, ensuring our advancements don’t overshadow our essence. Let’s not mirror the dinosaurs or their ill-fated destiny; we’ve been blessed with foresight.

So, as we groove into the future, let’s remember the lessons from Elvis, the King, the unsung indie bands, and, yes, even the mighty dinosaurs. Combining rhythm, vision, and adaptability can create a harmonious, world-changing symphony. With the right tools and a chorus of global unity, we must ensure our legacy of sustainability, inclusivity, and vision echoes harmoniously for future generations.



SME World Forum Focuses on Azerbaijan, 

November 13-16, 2023.

The 2023 SME World Forum will bring together some of the business world’s most inventive and passionate leaders from academia, policy, and the youth sector. The Republic of Azerbaijan’s Small and Medium Business Development Agency will spearhead the event as the principal host. This World Forum is scheduled from November 13 to November 16, 2023, in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The 2023 SME World Forum will bring together some of the business world’s most inventive and passionate leaders from academia, policy, and the youth sector. The Republic of Azerbaijan’s Small and Medium Business Development Agency will spearhead the event as the principal host. This World Forum is scheduled from November 13 to November 16, 2023, in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Submit Your Best Practice: 

SME World Forum: Baku 2023 — Best Practices Exchange

Forum Theme and Objectives:

The SME World Forum’s inaugural will reunite some of the most creative and emphatic world leaders of the business world, policy, academics,s and youth. The Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the main lead. It will be the primary host, and this World Forum will occur from November 13 to November 16, 2023, in Baku, Azerbaijan.


Host and Venue:

The Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan is honored to host this prestigious event. The World Forum will be held from November 13 to November 16, 2023. ICSB is partnering with the Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The SME World Forum will target five key segments: Private Sector Companies, Startups, Policy Sector, Academic Sector, Education Sector, and Tourism & Hospitality. With special dedicated sessions on youth and women entrepreneurship:

Why Attend from the Private Sector?

Networking Opportunities: Connect with industry leaders, policymakers, and researchers.
Cutting-edge Insights: Access the latest trends, strategies, and opportunities shaping the SME landscape.
Influence and Collaboration: Play an active role in shaping policies and best practices that impact the SME ecosystem globally.


Why Attend from Policy Sector?

Influence Policy Direction: Engage in critical dialogues with SME leaders, industry experts, and academics, contributing to formulating policies that foster small and medium enterprise growth, innovation, and sustainability.
Collaborate Across Sectors: Build partnerships with the private sector, educators, and legislators, promoting integrated approaches that align public policy with industry needs and societal goals, enhancing the effectiveness of regulations and interventions.
Access Global Perspectives: Gain insights from international thought leaders and policymakers, allowing for a comprehensive understanding of global trends and challenges. This knowledge will inform more effective local and national policy decisions that can drive positive change in the SME landscape.


Why Attend from the Academic Sector?

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Engage with professionals across various fields, including business, policy, and technology, fostering a rich environment for innovative research and interdisciplinary collaboration that can lead to new academic insights and breakthroughs.

Real-World Impact: Connect with practitioners in the SME sector to understand real-world challenges and opportunities, guiding research focus toward practical applications that can have tangible impacts on small and medium-sized enterprises.

Global Perspectives on SMEs: Participate in discussions and workshops led by international experts to gain a comprehensive understanding of global trends, regional variations, and cultural influences on SMEs, enriching your research and teaching methods with diverse and inclusive perspectives


Why Attend as Tourism & Hospitality Expert:

Industry Insights and Trends: Discover the latest trends, technologies, and innovative practices shaping the tourism and hospitality industry. Gain insights into consumer behavior and preferences, sustainability initiatives, and the role of SMEs in driving economic recovery and growth.
Networking Opportunities: Connect with industry leaders, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and academics specializing in tourism and hospitality. Engaging in meaningful conversations can lead to partnerships, collaborations, and new business opportunities.

Skill Development and Knowledge Sharing: Attend workshops, seminars, and panel discussions led by experts in the field. Enhance your professional skills, learn about best practices, and contribute your experiences and insights to shape the future of tourism and hospitality in a world increasingly influenced by SMEs.

Why Attend as Women & Youth:

Empowerment and Inclusion: Explore initiatives and strategies to empower women and youth in business. Understand how SMEs are providing platforms for gender equality and youth involvement, and learn how you can contribute to these efforts.

Entrepreneurial Development: Gain insights into entrepreneurial opportunities tailored to women and young entrepreneurs. Learn from successful women and youth-led SMEs, and get inspired to launch or grow your venture.

Networking with Like-minded Individuals: Connect with women and youth leading the way in various industries. Build a network that can offer support, mentorship, and collaboration, all vital for personal and professional growth.

Education and Skill Enhancement: Participate in workshops and training sessions designed to enhance skills and knowledge relevant to women and youth in business. Benefit from personalized learning paths that align with your career goals.

Voice and Impact: Have your voice heard on issues directly impacting women and youth in the business environment. Engage with policy-makers, industry leaders, and academics to contribute your perspective and potentially influence the policies and practices that shape the future for women and youth in SMEs.



Addressing the “Perfect Storm”: A Human-Centered Approach to Academic Integrity and Transparency

Recent continued events have shaken the academic community’s foundations, leading us to a decisive crossroads. The reported severe charges of data falsification leveled against Professor Gino from Harvard University and the resignation of Dr. Tessier-Lavigne as President of Stanford University due to reported flaws in his research highlight the imperative for rigorous ethical guidelines and exhaustive examination procedures in the research community.


We are facing a scenario characterized by Herman Aguinis as an “irresponsible research perfect storm.”  Invoking an analogy with the film ‘The Perfect Storm,’ Dr. Agunis predicted and sounded an alarm concerning imminent threats that could devastate the management field. His open-source paper stated this.

So, what do we do?

Our Response as Journal Leaders

As Editors in Chief of JSBM and JICSB and integral members of the leadership teams of Jeffrey Alves (Editor of JICSB), Katia Passerini (Interim President of Seton Hall), Eric Liguori, Head of the School of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Rowan University, we are monitoring these developments. Actively engaging with the academic community and liaising with our publisher, Taylor & Francis Group, we acknowledge the necessity to confront these issues and preserve the integrity of scholarly work.

I recommended that our team devise plans that focus on the following:

#1: Enhancing Transparency: By encouraging more open data reporting, we aim to make study findings universally accessible, thus reinstating confidence in academic research.

#2: Leveraging Technology: We intend to harness technology to simplify research data access, narrowing the divide between researchers and the broader readership.

#3: Celebrating Trial and Error: In acknowledging that research is a process of discovery and growth, we honor both success and failure, promoting a balanced perspective that values innovative findings and insightful questions leading to unexpected outcomes.


As distinguished scholars gather at esteemed venues such as AOM in Boston and ICSB this week, our cooperative, human-centered approach lays the foundation for a transformative era in academic research.

As my esteemed colleague, Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Immediate Past Chair of ICSB, succinctly articulated, ‘ We need a paradigm shift in how research is done and classified.’ This profound insight captures the essence of our mission and emphasizes the critical necessity for a transformative approach.’

I end it with a quote from Albert Einstein “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its reason for existence.”

May our academic community persist in its quest for knowledge, exploration, and the pursuit of truth and excellence.

by: Ayman ElTarabishy
Editor-in-Chief of JSBM
President & CEO, ICSB