One-Year Remembrance

One-Year Remembrance

One-Year Remembrance

Saturday March 13, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

Dear ICSB Family, 

Anniversaries are a moment for self-reflection, for remembrance, and occasionally, a moment for change. Today as we pass the one-year mark of COVID-19 lockdown in the United States and the corresponding global fallout, we believe that this specific moment creates space for us to reflect, to remember, and to change. 

At ICSB, we believe strongly in creating a more humane and sustainable world. This past year has shown just how enormous and difficult this task can be. But at the same time, the overwhelming resilience, strength, and love that people have shown as they navigate this enormously traumatic year, has been wondrous and humbling to experience. The spirit of the people is clearly and demonstrably behind these core concepts of human-ness and sustainability, and there seems to be change in the air. So, where do we go from here?

One year ago, the rapidly changing world forced us to reflect on what we believe in and what services and opportunities we offer. Pre-COVID, ICSB worked with more traditional forms of communication, emphasizing in-person conferences. We quickly realized flexibility and adaptability were the two main paths forwards, after we ensured the well-being of our employees and community. Over the past year, we’ve completely re-worked our operations by building out journals and other academic resources, and by prioritizing new digital infrastructure, including social media and a re-designed website. We transitioned away from focusing mainly on in-person collaborative conferences to a more decentralized and accessible approach, which created new and unique opportunities for traditionally marginalized actors to participate and grow within spaces that have traditionally been closed off to them. We look forward to continuing to grow and innovate as we meet and adapt to the challenges ahead.

There would be no opportunity for growth or innovation without you, our family, engaging with and challenging the material and resources we provide. This entire process is a collaborative effort, and we sincerely appreciate the support you have shown us as we iron the details out and begin to solidify a long-term approach towards business education and collaboration. In that spirit, this summer will mark the 2021 ICSB World Congress, where we will focus on and emphasize Humane Entrepreneurship as a foundational part of our future in the business ecosystem. This will mark the first major conference since the beginning of the pandemic and we look forward to incorporating the lessons we have learned throughout this past year, as we begin a new chapter in the fight for a more humane and sustainable world. We look forward to collaborating with you, both this summer and beyond. 

In solidarity, 
Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
ICSB President & CEO

Author

Ayman El Tarabishy

Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Humane Gone Mainstream: The ESG Generation Arrives

Humane Gone Mainstream: The ESG Generation Arrives

Humane Gone Mainstream: The ESG Generation Arrives

Saturday February 27, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

As we think about the coming months and the start of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are important lessons to consider regarding the global economy’s revitalization. This specific period of volatility will subside, but it will be replaced by a permanently shifting economic landscape in the face of climate change. Investors, specifically micro-small and medium-sized enterprises, have weathered the most challenging moments of the past year, but there is minimal safety net left. There will be an ever-increasing need to invest strategically and frugally, with magnified consequences for those who fail to adapt to emerging market trends. Therefore, the most important factors to consider are and will continue to be sustainability and frugal innovation.

How do we incorporate these ideals into the increasingly volatile business ecosystem? Morgan Stanley Investment team addresses this in a recent investment report,

“A holistic approach to sustainability—concerning disruptive change, financial strength, environmental and social externalities, and governance (also referred to as ESG)—helps us identify investment opportunities. The Global Opportunity Team has been investing since 2006 with continual evolution and innovation.”

This focus on ESG shows a significant shift underway that emphasizes human-centered (humane) investment and begins to change the emphasis on business development from quantity to quality. Finding ways to standardize these practices and create opportunities to expand at scale will be crucial in capitalizing on this emerging market.

However, the ongoing change within the business world cannot be confined to strictly environmental factors. We are on the cusp of an era that is pressured by younger generations with radically different ideas about the future than the people who have come before. The emergence of social media and the creation of “going viral” has permanently altered the business world’s fundamentals and how we relate to one another.

The increasingly prominent role that business schools play in university settings reinforces the coming generational shift and thought revolution. The rise of a new age of business ideas and the development of humane and sustainable investment strategies are inextricably bound to the explosion of business schools across the country, and the increasing role business and finance have in popular culture. Business found a way to go mainstream, and we’ve seen the consequences of this unfold, most recently with the Wall Street Bets and the un-traditional exploitation of the stock market by a group of individuals on the internet. The next step is finding ways to use the incredible grassroots energy and exposure to push humane, sustainable business and investment strategies instead of risky short-term stock blitzes. The education sector will have a pivotal role to play in discovering and standardizing methods like ESG.

These factors show that there is a desperate need for a new and innovative way of approaching investments. The individuals and businesses that can take advantage of these innovations will be positioned to succeed despite uncertain times ahead. Growing evidence suggests that ESG factors, when integrated into investment analysis and portfolio construction, offer investors long-term performance advantages. But people must be put in a position to succeed. I believe in creating space for like-minded individuals and businesses to collaborate on mutually beneficial ways of re-creating the business ecosystem in a more just and humane image.

Let us welcome the ESG Generation powered by Humane Entrepreneurship.

I have been anxiously waiting for you.

Quote from: https://www.morganstanley.com/im/publication/insights/investment-insights/ii_esgandthesustainabilityofcompetitiveadvantage_en.pdf

Author

Ayman El Tarabishy

Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Digital Distinction with Hybrid

Digital Distinction with Hybrid

Digital Distinction with Hybrid

Saturday February 20, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

If you ask the average entrepreneur what lessons or skills they have learned and developed over the past year, there is one answer that comes up again and again—ZOOM (a.k.a. flexibility.) There is no flexibility in the modern business world without a digital presence. The tools exist for small businesses to create an online, global platform that can work towards various societal needs with very few input resources. The future of education is digital and tying your business’s investment in digital presence to skills training or other educational opportunities is a smart, cost-effective way of growing your footprint.

COVID-19 and the resulting changes to the day-to-day operations of millions of people worldwide have accelerated this shift towards digital infrastructure and technological competency.  At ICSB, we believe that this transition to a more global and digitally connected environment provides opportunities for all small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and sustainable entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge and to network through a collection of digital conferences.

We want to emphasize that while the potential value of digital conferences and the broader expansion of technological advancement, we believe that in-person conferences and opportunities to meet and socialize remain the most ideal for a robust exchange of information and perspectives. However, in a world that continually asks us to adapt, we must continue to be ready to do so.

One of the main attractions for a digital conference is location neutrality. Conferences can be hosted from wherever, and it becomes exponentially easier for distant parties to attend events that would ordinarily have been very difficult in regular times. This approach also centers on disabled actors and other parties that require a different set of accommodations. When we say we want to build a more equitable and just world, these are some of the smaller, more complicated things we have to pay attention to.

Additionally, a digital conference’s environmental impact is a fraction of the average ecological costs that come with long-distance travel and other amenities of an in-person function. We must emphasize sustainability and consider expenses that we have historically ignored.

While this age of digital conferences and events is relatively new, there are ways to maximize your event’s effectiveness. As Lawton (2020) writes, some of the key considerations include:

  1. Timetabling of speakers should be optimized to account for the different time-zones in which speakers and participants are located.
  2. Presenters should be taught how to use the software before the conference, including optimizing their environment, lighting, positioning, and digital broadcast clothing.
  3. Audience participation via asking questions and voting in polls is essential to keep the audience engaged and scrutinize presented material.
  4. Technological failures are distracting and time-consuming. There should be a dedicated team assigned to troubleshooting and contingency plans when the issue cannot be resolved.
  5. Decide how recorded content will be made available and whether this will be restricted to registered participants or open to a broader audience.

The details will change according to the specifics of certain events. Still, we believe a foundation that emphasizes preparedness, audience engagement, and technological competency is a definite beginning as we continue to evolve our practices to meet the times’ challenges. Additionally, we believe incorporating these strategies will create a special and unique experience that does not merely look to replicate the features of a traditional, in-person event. Digital conferences and circumstances are individual and offer their own set of pros and cons. We believe we must lean into these challenges if we want to continue to succeed.

Welcome to the ICSB Hybrid World Congress in Paris, July 12-17.

Sources

Lawton, A., Harman, K., & Gupta, A. (2020, July 19). Lessons learnt transitioning to a Digital conference during the COVID-19 pandemic. Retrieved February 14, 2021, from https://adc.bmj.com/content/early/2020/07/19/archdischild-2020-319560

https://icsb.org/toptrends2021/

Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Equity beyond just a conversation

Equity beyond just a conversation

Equity beyond just a conversation.

Saturday February 6, 2021, by Ayman El Tarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

Equity beyond just a conversation.

“Equity” is something we talk about in the business and entrepreneurship worlds. Despite this focus, discussions around equity have primarily remained just that — discussions. We have failed to prioritize the action that makes too long equity possible. With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the business ecosystem’s foundations have been disrupted. We have a unique opportunity to remake the entrepreneur’s world in a more just and equitable way. We sit in a memorable historical moment, where there is an unprecedented desire for fundamental, wide-reaching change. Here at ICSB, one of the priorities we have set for the coming year is a renewed focus on equitable embodiment.

One of the core concepts in our understanding of equitable embodiment is empathy. Empathy is often thought of as the “starting point of design thinking,” and it seems perfectly reasonable that this would be a guiding principle in reimagining and reshaping our new world. We must then consider the past mistakes within this restart and rectify them. It is imperative to understand the characteristics of humanistic management, with empathy acting as an essential “driving factor for employee engagement and communicative business culture, leading to a better understanding between organizational members and stakeholders.” Empathy has been overlooked as a potential solution to fundamental issues we face, and we are committed to an empathy-centered approach here at ICSB.

As we consider ways to implement a more empathetic approach, special attention must be placed on the failures that have led us to this moment. Too often, people in charge want to talk about change without disrupting any of their current operations. This leads to an environment where the same people who have refused to create an equitable environment are responsible for implementing change with very little oversight. Going forwards, there must be increased transparency, real checks on power, and methods of accountability for those who fail to live up to the new standard.

The easiest and most efficient way to start this process is to place historically marginalized actors into actual power and institutional influence positions. At ICSB, we have seen the success that businesses and entrepreneurs have when they rely on the experiences of those who have been traditionally overlooked. These groups bring fresh perspectives on issues and the appropriate responses to them. They are often more innovative and frugal because of the restraints that have historically been placed on them. As we navigate a new and emerging world, there is much we can learn from these groups that have too often been ignored.

We understand that the process towards equity in the business and entrepreneurship ecosystems is uneven, and there is no one solution to the issues we face. But we firmly believe that empowering individuals and groups within our network is a simple, righteous step that will have enormous benefits down the road. If done correctly, these bold and straightforward ideas will create a self-sustaining, positive cycle that will continuously reproduce innovative and equitable solutions to past issues, as well as new and emerging ones we have yet to face. With unique perspectives and ideas, putting actual people into positions of power and influence will accelerate progress and show people a real change.

That is why today, I am proud to announce a new and exciting opportunity for those who want to make an actionable impact in these atypical actors’ lives. Today, we are opening up sponsorship opportunities for the ICSB WE program. WE Sponsorship will allow us to bring the education, space, and visibility to women entrepreneurs that they deserve. I invite you all to look at the many sponsorship options available so that you can actively show your contribution to womenpreneurs worldwide.

Join us.

Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Real Essence of Sustainable Growth

Real Essence of Sustainable Growth

Real Essence of Sustainable Growth

Saturday, October 17, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy

Empathy and connection are the foundations of our human experience as they are and will continue to be even more so as the foundations of our entrepreneurial experiences.

About a week ago, members from the ICSB family joined together to create a pre-conference workshop for the upcoming AIM Digital conference. Winslow Sargeant, Vicki Stylianou, Ahmed Osman from the ICSB Board of Directors, and Andrew McDonald from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and myself entered into a discussion about the small business reality in the world today. Centering our discussion on the AIM Digital event, “Reimagining Economies: the Move Towards a Digital, Sustainable, and Resilient Future,” the conversation covered an array of topics. Today, however, in reflecting this Saturday, I would like to explore further the more significant notion of connection regarding the end of the status quo and the present and future of Humane Entrepreneurship.

The concept of empathy is bedrock and determinant of one’s ability to enact a culture of Humane Entrepreneurship. Empathy is, as noted in Kim et al. (2018), “the extent to which a company shares emotions and information with its employees.” We can extrapolate this idea from company to city, region, country, and the international community. We can imagine how organizations and individuals who value empathy might share and exchange with their colleagues in thinking about this definition. They might also practice transparency, care, and understanding for their customers and the communities in which they work and inhabit. To practice and work in an empathetic manner is to connect with those around us actively.

A significant purpose of empathy, as well, is that it is not the usage or implementation of empathy as a means of an end to greater wealth. Instead, it is the practice of being human, which includes being empathetic, which works virtuously with other humans to create something deemed as valuable for the world. That which is considered valuable then becomes something profitable so that it becomes something that works sustainably, cyclically, or continuously. When we can recognize the expansiveness of wealth, we will finally understand sustainability on a deeper level.

Sustainability is undoubtedly about generating money so that not firms can function entrepreneurially. They can ensure that their employees find themselves in quality and well-paying positions that care for them and their families. More broadly, however, sustainability is about creating sustainable patterns of interest and investment. We might ask the questions: “Are employees working in conditions that allow their creative and innovative humanity to shine?” or “Is this company able to adapt to change in a way that allows the company, their employees, the community (often including the employee’s families) to be sustainable?” Sustainability is genuinely a more significant connection of firms to their employees and communities and employees to their jobs, their families, their communities, and a greater consciousness that recognizes the humaneness in all people.

ICSB strives for this reality. Do we miss the mark sometimes? Of course. We are human, and failure is a natural part of the human experience. It is, however, our ability to adapt and evolve continuously that ensures our survival in recognizing what we value, our community of members, and ensuring their wellbeing and prosper, that we can overcome the failings of our missteps to continuously center the connection of this small business and entrepreneurship community.

At the end of our pre-conference workshop, I asked Vicki, Winslow, Ahmed, and Andrew for their rapid reaction to specific terms, one being Humane Entrepreneurship. Their reactions included the following: “social infrastructure,” “the new way of the economy,” “sustainable growth,” and “getting it done on an equal basis.” I believe that we can truly build a beautiful world when we allow the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship to guide our actions in our communities, nations, and world. Empathy and connection are the foundations of our human experience as they are and will continue to be even more so as the foundations of our entrepreneurial experiences.

It is here we will advance. It is here where entrepreneurship lies.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy,

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

Evoking Ecosystems: As Nature Intended

Evoking Ecosystems: As Nature Intended

Evoking Ecosystems: As Nature Intended

Saturday, October 3, 2020, by Ayman El Tarabishy

There is essentially no framework, which we can construct, that can truly describe a “framework” for ecosystems because an ecosystem’s success is typically based on its ability to capture the least common denominators of a community, or the groups typically left out of the discussion.

In the process of becoming in this new status quo, we hear a lot of reference to creating, (re)building, and maintaining entrepreneurial ecosystems. Session two of the New Professor program elicited a need to further our discussion of not only what an ecosystem is and what it necessitates, but additionally, the parts of entrepreneurship that affect (or determine) success or lack thereof within these ecosystems.

Ecosystem, originally a biological term, describes a community or environment in which organisms (or entities) interact with each other and their physical environment, or the structure that creates the confounds and limits on that particular system. We can find ecosystems practically everywhere; nature is and consists of many ecosystems, there are ecosystems within our institutions, and we can even find ecosystems within and throughout the inner workings of the human body. There seems to be, however, one specific commonality that holds for all of these ecosystems, and that is that they do, operate, and functions better, more efficiently, and more progress when they are left alone.

As the entrepreneurial community seeks to find a way to curate these ecosystems artificially, I must question why a need is there and from where it originates. There seems to be much energy being allotted to the research and construction of a “framework,” or collection of similarities with which we can manipulate and build ecosystems worldwide. Yet, I must bring light to this particular confusion.

We are spending time and money looking to create something artificially that can occur naturally in our societies.

Is the problem truly that we do not have enough or enough well-built ecosystems, or is it instead of that our institutions and we are not ready to recognize their problematic nature? Throughout the discussion on ecosystems, Humane Entrepreneurship, and more, we hear time and time again, the need to center the entrepreneur, or “place the entrepreneur in the driver seat.” We want to intensely and deeply return the natural balance to our communities, so we speak of focusing on the human as if it is a hard thing to do. Humans focus on humans. Seemingly a simple equation, but for some reason, a much more complex formulation.

As we take so much effort to center the entrepreneur and their needs in this artificial system we have made, we must question, What is an entrepreneurial ecosystem more than the act of removing our institutions and organizations to get them out of the way of the entrepreneurs?”

I want to note that, of course, we have spent centuries building the society in which we now inhabit. However, I would like to postulate that the need for entrepreneurial ecosystems has advanced as a need to “return to our roots” and find a more natural and organic balance within the ecosystem. Similar to the havoc being placed on the Amazon by humans, the ecosystem will survive when we stop pretending that there is anything that we can do to enable entrepreneurship and empower entrepreneurs, other than give them the space to do just that.

I want to stop for a moment to remind everyone that these pieces are specifically written to make us pause. These ICSB Reflections are released for the challenge and encouragement of “questioning the system.” Let us not fall claim to an idea just because it receives much attraction; let us, instead, better understand a concept and see it as a possible solution to aid us in advancing society.

Therefore, it is here that we will “refocus” on Humane Entrepreneurship. Dr. Norris Krueger and his ecosystem gurus are urging us to do so. As these experts release their reviews on thriving and failing ecosystems and the phenomena of ecosystems at large, I cannot help but notice the “humane” in all of it. They provide a solution to help institutions, regions, and governments better understand how the human must sit first and at the forefront of all our decisions around entrepreneurship.

The New Professor’s second class ended with a view of the group’s takeaways. They were all (unsurprisingly) focused on the human. Simultaneously, person after person reiterated ways in which these organizations and institutions that need to get out of the course are made up of individuals. If we change our thinking — from the entity in which the people exist within to the people themselves, then we will be simultaneously creating solutions in two frameworks of understanding: HumEnt and that of entrepreneurial ecosystems.

In both theories and practices, two essential concepts can hold true in both our natural and artificial systems, being bottom-up and intangible. In nature, ecosystems are created by the symbiosis of microscopic living organisms working synergistically together. The masses (bottom-up) are responsible for creating and maintaining the system, while it is inexplicable energy (the intangible) that provides the conduction of an ecosystem’s seamless flow.

We can think of the intangible in an entrepreneurial ecosystem, or frankly any human ecosystem, as the culture. Culture works as a significant driving force that, although very difficult to describe, guides an ecosystem. Culture — created, accepted, and perpetuated by the people — decides the parameters of success, failure, and an ecosystem’s ability to flow seamlessly. I want to pose that this might be a missing piece in the discussion of ecosystem building. There is essentially no framework, which we can construct, that can truly describe a “framework” for ecosystems because an ecosystem’s success is typically based on its ability to capture the least common denominators of a community, or the groups typically left out of the discussion. The ability of an ecosystem to adequately engage with the women, children, and disenfranchised will change depending on each culture. Yet, it is a guiding and determining factor for the prosperity in every entrepreneurial ecosystem.

As always, I hope that this reflection will illicit much thought and discussion going forward. This is not a comprehensive review but rather a call to the greater narrative we are all taking part in. We can easily find contradictions in all theories and most practices, and therefore, it is our responsibility to find our seat in the uncertainty of the gray area.

It is here we will advance. It is here where entrepreneurship lies.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy,

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