Rebuilding the sense of community

Rebuilding the sense of community

Rebuilding the Sense of Community

Tuesday, September 20, 2022, by Matt Cavicchia and Vicki Stylianou

The Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) is one of the three professional accounting associations in Australia, with 75 percent of our members being either advisers to Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) or SMEs themselves. The IPA’s reason is to improve small business quality of life, supported by a vision for every small business to have one of our members by their side. 

Following a year memorable for isolation and social distancing, the IPA decided it was appropriate to rejuvenate and restore the sense of community within our membership base for 2021 and beyond. This was signified early in the year when it was decided to redefine one of our strategic themes to reflect this revised direction:  

Build a professional community for the SME and SMP sectors.

The IPA has always been committed to making the small business count. This strategic shift to focus on creating and maintaining a professional community reaffirms the magnitude of the IPA’s passion to enhance the longevity and well-being of MSMEs. In addition, in 2021, the IPA strengthened its strategic focus on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), selecting the following eight Goals as being the most relevant to our vision, strategy, and stakeholders:

  • SDG 3:   Good Health and Wellbeing
  • SDG 4:   Quality Education
  • SDG 8:   Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities (including a focus on SDG 5 – Gender Equality)
  • SDG 11: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 13: Climate Action
  • SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

This report will look closely at our chosen Goals, highlighting how the IPA has contributed to them in 2021 from the perspective of MSMEs and thereby reinforcing and rebuilding our sense of community.  

SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Before the pandemic, mental health was already recognized as a significant issue facing small business people, including professionals and many accountants. The IPA has an existing partnership with a clinical health provider to offer initial clinical support to members with mental health concerns. To do more and help more small business people, including the clients of members and members themselves, the IPA partnered with Deakin University (based in Melbourne, Australia) to research the role played by accountants and other professional advisers in improving the mental well-being of small business people. Preliminary research indicated that using a business professional helped to improve the mental well-being of small business owners and operators. It was decided that it was worthwhile to extend the research and develop a training program that could be scaled for use in other jurisdictions and across various economic sectors. 

The program known as Counting On U was born with a host of partners, including other professional associations, mental health groups, and highly regarded medical professionals from Deakin and other universities. It attracted the attention of the Australian Government, which provided grants of over AU$3 million. At this stage, Counting On U offers mental health training for accountants, financial planners, bookkeepers, and other business advisers, providing tools to identify signs and assist their SME clients with accessing professional support. It has also been designed to help the adviser themselves, as they are often vicariously impacted and can develop anxiety and other mental health concerns.   

While the Covid-19 response in Australia focused on protecting physical health and our hospital system, there is widespread acknowledgment of the challenges that ensued for mental health. This, in addition to the IPA’s existing awareness and promotion of mental health, led us to compile numerous additional resources and tools dedicated to mental health and resilience, including access to a range of Corporate Social Responsibility partners, free education and training, and materials from (amongst others) Australia’s RUOK, an organisation dedicated to asking the simple question – “are you okay?”.  

Mental health is not only a medical issue but also an economic one with broad implications for the whole economy. The IPA has been vocal on many fronts, including advocacy, where we have promoted recommendations to enhance the mental well-being of small business people. The effects of mental health can impact a person’s ability to participate and prosper in the community and workplace. For business owners and operators, it can affect their employees and the ongoing viability of their business (business failure/ exit also has a negative health impact). Reforms must extend across workplaces, education institutions, the judicial system, the health system, and the community.

SDG 4: Quality Education

The IPA is undergoing an ‘education transformation’ by designing future education aligned with a sustainable accounting and finance profession. The rate of change occurring within most sectors of the global economy is unprecedented, significantly outpacing the adaptability of units and courses offered by many higher and vocational education institutions. The outcome of the transformation will be a relevant approach to education that supports lifelong learning and focuses on competency. 

Identifying the role of short courses and micro-credentials in the future of education, the IPA released its first digital short course in 2021: Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Accountants. The course introduces the principles and ethical considerations underpinning AI and machine learning, focusing on the challenges and opportunities for small-to-medium practitioners and SMEs. 

The course is delivered online with live workshops, promoting engagement and a sense of community between peers and educators. This is one example of the IPA’s investment in new learning platforms and systems which promote sharing and questioning. This has been enabled by partnering with progressive and experienced educators and encouraging more involvement by members and other professionals in the learning experience.    

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

This Goal is directly linked to the IPA’s advocacy, policy, and research work, which is heavily centred on economic policy.  Underpinning this effort is the work of the IPA Deakin SME Research Centre, a joint venture between the IPA and Deakin University. The Centre produces a diverse range of research exploring issues that impact small businesses and SMEs. 

The recent and current work program covering impactful research and academic papers includes: 

  • Productivity: Small Business White Paper 3.0 focuses on innovation policy, including the most effective levers to boost Research & Development (R&D) (see below under SDG 11).
  • Sustainability: Looking at the SDGs with a focus on defining and measuring outputs and capturing intangibles; and how these apply to SMEs. 
  • Innovation: This project focuses on patents filed by SMEs and small businesses as a measure of innovation. The outcomes can be used in several ways to promote small business innovation, including matching the different players in the innovation/ patent ecosystem, such as patent attorneys, investors, government, and others.  
  • Exporting: The Research Centre has explored the linkages between innovation, exports, and productivity, including the role of intangible resources in SME export performance. The research report notes:

“Results suggest SME firms that innovate and have the required technical [or] managerial ability skills have a greater propensity to export. Indeed, technical skills are relatively more important for propensity to export than business skills. Furthermore, when SMEs are incentivized to innovate by using either government support or R&D collaboration, the propensity to export by SMEs increases significantly. Results also show that Australian small business exports and innovation are significantly reliant on five industry sectors. At the same time, SMEs with foreign ownership have a higher propensity to export compared to SMEs with no foreign ownership.”

These five industry sectors are:

  • Mining
  • Manufacturing 
  • Wholesale trade
  • Information media and telecommunications
  • Public administration and safety.

 

  • Funding: Research has been undertaken based on an international comparison of small business agencies, focusing on the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the United States. The objective is to identify and apply the most compelling features and elements worldwide to design an appropriate model for Australia. The centralised capital access assistance programs are of particular interest given the lack of this feature in the Australian landscape. This research has translated into policy recommendations that the office of the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) should evolve into a centralised small business hub comparable to the SBA.   

The ASBFEO is an independent government agency that advocates in the best interests of the small business community. However, limitations of the model have been identified by the Research Centre as follows: 

“Indeed, the Ombudsman is unable to “… duplicate the operations of other agencies … [, and] must transfer a request for assistance to another Commonwealth, State or Territory agency, if that agency could deal with the request” (ASBFEO Act 2015, Division 2, Sections 66-70).  These limitations mean that the Ombudsman’s office can only advocate for the small business sector. Still, it is unable to administer and thereby provide centralised and widespread support to the small business sector in Australia.”

  • Alternative funding: Other avenues for funding, both public and private are being examined, including their efficacy with small business performance. Developing a viable venture capital sector is a particular focus of the research.

SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

Various research and commentary over many years have focused on the systemic socio-economic challenges and institutional barriers which limit opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia to build sustainable businesses or to enter professions. Recognizing the problems that exist, the IPA began its ‘Reconciliation’ journey through the compilation of our first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). A RAP is a corporate document that marks a commitment to improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Within our sphere of influence as a professional accounting body, we have identified the following as the key objectives of our RAP:

  • Conduct cultural awareness training and other education to address unconscious biases within our organisation and membership. 
  • Increase awareness of the inequality faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and explore ways to create opportunities to increase equality. 
  • Review perspectives on Australia’s history, including the barriers that prevent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from establishing a sustainable business or pursuing a career in the professions. 

SDG 11: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

This Goal is linked to SDG 8, and the work and outputs which we have noted above are also relevant to the achievement of SDG 11. This is especially concerning industry and innovation, which are critical to achieving decent work and economic growth. 

The year 2021 marked the release of the IPA’s third Small Business White Paper, titled Post COVID Policy Options to Enhance Australia’s Innovation Capabilities. As stated in the executive summary:

“…the White Paper presents a series of recommendations on how some judicious fine-tuning of government policies and regulations aimed at encouraging world-class innovation and R&D – particularly in the lagging small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector – could unlock this potentially rich future source of growth and prosperity, and ultimately help to secure the Australian economy against over-reliance on its currently narrow and potentially unstable foundations.” 

The eight recommendations of this flagship thought leadership project informed various policy positions of the IPA in 2021 and leading up to the Federal Election in May 2022. The main focus has been increasing productivity growth through boosting innovation by changing tax levers; promoting more effective collaboration between SMEs and universities, including more significant investment in Co-operative Research Centres; increased data availability, policy experimentation; and regulatory reform. Australia lags comparable OECD economies on private sector innovation and research by most metrics. It is imperative to turn this around if Australia is to build a sustainable and diversified economy and maintain its living standards.  

SDG 13: Climate Action

The urgency around climate action reached an all-time high in 2021, driven by the delayed COP 26 conference and updated science, as released in the Fifth Assessment Report from the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The accounting profession has been responding accordingly, and in 2021, the work of various organisations over the past decade culminated into the formation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB). Housed within the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation (based in London, UK), the ISSB aims to create a standardised, consistent, and comparable global baseline for sustainability reporting that is held to the same rigour as financial reporting. Given the momentum around climate change, climate risk has been identified as the first topic of focus for the ISSB. The IPA has contributed to the consultations, expressing support for the ISSB, with a specific interest in scaling reporting developments designed for large companies into the MSME context.  

To demonstrate a commitment to action on climate, the IPA has signed as a supporter of the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter (PBCAC). This Charter acknowledges that no single profession has the resources and expertise to deliver an adequate response to climate change. Therefore, the PBCAC creates a collaborative forum for aspirational professional associations to innovate and support members with Paris-aligned and SDG-focused business models and strategies. 

In addition, the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) (based in New York, USA), and representing over 3 million accountants worldwide, has anchored its strategy in the SDGs and has encouraged all accounting bodies to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. The IPA strongly supports the role of accountants, business advisers and businesses in general in contributing to achieving the SDGs. 

On a more localised level, the IPA has introduced bespoke ESG courses and discussion groups for all business advisers, to raise their own awareness and capability to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, with a specific focus on small business and SMEs.

SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions

While creating and delivering value for members is our crucial responsibility and vital for continuity, the IPA’s central reason for being is to improve the life of small business. Accordingly, the IPA’s advocacy and policy platform aim to serve the needs of our members, the profession, and the best interests of the small business community and the public interest. This can only be achieved in the presence of strong institutions. 

The IPA takes a collaborative and consultative approach to its advocacy; however, more recently, the IPA has adopted an approach of ‘net positive advocacy.’ This is described by Polman and Winston (2021) as “a natural step” for a business with a clear understanding of its purpose and how this interlinks with its values. 

“Companies have long viewed ‘government relations’ as a way to resist regulation or fight for tax breaks and other special treatment. We propose, instead, that businesses approach governments openly and transparently, to improve the rules, help policy makers reach their goals, and solve larger problems for the benefit of all. We call this approach net positive advocacy.”

  • Paul Polman & Andrew Winston (2021)

We believe that this concept and approach suits the governance (especially transparency and accountability) aspect of ESG and is, therefore, vital to building strong institutions. The IPA’s work in partnership with other organisations, described below concerning SDG 17, has contributed to building strong institutions in other countries in our region.  

SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals

The IPA strongly believes that the achievement of the SDGs relies on partnerships, as reflected in our activities and outcomes discussed throughout this report. In addition to our advocacy work, we have also undertaken practical activities to put these policies into practice, both domestically and internationally. One example is our work which contributes to capacity building in the Pacific, including the development and implementation of education programs over the last 12 months in the Solomon Islands and Fiji. The Australian Government is partnering in some of this work. The objective is to make the education programs scalable for implementation in other Pacific nations. 

Specifically, we have entered into a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) between the IPA and the Fiji Institute of Accountants. The main objective is to ensure the transfer of skills and knowledge between the bodies and other support and development opportunities. This reflects that the accounting profession plays a pivotal role in achieving solid institutions such as those governing the financial sector.   

We should also mention the IPA’s partnership with ICSB, which has grown over several years. This includes the establishment of a Knowledge Hub and the exchange of ideas and information, as well as participation in a range of ICSB activities. This recently culminated in co-hosting the virtual thought leadership event entitled, Why do we measure economic success through unicorns? This event brought together global experts to examine: Our social, economic, and natural environments have all changed, but our thinking about measuring success has not kept pace. How will we conduct and measure financial success to ensure our impact on nature and economic development becomes more realistic, responsible, and sustainable? Will it be possible to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation in line with the United Nations’ 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.  

Concluding Remarks

While 2021 introduced the IPA’s strategic intent to foster a professional community for MSMEs, the work is certainly not over. The IPA hopes to enhance member engagement and community spirit by aspiring to increase member value. By leveraging this spirit, we also hope to contribute to achieving the SDGs by 2030. As we continue to learn and celebrate the diversity of our member base, inclusion and well-being initiatives are being prioritised in 2022 and beyond. MSMEs will always remain central to the IPA’s advocacy and activities, supporting our ultimate reason for being – to improve the quality of life of small businesses.

Article by:
Matt Cavicchia and Vicki Stylianou, 
Institute of Public Accountants

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