Strengthening Global Collaboration: 

ICSB’s Partnership with OECD

The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) stands as a beacon of global collaboration, championing entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide. In pursuit of this mission, ICSB has forged a strategic partnership with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an international organization dedicated to building better policies for better lives since 2014.


Established on September 30, 1961, the OECD has been at the forefront of shaping economic policies to promote prosperity and well-being across its member countries. With its headquarters in Paris, the OECD’s work spans a wide range of areas, including economic growth, employment, education, and innovation.


ICSB has served as a non-governmental partner organization on the Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship (CSMEE) within the OECD framework. This partnership has provided ICSB with a unique platform to contribute to sharing knowledge and views on policies and initiatives that support MSMEs and entrepreneurship on a global scale. OECD was the first organization to support ICSB in creating the UN MSMEs in 2016.


Recently, ICSB participated in the 6th Session of the Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship (CSMEE), underscoring its commitment to advancing the interests of MSMEs worldwide. Dr. KiChan Kim, Chair of the Board of ICSB, Dr. Winslow Sargeant, Immediate Past Chair, Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President and CEO of ICSB, and Dr. Hartmut Mayer, ICSB Board Member, were among the esteemed representatives who attended the session. Dr. Thomas Heupel, Vice-Rector for Research of FOM University of Economics & Management 


Furthermore, ICSB, in collaboration with the government of Switzerland, hosted an OECD reception to support the critical work on MSMEs and to foster further collaboration. During the reception, Dr. Hartmut Mayer delivered a brief presentation on the upcoming ICSB World Congress, extending a warm invitation to all delegates to attend and contribute to the global conversation on entrepreneurship and SME development.


Through its partnership with OECD and active participation in global initiatives like the Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship, ICSB continues to drive positive change and empower entrepreneurs and MSMEs worldwide. These organizations are paving the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and prosperous future for all.


The collaboration between ICSB and OECD exemplifies the power of partnership in addressing complex global challenges and creating opportunities for sustainable growth and development. As we look ahead, we must continue strengthening and expanding such collaborations to foster entrepreneurship and SMEs as economic and social progress engines.


Pioneering Entrepreneurship: Switzerland’s Path to a Better World

Pioneering Entrepreneurship: Switzerland’s Path to a Better World

Pioneering Entrepreneurship: 

Switzerland’s Path to a Better World

Switzerland, renowned for its innovation and competitiveness, is a beacon among nations. With a rich tapestry of political governance, neutrality, entrepreneurial spirit, and a steadfast commitment to education, Switzerland has carved a unique path in history, leaving an indelible mark on its people and global standing.


Switzerland’s Prowess in Country Competitiveness

Switzerland’s success story regarding country competitiveness is multifaceted and rooted in various factors. Its groundbreaking political governance, remarkable neutrality, flourishing entrepreneurship, and unwavering dedication to education have propelled it to the forefront of global innovation and competitiveness.


Political Governance and Neutrality

Switzerland’s political governance has significantly contributed to fostering a conducive environment for innovation and competitiveness. The country’s long-standing tradition of political stability, strong institutions, and decentralized federal system have provided a solid foundation for economic growth and development. This stability has allowed businesses to thrive and innovate in a predictable and supportive environment.

Furthermore, Switzerland’s remarkable neutrality has contributed to its competitiveness on the global stage. By maintaining a neutral stance in international conflicts, Switzerland has established itself as a trusted partner for diplomacy, trade, and international cooperation. This neutrality has attracted businesses worldwide, fostering a diverse and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Entrepreneurship and Global Connections

Switzerland’s entrepreneurial spirit is a driving force behind its innovation and competitiveness. The country boasts a thriving ecosystem of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which form the backbone of its economy. These SMEs and globally renowned companies such as Nestlé, Villars-Holding, and Rolex contribute to Switzerland’s economic vibrancy and global reach.

Switzerland’s international connections have been instrumental in its economic development. With one of Europe’s highest percentages of foreigners, Switzerland has embraced globalization and leveraged its global networks to foster innovation, trade, and economic growth. The city of Fribourg, for instance, exemplifies Switzerland’s thriving international connections, with its multicultural ethos and esteemed university attracting talent and ideas from around the world.


Commitment to Education

Switzerland’s steadfast commitment to education has been a critical driver of its innovation and competitiveness. The country’s education system is highly regarded, offering a comprehensive and practical-oriented approach to learning. Institutions like the School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) exemplify Switzerland’s dedication to bridging theory with practice, equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in business.

By prioritizing practical relevance and addressing real-world challenges, Switzerland’s education system nurtures a pipeline of talent that fuels innovation and entrepreneurship. The collaboration between academia and industry ensures that graduates are well-prepared to contribute to the country’s economic growth and competitiveness.


Switzerland’s Resilience in Challenging Times

The 2020s brought unprecedented challenges to the global community, including a pandemic and a full-scale war in Europe. These events led to food and fuel price surges, exacerbating the turmoil faced by nations worldwide. Global living standards declined in this context, as reflected in indicators like the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI).

However, amidst this turmoil, Switzerland stood resilient, maintaining its top position in the HDI rankings for the second consecutive year. High incomes and long life expectancies buoyed Switzerland’s standing, showcasing the country’s ability to weather global storms and prioritize the well-being of its citizens.


The Power of Visionary Governance and Entrepreneurial Dynamism

Switzerland’s journey as a bastion of innovation and competitiveness is a testament to the power of visionary governance and entrepreneurial dynamism. The country’s leaders have embraced forward-thinking policies that foster creativity, collaboration, and economic growth. This visionary governance has created an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive and contribute to Switzerland’s global standing.

Moreover, Switzerland’s entrepreneurial dynamism has been a driving force behind its innovative prowess. The country’s entrepreneurs, motivated by profit and self-interest, have continually pushed the boundaries of innovation, creating new products, services, and industries. This entrepreneurial spirit has propelled Switzerland’s economic growth, enhanced productivity, and expanded opportunities for wealth creation.


Navigating the Complexities of the Modern Era

As the world navigates through uncertain times, Switzerland’s resilience and leadership offer invaluable lessons in navigating the complexities of the modern era. Globalization and innovation are twin pillars driving the trajectory of modern economies, shaping societies, and influencing standards of living worldwide. In a rapidly interconnected world, embracing innovation and fostering global connectivity has never been more crucial.

However, the pursuit of globalization and innovation comes with its challenges. The allure of being at the forefront of globalization and innovation can sometimes breed complacency, leading to a reluctance to take calculated risks necessary for further development. It is crucial to balance embracing innovation and managing its potential risks.


The Social Contract and Inclusive Growth

In his groundbreaking book, titled Human-Centered Economics, Richard Samans, Director of the International Labour Organization’s Research Department and who has served as its Sherpa to the G20, G7, and BRICS, emphasizes the importance of evaluating economic performance through the lens of household and community living standards rather than solely focusing on GDP growth. His book, building on esteemed economists such as Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, and Alfred Marshall, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the necessity of enabling policies and institutions to complement market mechanisms in achieving broad and lasting improvements in societal well-being.


The nexus of globalization and innovation reshapes traditional economic growth and development paradigms. Technological advancements, cross-border trade, and cultural exchange foster unprecedented opportunities for progress and prosperity. However, harnessing these opportunities requires a nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics and proactive policies that prioritize enhancing median household living standards.

Inclusive and sustainable growth requires cultivating a robust social contract alongside market mechanisms. By anchoring economic policies in equity and social justice principles, societies can ensure that all share the benefits of globalization and innovation. This principle, championed by Samans and echoed by economists and policymakers worldwide, underscores the importance of creating an inclusive society where the living standards of median households emerge as a central focal point deserving of concerted policy attention.



Switzerland’s journey as a beacon of innovation and competitiveness offers valuable insights and lessons for the world. Its success is rooted in visionary governance, entrepreneurial dynamism, and a steadfast commitment to education. As the world grapples with the complexities of the modern era, Switzerland’s resilience and leadership serve as a guiding light, reminding us of the power of embracing innovation, fostering global connectivity, and anchoring economic policies in equity and social justice principles.

In this rapidly evolving landscape, the pursuit of globalization and innovation must be guided by a holistic vision that prioritizes the well-being of individuals and communities. By embracing innovation, fostering global connectivity, and anchoring economic policies in principles of equity and social justice, societies can navigate the challenges of the 21st century and unlock new pathways to prosperity for all. In this paradigm, the living standards of median households emerge as a central focal point, deserving of concerted policy attention and concerted efforts from economists and policymakers worldwide.


Additional Information:

  • Switzerland’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection is a crucial driver of its competitiveness and innovation.
  • The country’s strong intellectual property rights protection and support for research and development contribute to its innovative edge.
  • Switzerland’s unique geographical location, nestled in the heart of Europe, provides it with strategic advantages in terms of logistics and connectivity.
  • The Swiss education system emphasizes vocational training and apprenticeships, nurturing a skilled workforce that meets the needs of the labor market.
  • The country’s commitment to multilingualism, with four official languages (German, French, Italian, and Romansh), fosters a diverse and inclusive society.


Article by:

Dr. Ayman ELTarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB and Deputy Chair, Department of Management, GWSB


Rico J. Baldegger is the Director and Professor of Strategy, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the School of Management Fribourg (HEG-FR) and Conference Chair of the Geneve/Fribourg Entrepreneurship Forum.


KiChan Kim, Chair, ICSB, Professor, The Catholic University, Seoul.




ICSB Joins Global Coalition for Social Justice in Unified Effort

In a significant move towards bolstering global efforts for social justice, the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) has officially joined The Global Coalition for Social Justice. This groundbreaking initiative aims to amplify collective endeavors in urgently addressing social justice deficits and accelerating the implementation of key global agendas, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Decent Work Agenda.

Expressing admiration for the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) pivotal role in advancing social justice, decent work, and sustainable development, the ICSB emphasizes its strong partnership with the ILO, marked by collaborative initiatives, including those in Egypt. Recent collaborations with key figures such as Mr. Dragan Radic, Chief of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Branch of the ILO, and Amber Barth, Director of the ILO Office for the United States and Canada, have further solidified the commitment to address crucial intersections of trade and labor rights, ensuring protection and resilience for MSMEs and their employees.

Aligned with shared values and aspirations, the ICSB formally announces its membership in the Coalition, leveraging its expertise in MSMEs to contribute significantly to its objectives. With a focus on leading thematic areas such as trade and labor in MSMEs, the ICSB aims to drive positive change by leveraging experience and networks.

Moreover, the ICSB pledges to spearhead initiatives to significantly advance social justice, particularly by safeguarding and enhancing resilience for MSMEs and their employees. Whether pursued independently or in collaboration with partners, these initiatives underscore the commitment to fostering a more equitable and inclusive global society.

In response to the ICSB’s commitment to the Global Coalition for Social Justice, Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO of ICSB, stated, “Our collaboration with the Global Coalition for Social Justice underscores our unwavering dedication to advancing social justice and fostering a more inclusive global society. Through collective action and collaboration, we are poised to make meaningful strides towards a world where every individual, regardless of background, has the opportunity to thrive.”



Top Ten Trends for 2024 for Small Businesses

Envision the future business landscape as a dynamic tableau pulsating with the vibrant hues of technology, entrepreneurship, and adaptability. The International Council for Small Business (ICSB) cordially invites you to embark on an exhilarating exploration into the realm of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) worldwide in 2024.



Our expedition is not a mere conjecture but is firmly rooted in rigorous analysis and forecasting. We are devoted to unraveling the complex patterns of the global business ecosystem. Our unique strength lies in the active involvement of our dedicated members and board members, who generously contribute their insights and expertise. They are the master weavers of this vibrant tapestry, enriching our comprehensive understanding of the business landscape.



Our two flagship journals are pivotal in unveiling trends based on the research submitted and consumed within our community. These insights become the threads we intertwine into our understanding, enabling us to engage with partners, including major multinational organizations. Through this collective endeavor, we glean profound insights into the trends that will sculpt the business world in the forthcoming years.



As a vanguard in global entrepreneurship research and practice, ICSB is delighted to present our annual publication, ‘Top Ten Trends for MSMEs in 2024.’ This compilation spins an intriguing narrative around enduring principles and innovative ideas shaping the entrepreneurial journey in the upcoming year. Each trend represents a valuable nugget of knowledge meticulously curated by our team.



So, what is the Number One trend for MSMEs in 2024? ICSB reveals:



Number One Trend for 2024: MSMEs Forming Collaborative Alliances.



The paramount trend for 2024 redefines the landscape of MSMEs, highlighting the formation of Collaborative Alliances—an age-old concept rejuvenated with fresh vitality. It emerges as the #1 Trend for MSMEs, offering a transformative path forward for several compelling reasons. Businesses acknowledge the undeniable strength of unity in an era marked by economic uncertainties and disruptions. Like a multitude of Davids facing Goliath-sized challenges, MSMEs are now banding together, pooling their resources, expertise, and market insights to form a formidable force. This collective strength enables them to negotiate better terms, penetrate untapped markets, and weather market fluctuations with greater resilience than they could achieve as standalone entities.



Collaborative Alliances transcend mere resource consolidation; they foster a culture of innovation and cross-pollination of ideas. Within these alliances, members bring complementary expertise to the table, sparking collective problem-solving and a relentless pursuit of improvement. This collaborative ethos not only optimizes resource allocation and reduces operational costs but also bolsters the individual resilience of businesses in the face of unpredictable challenges. These alliances wield substantial influence by uniting their voices in advocacy for favorable policies and regulations, actively molding the business environment to serve their collective interests.



In essence, Collaborative Alliances symbolize the evolution of MSMEs, empowering them to thrive, innovate, and navigate the complexities of today’s dynamic business world with the strength derived from unity.




Farewell to 2023 – Glimpse into 2024

As we bid farewell to 2023, reflecting on the year characterized by challenges and opportunities is essential. The world grappled with new tensions, high energy costs, and the persistence of COVID-19 variants. These difficulties, coupled with the ongoing consequences of the pandemic, urged governments and businesses to seek innovative solutions. Two themes consistently stood out throughout this tumultuous period: resilience and frugality.

Resilience and Frugality in the Face of Adversity

2022, these themes began to emerge, and they remained at the forefront in 2023. The global community recognized that resilience, the ability to adapt to change and withstand disruptions, and frugality, the practice of doing more with less, were indispensable qualities in navigating these uncertain times.


The Role of MSMEs and Humane Entrepreneurship

Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship emerged as guiding lights in the journey to recovery. Deep-rooted in their local communities, MSMEs leveraged their connections to practice frugal innovation and seek complete recovery.


ICSB Predicted Top Trends of 2023

Despite the challenges, there were bright spots on the horizon. Here are some of the top trends that ICSB proposed that shaped 2023:

1- Digital Transformation Acceleration: The pandemic accelerated digital transformation efforts, with businesses embracing technology for remote work, e-commerce, and operational efficiency.

2- Sustainability and ESG: Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) considerations gained prominence, with businesses recognizing the importance of sustainability and social responsibility.

3- Resilient Supply Chains: Global supply chain vulnerabilities led to a shift toward more resilient and localized supply networks.

4- Entrepreneurship Ecosystems: Governments and organizations prioritized nurturing entrepreneurship ecosystems to support startups and small businesses, fostering innovation and economic growth.

5- Hybrid Work Models: The hybrid work model, combining remote and in-office work, became the norm, requiring businesses to adapt to this new reality.

6- Healthtech and Biotech Innovation: Rapid innovation in healthcare and biotechnology continued to address health challenges through telemedicine, digital health solutions, and biotech advancements.

7- Resurgence of Local Businesses: Consumers rallied behind local businesses, driving demand for unique products and personalized services.


A Glimpse into 2024

While predicting the future remains uncertain, certain principles will continue to guide us. Adaptability, innovation, and sustainability will remain paramount. As we move forward, the lessons learned in 2023 will shape our approach to an ever-evolving world. In embracing change and seizing emerging opportunities, businesses and individuals will chart a course toward a promising future. The resilience of MSMEs and the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship will continue to illuminate the path forward.



Baku: From the Silk Road to the Entrepreneurship Road

Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO of ICSB and Deputy-Chair at GW School of Business, launched the inaugural plenary session of the SME World Forum Research Day at the esteemed ADA University in Baku, Azerbaijan on November 15, 2023, with a groundbreaking proposal. He introduced a revolutionary concept, marking the next evolution from the historic Silk Road to what he termed “The Entrepreneurship Road.” Dr. ElTarabishy emphasized the significance of honoring our past while boldly stepping into the future. He passionately argued that the Entrepreneurship Road represents this new journey, leading us toward uncharted territories and exciting possibilities.

The Evolution of Baku: Embracing Global Changes

Baku, a city steeped in history and once a crucial node on the ancient Silk Road, is transforming remarkably. It’s emerging as a guiding light on the newly minted “Entrepreneurship Road.” This metamorphosis represents far more than a mere renaming; it’s a deep-rooted shift in perspective, aligning with the ever-evolving global landscape and the myriad of opportunities it presents.

Where the Silk Road was synonymous with trade and the intertwining of diverse cultures, the Entrepreneurship Road encapsulates a more contemporary ethos. It embodies the dynamic and innovative spirit of today’s youth, poised to tackle the unique challenges of our planet. This new path reflects a world where entrepreneurial endeavors are not just about economic gains but also about addressing environmental concerns, social inequalities, and the sustainability of our world.

The Entrepreneurship Road, therefore, is not just a route but a journey towards a more resilient and equitable future. It’s a call to action for the young and old alike to innovate, collaborate, and create solutions for a better world. In Baku, this road is taking shape through initiatives that merge tradition with technology heritage with modernity, creating a model for cities worldwide to follow. With its focus on sustainable development and inclusive growth, this road is paving the way for future generations to thrive. 

Guided by the Stars: The 17 SDGs and ESG

Looking up at the vast night sky, we find a profound reminder that we are accompanied by guiding lights along the Entrepreneurship Road. These are celestial stars, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and vital principles such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria. These SDGs, from eradicating poverty to ensuring environmental sustainability, serve as beacons, illuminating our entrepreneurial path with purpose and direction.

Similarly, ESG criteria inject a sense of ethical responsibility into business practices, ensuring that companies are profitable and accountable for their environmental impact and social contributions. As entrepreneurs and innovators travel this road, these guiding stars provide a balanced approach, intertwining economic growth with sustainable and equitable practices.

Together, the SDGs and ESG criteria form a celestial map, helping us navigate the complexities of modern business and ensuring that our entrepreneurial pursuits align with the greater good. They remind us that our endeavors should contribute positively to the planet and its inhabitants, safeguarding resources and opportunities for future generations. As we venture down the Entrepreneurship Road, these goals and principles light our way, ensuring a journey that is not only successful but also sustainable and socially responsible. 

Centering on the Human: ICSB’s Vision

ICSB’s commitment to Humane Entrepreneurship forms the soil of the Entrepreneurship Road, centering on the human element in business. This concept extends beyond traditional business metrics, focusing on nurturing human potential and well-being. It’s a holistic approach where economic success is intertwined with social and environmental responsibility. The Entrepreneurship Road, underpinned by this philosophy, becomes a journey of economic growth, human development, and ethical business practices. Here, the success of entrepreneurial ventures is measured not only by their financial outcomes but also by their impact on people’s lives and the broader society. This road is charting a new course in business, where the ultimate goal is to create a sustainable, inclusive world that values human dignity and well-being at every step.

Sustainability and Circular Economy: Legacy for Future Generations

Sustainability and adopting circular economy principles are fundamental components of the Entrepreneurship Road, especially as it unfolds in Baku. This approach is not just about meeting the needs of the present; it’s a commitment to future generations. In embracing these sustainable practices, Baku sets a precedent for responsible and efficient resource utilization, ensuring that economic growth does not come at the expense of environmental health or social equity.

The circular economy model, which emphasizes resource reuse, recycling, and regeneration, is crucial in this journey. It challenges the traditional linear economy of “take-make-waste” and proposes a system where waste is minimized and resources are continuously cycled back into the economy. This reduces environmental impact and offers economic opportunities for new markets and job creation.

In Baku, integrating these principles into the Entrepreneurship Road is paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable urban development. It’s about creating a city where businesses thrive by innovating to enhance environmental stewardship and social well-being. 

Conclusion: A New Path Forward

The transition from the Silk Road to the Entrepreneurship Road represents a seamless and thrilling evolution in entrepreneurship. This shift marks not just a change in concept but an inspiring new direction, particularly for the youth. The Entrepreneurship Road is more than a mere pathway; it’s a destination with possibilities, shaping a future where young minds are at the forefront of innovation and progress. It’s a journey that emphasizes the importance of nurturing and focusing on the next generation, as they are the ones who will drive us forward on this exciting new road.

Written by:

Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

Contributions by:
Ambassador Oh Joon, Former Korean Ambassador to the UN and the 71st President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

Winslow Sargeant, Immediate Past Chai, ICSB

Vicky Stylianou, Incoming Chair, ICSB, Executive General Manager, Institute of Public Accountants, Australia