GW October Conference Makes a Point or Two…

October 29, 2018

October 23-24, 2018, Washington DC- The 9th Annual GW October Conference, titled “Entrepreneurship and Economic Development: A Winning Combination”, is officially over but the ripple effects of what took place will be felt across the globe and for many years to come.  To begin with, this conference, held on the campus of George Washington University, was attended by prominent academics, banking officials, government leaders, entrepreneurs and influential members of the global business community.  With powerful partners such as The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), The World Bank, The United Nations (UN), The US Small Business Administration (SBA), The International Finance Corporation (IFC), Korean Management Institute (KMI), and Egyptian corporation Tatweer Misr, GW October was in good company. The additional support from the Office of The Mayor of the District of Columbia (DC), Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affair, The Bank of Taiwan, The US Department of Labor-Women’s Bureau, The Arab Republic of Egypt’s Ministry of Trade & Industry, Delta Asia Financial Group, Industrial Bank, and The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Trade and Commercial Office elevated the tenure of the discussions to a “summit” atmosphere.  There were representatives from more than 24 countries counted among the attendees.  Even with the great October weather in DC, that was not enough to dampen the turnout for the conference.

The expanded format that included an extra day for the pre-conference was nothing short but extra-ordinary.  After a welcome from GW October founder, Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, he introduced The International Council for Small Business (ICSB)’s President, Dr. Geralyn McClure Franklin and GW School of Business Dean, Anuj Mehrotra to attendees of the opening session. Conference co-host, Mr. Eugene Cornelius, ICSB Director of International Relations and Strategic Alliances took over from there. The full-day seminar featured SBA best practices targeted for policy makers, economic development practitioners, educators, and resource stakeholders interested in gathering insight on how SBA leverages public-private partnerships and resourcse partner relationships to serve U.S. small businesses.  In addition to showcasing and building recognition of the SBA, the program discussed growth through exporting and encouraged networking between respective ecosystems to help connect small businesses to the global marketplace.  The full- capacity audience included foreign embassy representatives and government officials, as well as local educators and a variety of economic development practitioners.  There was a lively and informative discussion on procurement, counseling and training, financing, disaster recovery, and regulatory issues.  The last speaker of the day was Dr. Ming-Ji Wu, Taiwan’s Director General, Small and Medium Enterprise Administration, Ministry of Economic Affairs. His presentation gave the attendees insight on how the SBA model for supporting small businesses has been adopted to be used in Taiwan. This was a fitting way to end this exciting day.  GW October was off to a great start.

The opening session of the Policy Panel was highly anticipated.   The lineup included ICSB’s President-Elect, Mr.  Ahmed Osman.  He was introduced by Dr. Winslow Sargeant, ICSB’s Senior Vice President for Partnerships and welcomed the speakers and attendees to GW October. He also extended an invitation to attend the 2019 ICSB World Congress to be held for the first time in Cairo, Egypt.  It was then time for Mr. Joseph Jye-Cherng Lyu, Chairman Bank of Taiwan and Taiwan Financial Holdings, the keynote speaker to address the audience.  Mr. Lyu (also called Chairman Lyu) was a dynamic and engaging speaker.  He addressed the central theme of the conference, which is that Entrepreneurship and Economic Development is a winning combination.   He presented Taiwan as an example.  Here are few of the numbers.  Taiwan remains 13th in the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global competitiveness rankings.  It is ranks 8th in the Asia-Pacific women entrepreneurs’ index.   It should not come as a surprise that Chairman Lyu was armed with data and information.  He has set a few records himself.  Mr. Lyu started his career with the Bank of New York. He later left to join Banque Nationale de Paris.  During his chairmanship of the Taiwan state-owned enterprise commission, he turned around every single state-owned enterprises.   In December 2002, the Far Eastern Economic Review (later acquired Dow Jones) named Mr. Lyu as “Mr. Fix-it” for his success in the revitalization of all the Taiwan’s state-owned enterprises and all companies.   Mr. Lyu later became the youngest minister (Ministry of Finance) in the history of Taiwan.

The first session of the Policy conference focused on “Entrepreneurship and the Role of the State.”  Dr. Ming-Ji Wu, Director General for the Small and Medium Enterprises Administration (Ministry of Economic Affairs), tied the role of small business polices on how the small business sector functions in Taiwan.   Dr. Wu provided a detailed presentation on how Taiwan has built an early-stage investment system for entrepreneurs and small business owners.  This included an emphasis on Social Impact Innovation and Support for Women Entrepreneurship.   One fact that was noteworthy was that one-third of small business CEOs were women.  Taiwan also had established an Entrepreneur Visa and Work Permits program to encourage immigration to Taiwan. The visa program allowed the holder’s spouse and children to apply for Taiwan’s Dependent Visa.

The next speaker was Dr. Patricia Greene, the 18th Director for the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor.   She gave a well-received history on how policies that encouraged women entrepreneurship has developed over the years.  Dr.  Greene has published a lot on this topic and is a well-known research professor, who previously served on the faculty at Babson University.  Following Dr. Greene, Peter Cazamias, The Associate Administrator for the Office of International Trade (OIT) at the SBA, shared how entrepreneurial development policy contributes to small businesses being able to participate in import and exports.  This session wrapped up with ICSB’s President-Elect Ahmed Osman asking if there was a role for government in setting entrepreneurial policy.  His talk was at odds with the other presenter, but it led to an engaged question and answer discussion between the audience and the panel.

The next 2 sessions were equally thought provoking.   To really appreciate the content and the discussion that followed, you must get the transcripts.   The 9th Annual GW October Conference came and went but those in attendance will remember these topics for years to come.

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