ICSB Proposes an Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses!

ICSB Proposes an Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses!

ICSB proposes an Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses – If we continue to think small in terms of solutions, we will be stuck in small and incremental changes

Sunday, March, 22, 2020

ICSB proposes an Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses – If we continue to think small in terms of solutions, we will be stuck in small and incremental changes

Sunday, March, 22, 2020

An Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses – All small businesses below 50 employees become tax-exempt as not-for-profits for 10 years.

“The world isn’t getting better, but technology is,” words spoken not by leaders but by an astute 9-year-old. The truth of that is like a thunderclap. Business innovation makes constant advancements, but oftentimes it’s at the sacrifice of humane practices. The very things that improve the quality of life for some come at a high “people” cost for very many others. Business innovation improves while humanity is removed. And that is when things are going relatively well.

The expression “desperate times call for desperate measures” may have sounded overused or laughingly cliche a few months ago, but those words have come to life around the world in just a few short months. The world, as we know it, is changing in front of our very eyes, and the aftermath of crisis will require more change, especially when we see the fractured economic crisis we are left with.

We think of economies and businesses as inanimate entities, but they are born, raised, and die on the backs of living, breathing people. They are inextricably linked, so when businesses go into crisis, so do the people who work for them. Particularly vulnerable during this time are small businesses that cannot afford to give employees extended paid leave and employees who depend on a weekly paycheck. Now is the time for large-scale measures to protect vulnerable businesses and workers, particularly seniors who face greater risks to their health and well-being.

If we continue to think small in terms of solutions, we will be stuck in small and incremental changes will only affect incremental improvements. But circumstances prove that the status quo is not enough. These desperate times, they call for, let’s not say “desperate” measures, but a well-thought-out plan. An audacious plan implemented on a global scale. What would that plan look like?

The Audacious Plan asks for the following 5 Guiding Principles:

1. All small businesses below 50 employees become tax-exempt as not-for-profits for 10 years. Small businesses are the lifeblood of their communities. Aside from selling necessary products or services, they provide social and community cohesion as well as jobs. Times of crisis like these hurt small businesses the most, which in turn harms society on a human level. When bars, restaurants, and other places for recreation suffer, socializing goes down. It should be considered a higher civic duty to make sure small businesses can survive. Countries can figure out ways to make money that don’t put a strain on small businesses. Big box stores in an area often beat up small businesses, and many of those wounds lead to their death. Giving small businesses tax exemption helps balance out the disadvantage, keep and create jobs, and generally give the local economy a much needed shot in the arm.

2. All countries establish standards for online education for a national education program for K-12 education in partnership with global IT firms. In this age of digital and virtual technology, pandemic or other disasters shouldn’t have to grind education to a halt. Citizens pay taxes for public education, but in many cases, it is not paying for alternatives in cases such as these. But even many affluent neighborhoods have schools without the ability to conduct education online, making it not solely an economic issue. The attitudes of educators need to be adjusted to view educated children as their civic duty under any circumstances where it is possible.

3. All public teachers and nurses get tax free benefits and free graduate education like veteran benefits. Teachers and nurses are a new breed of modern-day and all too often unsung heroes that should be given the benefits of such. Teachers are on the front lines trying to keep order, educate, inspire, and protect our children, whether the classroom is online or in real life. They often the first line of defense for children. Nurses help heal, comfort, and care for patients in close contact, putting their own health and well-being on the line daily. They fight a different war but a war; nonetheless, one that requires self-sacrifice. They should have the benefits of someone who serves and sacrifices for their community, including free tuition, tax-exemption, and healthcare benefits.

4. Free internet funded by local governments. Once a novel technological luxury, the internet can be very nearly regarded as a necessity in this era. Like many necessities, not all can afford it. The mindset towards internet access needs to change from being considered a private luxury to a public good. When citizens pay taxes for public services, the internet should be one of them. Internet for all.

5. A Global Small Business Congress to held on June 27 at the United Nations. For any of these guidelines to be enacted, there needs to be a meeting of minds; a summit for the people and by the people—organizations without government affiliation–to meet to discuss these plans. June 27 is the United Nations International Day for Micro-Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs Day). The day was proposed by ICSB and presented by Argentina to the UN General Assembly. This day is our meeting point.

We need to move swiftly forward with the Audacious Plan to Save Small Businesses.

Article written by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy
ICSB Executive Director
Deputy Chair and Professor at George Washington University School of Business



Human-Centered Impact: Advancing the UN SDGs through MSMEs

As we steer our ship into a New Development Course in a Changing World, the importance of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and the circular economy is crystal clear. MSMEs, which account for 90% of businesses, more than 70% of employment, and 50% of GDP worldwide, remain the core of the economy for most societies.

The United Nations General Assembly designated June 27 as “Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day” (A/RES/71/279) to raise awareness of the tremendous contributions of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together with MSMEs and entrepreneurs, we can reach the SDGs.


The Circular Economy – A Paradigm Shift with a Human-Centered Approach and MSMEs’ Role


A human-centered approach is central to the evolving ‘circular economy,’ emphasizing the importance of individuals and communities in driving sustainable transformation. Considering people’s well-being and prioritizing inclusive participation ensures that new systems align and contextualize local culture and personal/institutional needs. The circular economy represents a transformative framework to eliminate waste while fostering continuous resource utilization and social and economic development.

Replacing the linear ‘take-make-waste’ model, the circular economy relies on a closed-loop principle that focuses on human-centered product design, durability, reusability, remanufacturing, and recycling. Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are vital in this paradigm shift. It includes the green and blue economies, which are the base for sustainability and make for a more liveable planet. As crucial drivers of local economies, they are uniquely positioned to incorporate circular practices into their operations. By leveraging their agility and local knowledge, MSMEs can adopt innovative business models prioritizing sustainability and profitability while enhancing productivity and responding to local communities’ needs. Their role in designing people-oriented products and services underscores the importance of resilient, sustainable enterprises that meet environmental goals and community needs.


The UN SDGs and Circular Economy


The Circular Economy concept intersects with multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notably SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production). It promotes sustainable practices by emphasizing efficient resource use, waste reduction, and recycling. SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) is also relevant as the Circular Economy encourages innovation in production processes and technology to create more sustainable systems. Moreover, SDG 13 (Climate Action) is addressed through the Circular Economy’s focus on mitigating climate change impacts by reducing resource extraction and disposal emissions. Furthermore, SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy) is supported as circular practices optimize energy use and promote renewable energy sources. SDG 8 is about “decent work and economic growth” in which workers, in cooperation with employers, can jointly implement a Circular Economy model that drives growth and productivity. In the SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) context, the Circular Economy contributes to building more sustainable urban environments by minimizing environmental degradation and enhancing resource resilience. Lastly, the Circular Economy aids in achieving SDGs 14 and 15 (Life Below Water and Life on Land) by reducing pollution and waste generation, conserving ecosystems, and preserving biodiversity.


MSMEs Forward Together


The circular economy and MSMEs are inherently linked through a shared commitment to sustainability and growth. By adopting a human-centered approach within the circular economy framework, MSMEs can survive and thrive amid uncertainties by aligning their products and services with people’s needs and aspirations. MSMEs can lead the charge toward a sustainable and prosperous future with the proper support from governments, international organizations, and consumers. Governments and development partners can create an environment that supports MSMEs in their efforts to invest, trade, and thrive in global markets and harness the related development benefits.

The journey is long and challenging, but unity, innovation, and resilience will help us reach our destination. As we celebrate Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Day, let’s reaffirm our commitment to supporting these agents of innovation, growth, and sustainability. Together, with a human-centered mindset, we can shape an economically prosperous and environmentally sustainable future.

“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Let’s make the present count, for a better and sustainable future awaits us.



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



Small Business Horizon November 2023 Issue
AI Revolution and the Future Ahead

In the newest issue of Small Business Horizon Magazine (SBH), we are excited to present a fascinating feature that intersects the evolution of technology with the timeless appeal of music. Artificial intelligence has now reached the realm of cultural nostalgia, reviving the music of The Beatles and John Lennon for the ears of a modern audience.

Latest Magazine Issue: https://issuu.com/aymanelt/docs/sbhnovember2023

This technological masterpiece reflects an unprecedented collaboration between artificial intelligence and the arts. AI, having delved into the rich musical archives of The Beatles and Lennon, has emerged with a creation that marries the band’s and the artist’s signature elements with contemporary flair. By processing their intricate songwriting patterns, distinctive melodies, and harmonies, the AI has managed to produce a song that simultaneously harkens back to the Beatles’ and Lennon’s groundbreaking era and appeals to today’s listeners.

Our latest SBH magazine explores how this synthesis of AI and musical genius not only pays homage to John Lennon’s influential legacy but also signals a new era where technology redefines the boundaries of creative expression. As we reflect on Lennon’s impact, which transcended music and touched upon the themes of peace, love, and social consciousness, this AI endeavor is a powerful testament to his enduring influence.

Join us in this newest issue as SBH delves into innovative developments, celebrating how small businesses and the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem can draw inspiration from such cross-disciplinary innovations. Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy, our esteemed Editor and an advocate for small business dynamism, invites you to explore how the revolutionary spirit of figures like John Lennon continues to inspire and how it can inform the future of small business strategy and innovation.



The United States 2023 Top Small Businesses

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

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

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

Winner: Elderly Instruments of Lansing, Michigan!

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

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

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

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