Human-Centered versus People-Centered

Human-Centered versus People-Centered

Human-Centered versus People-Centered: Understanding the Difference, because words do matter

Macroeconomics is a branch of economics that studies how an overall economy—the markets, businesses, consumers, and governments—behaves. The focus is on metrics on output, not on the individuals who carry out the tasks to make these sectors work. On the other hand, human rights connect us through a shared set of rights and responsibilities. Every person has value and dignity.


In entrepreneurship and policymaking, two approaches are often used to address the needs of individuals and communities: human-centered and people-centered. While they share a common goal of improving the well-being of people, there are significant differences between the two approaches.


People-centered approaches tend to prioritize the needs and concerns of specific groups or communities, while human-centered approaches prioritize all individuals’ fundamental needs and values. While both approaches have benefits and drawbacks, it is essential to understand the distinctions to determine which method is appropriate for a given situation.


For example, consider the case of small businesses. A people-centered approach to small business policy might focus on the specific needs of small business owners and their communities, such as access to capital, tax incentives, and workforce development programs. While this approach can effectively address the concerns of small business owners and their communities, there may be more effective ways to ensure the long-term sustainability and growth of small businesses.

On the other hand, a human-centered approach to small business policy would prioritize the fundamental needs and values of all individuals involved in the small business ecosystem. This might include fair labor practices, environmental sustainability, and equitable access to resources and opportunities. A human-centered approach to small business policy can create a more sustainable and reasonable ecosystem for small businesses by prioritizing these fundamental needs and values.
It is important to note that a human-centered approach does not oppose the interests of specific groups or communities. Instead, it seeks to ensure that their interests are aligned with the interests of all humans and the greater good. By focusing on the well-being of all individuals involved in a particular ecosystem, a human-centered approach can create a more just and equitable society for everyone.

To achieve a more sustainable and equitable future for small businesses, it is crucial to adopt a human-centered approach that prioritizes the well-being of all individuals, regardless of their background or affiliation. As the world moves towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we must shift our focus towards implementing people- and human-centered policies.

At the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), our focus on human-centered policies for MSMEs aligns with the UN SDGs and our commitment to sustainability. By prioritizing the needs and well-being of individual entrepreneurs and their communities, we can create a more prosperous and equitable future for all. Through our research, programs, and networking efforts, we aim to promote policies and strategies that prioritize the human element of small business ecosystems, ultimately leading to a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

For ICSB, being Human Centered is synonymous with promoting Humane Entrepreneurship. Humane Entrepreneurship is an approach to entrepreneurship that prioritizes the well-being of individual entrepreneurs and their communities. It seeks to create sustainable and equitable ecosystems that are profitable and socially responsible. Humane Entrepreneurship creates an environment where businesses can thrive, and communities can prosper by prioritizing the fundamental needs and values of all individuals involved in a particular ecosystem. ICSB believes that a human-centered approach to entrepreneurship, grounded in the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship, is essential to creating a more just and equitable society for everyone.

Ultimately, a human-centered approach is not only essential for sustainable development and social progress, but it is also a moral imperative. We must create a world that prioritizes all individuals’ well-being and fundamental needs, regardless of their background or affiliation. So let us work together to create a more just and equitable world where all conditions are met, and everyone has the opportunity to thrive.


Written by:
Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy
President & CEO, ICSB
Deputy Chair, Department of Management
GW School of Business

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When AI Meets Small Business

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the landscape of small businesses by offering new solutions to long-standing problems. However, while AI can potentially increase efficiency and productivity, it also comes with challenges. 

Pros of AI for Small Businesses

Increased Efficiency

One of the primary benefits of AI is that it can automate routine tasks, freeing employees to focus on more complex and creative tasks. For example, chatbots can handle customer service inquiries, reducing the workload of customer service representatives. Similarly, automated inventory management systems can track stock levels and reorder products when necessary, reducing the need for manual input.

Improved Customer Service

AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can provide instant and personalized customer support 24/7. This can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, as customers feel heard and valued. Additionally, AI can analyze customer data and provide insights into customer preferences and behaviors, helping businesses tailor their products and services to meet their customers’ needs.

Enhanced Decision-Making

AI algorithms can process vast amounts of data quickly and accurately, providing businesses with insights that would be impossible to uncover manually. This can help companies to make data-driven decisions that are more informed and accurate, leading to increased profitability and competitiveness.

Cost Savings

AI can help small businesses reduce labor costs by automating routine tasks and reducing the need for manual labor. Additionally, AI-powered inventory management systems can optimize stock levels, reducing the amount of capital in inventory. This can result in significant cost savings over time.


Cons of AI for Small Businesses

High Initial Investment

AI requires a significant initial investment, including hardware, software, and employee training. As a result, small businesses with limited budgets may find it challenging to justify the expense of implementing AI technology.

Lack of Expertise

AI technology is complex, and many small businesses lack the in-house expertise to implement and manage it effectively. This may require firms to hire outside experts, increasing the cost of implementing AI.

Data Security Concerns

AI relies on data to function effectively, but this data can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks and other security breaches. In addition, small businesses may not have the resources to implement robust security measures, making them more susceptible to data breaches.

Ethical Concerns

As AI becomes more advanced, there is a growing concern about its impact on society. For example, AI algorithms can perpetuate bias and discrimination if incorrectly designed and implemented. Therefore, small businesses must be aware of these ethical concerns and ensure their AI systems are designed and implemented ethically and responsibly.



AI has the potential to revolutionize small businesses, offering new solutions to long-standing problems. While challenges are indeed associated with implementing AI, the benefits are significant. Small companies can leverage AI to increase efficiency, improve customer service, enhance decision-making, and save costs. First, however, small businesses need to be aware of the potential drawbacks of AI, including the high initial investment, lack of expertise, data security concerns, and ethical concerns. By understanding these pros and cons, small businesses can make informed decisions about whether and how to implement AI technology.

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Why an Entrepreneurial Revolution?

Why an Entrepreneurial Revolution?

Entrepreneurship is the backbone of society, unifying our global community like a rubber band keeping a stack of cards in order. Yet, like a rubber band, its resilience is equal to its sturdiness and strength, able to adapt to unpredictable changes and stretch to its limits in the name of innovation. Embracing creativity and change, entrepreneurship is ever-evolving, historically providing prosperity and health to humankind at large. So, why are we calling for an entrepreneurial revolution?

If the COVID-19 crisis has revealed anything to us, it’s the inequities our reality is built upon. From gender inequity to racial injustice, it has become clear that we cannot move forward as a global community without taking our neighbors’ hands, ensuring that we all move forward. Only when we stand on equal ground by uplifting marginalized groups can we create a truly humane world. In viewing entrepreneurship and business from this lens, we can establish the “new normal” for society as human-centered, building upward together.

Statistically, according to the World Inequality Report 2022: out of all global labor incomes, women make only 35%, while men make 65%. Perhaps even more disturbing is that this number for women increased by only 5% from 1990–2020. Income inequality is not only apparent in the discussion of gender, but also social classes. As of 2020, the average income of the top 10% of people in the world was 38 times higher than that of the bottom 50%. Similarly to the dismally slow improvement in income-gender disparity, the share of income collected by the poorest half of the world’s people today is around half of what it was in 1820.

Essentially, with the legacy of global economic imbalance in the arrangement of world production between the mid-19th and -20th centuries, wealth is not being distributed fairly, causing marginalized groups to remain in the minority with less opportunity for self-betterment than those in power. Humane entrepreneurship aims to cultivate a world where these numbers even out—where we center economic prosperity to achieve equity for all.

The World Inequality Report 2022 continues by demonstrating how global income inequality is closely tied to climate change impacts. Although humans emit about 6.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide per capita per year, the top 10% of emitters contribute to nearly 50% of all emissions, while the bottom 50% generate only 12%. Therefore, beyond humankind’s livelihood and fair living standards relying on a more equal distribution of wealth, so too is the wellbeing of our planet. As the health of both humans and our planet are innately intertwined, it is obvious that we must rethink and reshape our business practices to promote sustainability and equity; otherwise, there will be no future to plan for.

The world has changed suddenly and irrevocably within the past few years. However, it’s our responsibility as entrepreneurs to use our adaptability and resilience to provide economic prosperity to our global community. With equity between different social groups, and the health of our planet at the forefront of the entrepreneurial revolution, we can sculpt the ultimate humane future.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Deputy Chair, GWSB, Department of Management

War & Entrepreneurship

War & Entrepreneurship

We are all playing witness to a 21st-century war in Europe—seeing its widespread effects on all aspects of society across the globe.

In his piece paper, “The history of business and war: introduction,” Dr. Erik Lakomma (2017)[1]  describes how there is a significant lack of formal research currently being done on war’s influence and effect on business, specifically entrepreneurship. The following explores war’s relationship to entrepreneurship and proposes a humane approach to both the generation and rehabilitation of the affected economies, focusing on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

The people of Ukraine are no strangers to struggle. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has ushered in an era of frugal innovation, as most habitats have endured three, if not four, national crises in their lifetimes. But today—with nearly two million Ukrainians internally displaced and over two million have already fled the country—it’s time to ask, what happens when people are pushed too far into scarcity? When there are not enough resources to survive, let alone continue conducting business?

Both Russian and Ukrainian entrepreneurs and small businesses feel the steep effects of a wartime economy. While the rest of the world sees rocketing natural gas and dwindling supplies of staples like wheat, the Russian and Ukrainian experiences with both are intensified. As a result, the worth of the Russian Ruble has fallen to a record low against the US Dollar, and corporations around the world have worked tirelessly to relocate business operations and withdraw any assets from Russia. In addition, on March 11th, the United States, along with G7 countries and the European Union, announced the implementation of national economic sanctions with an intended goal of “building on the unprecedented package of economic sanctions and export controls already imposed on Russia.”

With such sanctions, what is demanded and what can be supplied shifts during the war in general. Wartime realities require frugal innovation, locally and globally, and the impediments of conflict can spur industry in new ways. Historically, there is a myriad of examples of this. While the War of 1812 is known for having provided “an impetus to American textile production,” World War II is acknowledged for the growth of the electronic and aircraft industries. Around the globe, we are experiencing new grassroots and viral movements of support in support of Ukraine. People worldwide began booking Airbnb stays in Ukraine without traveling there and purchasing digital downloads from Ukrainian vendors on Etsy and eBay, all to push funds into the country. Companies such as BlaBlaCar have even found more tangible ways to support transporting Ukrainians to safety.

Just as war influences business and entrepreneurship, conversely, entrepreneurship influences war. Known as the military-industrial complex, the phenomenon refers to the influence of companies on the government towards “continued or increased military spending.” Demonstrated most frequently by the United States elected officials who remain dependent on military industries and vote for pro-war policies, the military-industrial complex benefits primarily those in weapons supply and military technology advancement. Today, however, we see information and media companies playing much more prominent roles in the complex by disseminating (mis)information and advertising and modern offensive practices, such as cyberattacks.

These powerful companies can influence the votes of Congress. Unfortunately, the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are most likely not being represented or heard. These more singular units of economic power are so interwoven into our societal blanket that we often forget to consider their needs. When aiding them during trying times, they significantly lose between individuals and large companies.

Yet these small units communicate to the world: when it is safe, what to buy, and from where. They are local guardians, and until Ukrainian and Russian small business owners can open their doors once again, the imperative must be to protect their importance. War is another “pre-existing condition” [2] to global disease. If this new normal can not be based on any consistent sense of external stability, let’s decide to center it on an approach that is always within reach. In applying energies toward creating human-centered relationships, policies, and structures, there is a fighting chance to equilibrate the balance so that we can live in a place that upholds equity for all.

ICSB’s goal is to help bring perspective and voice to the MSMEs and entrepreneurs across the globe, and now, especially within both Ukraine and Russia. In 2016 when Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy formulated a proposal for a United Nations Day for MSMEs, he intended to see a day in which all countries, stakeholders, and companies of all sizes might celebrate the importance of MSMEs as the core units of modern society. Furthermore, MSMEs Day would act as a platform from which the global community could build ideas, synergies, and initiatives to help MSMEs prosper and grow while swiveling international attention towards these smaller units.

The day itself, June 27th demonstrates the importance of MSMEs as indicators of a peaceful society. Hence, we picked June 27 as MSMEs Day. A constant reminder of the importance of MSMEs.

Our daily choice is empathy over judgment, equity over greed, enablement over denial, and empowerment over restriction. Created from observing how small businesses operate, Humane Entrepreneurship (HumEnt) seeks to uplift humanity through creativity and innovation to develop solutions that benefit everyone. The approach of HumEnt changes our priorities.

In days of war, the future might not seem as if it is being guided towards Humane Entrepreneurship, but take a moment and look around. The world is standing up and fighting to honor humanity. So when companies pivot their creative solutions to aid those suffering in any war, it is the correct way forward.

Last year, I asked you to envision a world built around the most vulnerable[3]. I requested that we center our energies on those who need them the most and then, from that place, work to create informed policies that generate a resilient entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Our world has changed again, so I repeat my request. 

[1] Erik Lakomaa (2017) The history of business and war: introduction, Scandinavian Economic History Review, 65:3, 224-230, DOI: 10.1080/03585522.2017.1397314

[2] and [3]

Article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Deputy Chair, GWSB, Department of Management

Future of Automation

Future of Automation

As our society moves through Industry 4.0 and acclimates to manufacturing automation, this 4th Industrial Revolution is throwing our world into uncharted waters where cold, uncompromising technology meets the warmth and unpredictability of the human experience. 

Within the context of humane entrepreneurship, we understand that each entity has its histories, values, and cultures that inform how they do business and interact with their peers. However, any time we approach a different way of operating, there are new questions that arise. Chief among them, we must ask ourselves what the role is of humane entrepreneurship at this unfamiliar intersection of technology vs. the human experience and how we can consider the lessons we have learned from the past to embody the society we want to be in the future.

According to academic and researcher Ivea ZeBryte, we must keep sight of the human element in all that we do. ZeBryte says, “When teaching entrepreneurs, we should be working through a matrix where empathy is understood as the ability to put oneself into the place of another, to identify and be sensitive to others that we recognize as different from us.” Therefore, it is precisely the differences that challenge us to come together for the greater good. To move forward together into the next realm of entrepreneurship, ZeBryte lays out the road map to follow: reevaluate, or delineate what we value as humanity;  reimagine, or work out the plurality of futures ahead of us; and reset, or build a new system of value creation and exchange based on these agreed-upon ideas.

Meanwhile, taking a more micro-level view, we must also consider what influences entrepreneurs and their decision-making processes, both internal and external. Psychological factors include personality, mindset, and level of cognition, while non-psychological elements encompass affiliation to a group, religion, culture, and friends and family. Additionally, one could underscore three main orientations: entrepreneurial, emphasizing innovation; human resource, regarding empowerment; or sustainability, highlighting environment. “When taking all of these factors cumulatively, it creates a multi-dimensional construct that is humane entrepreneurship,” says Indu Khurana, Assistant Professor at Hampden-Sydney College. Without consideration for the individual and the society, including the influences behind our decisions, we lose the value of humane entrepreneurship.

In the meantime, it is essential to reconcile these humane concepts with new technology that is rapidly advancing this current industrial revolution. Take, for example, the travel industry. With tourism contributing USD 8.9 trillion to global GDP, it is closely linked to countries’ social, economic, and environmental well-being. The opportunities to make it even more innovative and efficient through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation are endless. Still, it is essential to consider what cost they may come, particularly for these citizens for whom so much is at stake. As Dr. Jugho Suh, Assistant Professor at George Washington University School of Business, warns, “AI-based off of Big Data is not a panacea for all problems…AI can read patterns and behavior, but it cannot read attitude, values, or underlying motives for action.” Therefore, while it is essential to lift the travel industry in this current age of technology, we must not do so at the expense of human lives.

At its core, technological advances have brought us to the current era and given countless opportunities to those living today. However, we are experiencing an important crossroads right now, one with immense ramifications for future generations, and it is up to us the future we choose to orient ourselves toward. Although there will always be significant differences across cultures, we must find common values to move into the future that we desire together.

Watch the session below for more on the impacts of colonialism on Chile, religion in India, and AI technology on the travel industry.

article by:

Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

President & CEO, ICSB

Deputy Chair, GWSB, Department of Management

Education and Humane Entrepreneurship

Education and Humane Entrepreneurship

Education and Humane Entrepreneurship

Sunday, September 5, 2021, by Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy

Education sits as the cornerstone of creating socially and environmentally conscious entrepreneurs. When we imagine the future of humane entrepreneurship, it includes empowered employees and well-educated entrepreneurs making intelligent decisions to heal the environment and benefit the world. To enable entrepreneurs to make these changes we envision, we must educate them on the issues that truly matter, such as integrating social entrepreneurship with sustainable entrepreneurship and employing business practices that protect our planet, communities, and future generations.

First, we must consider the significance of climate change and the role that government officials and entrepreneurs play in preventing further damage to the planet. Although governments are making changes to reduce negative impacts on the environment, we are still concerned about whether profitability and sustainability can coexist. We must educate all stakeholders about climate risk and their duty to promote sustainability in response to this. As observed by Dr. Mariya Yesseleva-Pionka, Global Certificates Manager for ICSB and adjunct professor at University of Technology Sydney, “With every new business venture comes a great responsibility for making climate-friendly decisions.” Therefore, we need to continue developing and supporting eco-friendly solutions such as green start-ups, fin-techs, and sustainability reporting and educate entrepreneurs on how to implement SDGs and sustainable business practices properly. It is imperative to note that long-term profits will not matter if the planet deteriorates due to climate change.

This sustainability education is inherently tied to education about social entrepreneurship, as both of these entrepreneurial approaches target issues on a human and environmental level. Although there exists an increasing amount of research on social entrepreneurial intention (SEI), or the motivation of entrepreneurs to build new social enterprises, we still lack knowledge about different SEI antecedents, such as personality, cognition, and experience, as well as variables moderating antecedent-SEI relationships, including economic and social influences. According to Dr. Phillipp Kruse, a scientific staff member at the Dresden University of Technology, the solution to these research issues lies in examining SEI in countries with different cultures and economic situations and developing a validated instrument with which to measure SEI. Additionally, social entrepreneurship educators must include more psychological input in university courses to strengthen participants’ motivational ties to social entrepreneurship.

With the amount of power entrepreneurial learners possess to change the future of business and the environment, we owe them the best education, educators, research, and settings. We must listen inclusively to the voices of these learners and new and small businesses alike. As stated by Dr. Norris Krueger, Senior Research Fellow at the College of Doctoral Studies, UOPX & Entrepreneurship Northwest, “Students are our secret weapon. In terms of learning and educating, and especially in terms of the ecosystem.” To provide entrepreneurial learners with the best resources, we must shift from top-down systems to bottom-up, from institutions to people, and from hierarchies to networks. Inclusivity and active listening are the keys to discovering what our entrepreneurial students need to flourish, improve their communities, and shape the future of humane entrepreneurship. In educating entrepreneurs and stakeholders on their sustainable responsibilities, increasing students’ ties to social entrepreneurship at the university level, and providing high quality, comprehensive education, we grant entrepreneurs the tools necessary to implement safer business practices and create long-term, positive change for our environment, communities, and ways of life.

 For more on the importance of entrepreneurial education, watch the session below.