Full Uncertainty That Is Our Certainty

Full Uncertainty That Is Our Certainty

We need to ensure that the entrepreneurial base grows and that the jobs become more diverse.

In acknowledging the global changes due to the unforeseen events over the past few months, Prince Constantijn van Oranje spoke about the societal and economic shifts that have taken place resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Having been personally and professionally affected, Prince Constantijn holds the unique perspective in seeing both the positive outcomes and painful truths that these past few months have revealed. In responding to the onset of the lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince Constantijn and his team immediately saw the need to “pivot” their strategy. Upon the crisis’ onset, they surveyed the startup ecosystem to be able to see clearly and more fully understand the ecosystem’s needs and its views of the perceived economic and financial impact that the pandemic and shut down would likely produce. Thanks to this work, Prince Constantijn and his team were then in a “position to negotiate a loan package with the government for the startup community.” This was an incredible move-in protecting the Netherlands ecosystem as startups are not typically included in government aid packages. Additionally, on an organizational level, the external stressors over the past few months have been a loud and sounding wake up call to “refocus our organizations.”

In recognizing that a change or shift in one city or region can have a butterfly effect and result in significant changes in a completely different place, we need to realize our true globalized and interconnected nature. Prince Constantijn was asked, as a leader of the tech industry, and Tech Leap.NL, specifically, what had initially attracted him to this industry. In his response, Prince Constantijn admitted that scale-up is most likely the toughest part of the business. To be continually fighting and forever entering into new spaces, building a scale-up was, personally, not for him. However, he has found his place working with people that do have this enthusiasm and passion for working to improve the world. He finds it incredibly stimulating to be working with so many who embody a “can do” and, further, will do attitude.

In leading this sector, however, Prince Constantijn van Oranje has seen incredible success as the Netherlands continues to be one of the fastest-growing startup hubs in Europe. More specifically, Winslow Sargeant provided some data to portray the Netherlands’ success, recalling that they are the “#1 developer of capital in Europe, #4 best country for business, and #1 best-connected economy in the world.” When asked to share his best practices or those that he has seen, Prince Constantijn described that the success born out of the Netherlands is thanks to the well-established and built ecosystem in the Netherlands, which has high levels of healthcare, education, widespread bilingualism, higher education, and necessary infrastructure. Besides the work that by the government, the culture amongst Dutch people leads to the constant questioning of authority, which assists in creating a culture of innovation. This, coupled with the number of multilevel international organizations in the Netherlands, the nation began in an excellent position. Being a smaller country with universal broadband capabilities, the Netherlands’ real secret is that the essential “innovation is in the people.” We have seen this exemplified by the way that societies have integrated the technology to change healthcare, education, and work practices because now there is a significant pressure to make these transitions happen.

If innovation truly does originate in the person, and most trends point to its accuracy, then we need to question, “Do startups need governments.” The answer may have changed from before COVID-19 to now. However, we can see that the government does indeed have a role to play. We saw how the virus disproportionately affected those who were already in a vulnerable and disadvantaged state. COVID-19 has shown us that the government has an important role to play in a crisis. Governments work as a type of last resort lender, who must provide specific schemes to ensure that people are paid. However, there is a precise balance to strike in that the government needs to be proactive, while not being too restrictive, to enhance the opportunity for new solutions, founded in a flexible system. Governments, additionally, can have a mindset of innovation and entrepreneurship, which will motivate them to invest in education, research, and innovative development.

If governments genuinely begin investing in funding and encouraging entrepreneurs, we need to think about how this will change national ecosystems, and then, in turn, how it might affect our preconceived ideas or beliefs about globalization. As the movement towards resilient supply chains and autonomy takes form, no one seems to be sure of how this will translate into a globalized system. However, we are confident that companies need to build alternatives to their complex supply chains, which fail in the face of disruption. Even governments that are used to outsourcing all their manufacturing have been unable to access critical equipment. Prince Constantijn points out that we have all become “more aware that the optimization of supply chains has its risks,” therefore, in the future we might see more strategic moves as companies weigh efficiency over the robustness of supply chains.

Resulting from these disruptions, however, individual companies and industries were able to demonstrate incredible resiliency as they pulled together and shifted to produce what was most necessary for society, which not surprisingly equated with what was most essential for humanity. It is entrepreneurship that lives at the heart of these trends of adaptability and innovation. Today, anyone can engage with entrepreneurship. As we see, technology hubs spread throughout the world; startups are popping up in places that have been typically excluded from substantial monetary gains, quality job creation, and decision-making processes in the past. However, now, people can create a business with a simple connection to the internet, which is changing everything.

This movement towards investment in entrepreneurship must come with an investment towards expanding the invitation of those who are typically working within the tech sector. Currently, the tech world is very white and male, therefore, now that more people can engage with this sector, we must be sure to generate the conditions so that the non-white and non-male identities can feel empowered to unleash their potential within this sector. Governments can play an additional role in opening up this conversation and establishing a culture of acceptance, invitation, and equitable policy. Prince Constantijn reflected on these questions asking, “How do we make the tech ecosystem more diverse?” and “Why do certain groups not feel empowered to be entrepreneurs?” Noting the apparent bias also amongst investors, Prince Constantijn continues to ask, “How do we ensure that the entrepreneurial base grows and that the jobs become more diverse?” Betting on diversity “as a force for good,” we can see clearly that our customer base is more diverse, so why not look to represent that diversity, in talent, skill, background, and orientation.

For Prince Constantijn van Oranje, the logic is simple: we must integrate entrepreneurship into our culture. In demystifying the tech sector, we can start to change people’s perceptions to see the opportunity and possible gains that entrepreneurship presents instead of solely the risks. In destigmatizing failure, we might be able to create a vibrant ecosystem, or “set of interrelated actors providing tech, money, talent, and market entry.” As COVID-19 worked as an “incredible triage,” businesses worldwide are deciding whether they want to stay at their size or make a leap forward. For many, that will involve entering the online market, which presents many possibilities. Unfortunately for companies that are not willing to continue forward, many will not survive.

In his closing remarks, Prince Constantijn van Oranje states that “the only thing you know is that you have full uncertainty, that’s your certainty.” In moving forward, hope is not the solution, but rather it is a mental guide that helps us move forward. In thinking about the approaching MSMEs Day, we can see the wonderful organizations and businesses that have come out of crises, the United Nations presenting as a great example. In his final words, Prince Constantjin reminds us that there will always be people who stand up to make a change, and right now, that change-maker could be anyone.

Thank you, Prince Constantijn van Oranje for your incredible presentation and sharing your time with us. For those interested in watching the full video, check it out below. We look forward to continuing this discussion at the MSMEs Day 2020 June 25th Celebration and June 27th Day of Action.

True Equitable Embodiment

True Equitable Embodiment

We are living through a revolution towards cohesion.

As protesters line the streets of every major city, I can not help but hear the cry for a just and green economy. All over the world, people are looking at the old and stagnant economic system of the past and recognizing the absence of its place in this new normal. This new normal, instead, invites an economy generated by and for the people, and I see humane entrepreneurs as the leaders of this movement.

We are living through a revolution towards cohesion. If we want to set the groundwork for circular systems of growth that uplift the humanity in each individual involved while working to protect the planet, then we might just create a world in which representation, equity, and empathy come naturally to leaders and followers alike. Currently, we are in the preliminary stages of change.

The collective world population is waking up to realize that the injustices that established nations can not go unnoticed and unrepaired. If we think for a moment as if a nation was an enterprise and, further, an entrepreneurial enterprise, what rating of Humane Entrepreneurship would the nation receive? If a country (any country) was an enterprise, would it present IDEAL, MODERATE, NEGATIVE, or HARMFUL Humane Entrepreneurship?

Seeing how the leadership and top managers have established cycles of harm that consider the financial profitability of the company over the well-being, enablement, and empowerment of their employees, it would seem that a country can also demonstrate systems of HARMFUL Humane Entrepreneurship. Typically improvements can not be created in or from a HARMFUL enterprise. Therefore, this points to foundational reforms, or the possible shut down of the company, so that it can rebegin from a healthier, more virtuous start. Within the transition from destroying to recreate, we might seek the HumEnt principles of empathy and equity as our guides to ensuring that the new company created does not repeat the same vicious cycles of the past.

We must emphasize that within every structure of society, and therefore including business, “respect for human dignity demands respect for human freedom.” The theory and practice of Humane Entrepreneurship are built around the notion that human capital, and the humanistic aspect, which is part of all of us, has been directly and indirectly forgotten within our societal practices. We seem to have simply omitted the value of each and every individual human, and instead replaced this value with that of economics. Therefore, we have accidentally turned economics into a destroying force for humane endeavors. However, seen over the past years, and represented mainly by micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, entrepreneurs have refound themselves and their ability to uplift both financial and social capital simultaneously. Coupled with the incredible movement happening around the world today, the world might be able to create enough synergy to start anew.

Within this restart, we can then imagine what we might want to include. Understanding the characteristics of humanistic management, empathy is an essential “driving factor for employee engagement and communicative business culture, leading to a better understanding between organizational members and stakeholders.” Let us, for a moment, reverse the experiment above, now magnifying a business to a nation. If within an enterprise, empathy can significantly enhance engagement and communicative culture, imagine the incredible changes that could arrive on the greater scale of a nation, if and when we all decided to value empathy towards ourselves and one another. As empathy is often thought of as the “starting point of design thinking,” it seems perfectly reasonable that this would be a guiding principle in reimagining and reshaping our new nation.

From empathy, comes a movement towards equity. At the firm-level, equity encompasses the “extent to which a company treats individuals in a fair and equal manner.” This essential component to the work and world culture promotes “a sense of proportion,” agreeing that “the outcomes individuals receive should be awarded in proportion to their inputs and outputs” and understanding that not all individuals are starting in the same place because of embedded covert discrimination. In forming companies and nations that work for equitable solutions, we agree to unearth the past that has created these inequalities and the present that continues to recreate them.

Leaders that manifest the principles of Humane Entrepreneurship will undoubtedly feel more guided than others when system shattering moments come about. Humane Entrepreneurs can quickly adapt to the changes by recognizing their role in searching and working towards a more significant upliftment of the humane aspect of life. It is leaders, such as these, who can understand the opportunities in differences and similarities that will and will continue to build a world made for everyone, one flowing virtuously, greeting growth for all.

We are living through a revolution towards cohesion.

Family Business as a Model for Humane Entrepreneurship

Family Business as a Model for Humane Entrepreneurship

Family firms tend to present a deep sense of responsibility for their communities.

Following the full day at the first Virtual Family Business Research and Practice Conference this past week, I have reflected much as to how many family businesses model the key principles found in Humane Entrepreneurship. Borne out of passion and motivated by togetherness, family businesses present quite correctly the ideal of beginning a business in a “virtuous and sustainable integration of Entrepreneurship, Leadership, and HRM, in which successful implementation leads to a beneficial increase in wealth and quality job creation, perpetuated in a continuous cycle.” Humane entrepreneurship centers around the people of business and expects profitability through those people.

Humane Entrepreneurship in Practice

Humane Entrepreneurship in Practice

Consumers are starting to recognize the value of being able to expend their resources while concurrently awakening to the troubles that small businesses globally face.

As the world retreats inward, both business practices and consumer habits have significantly shifted. Consumers are starting to recognize the value of being able to expend their resources while concurrently awakening to the troubles that small businesses globally face. As for businesses, many have also reflected on their values and practices, deciding where to make cuts and how to demonstrate employee-value at this moment. At large, we have all been influenced by this global reset.

Generation Corona

Generation Corona

Collective Culture Born Out of Individual Isolation

After months of shelter-in-place orders as well as even more extended periods of social distancing, the rhetoric surrounding the next steps is widespread. However, the conversations reimagining what our new normal might resemble has transformed from sterile and secluded into collective and social. Potentially borne out of the human spirit’s contrarian nature or, instead, our perspective-shifting solitude, it seems that this natural revolution, or COVID-19, has engaged us in finally seeing the importance of togetherness.

The previous barriers that were so meticulously placed to keep thick walls between the “haves” and “have nots” have metaphorically fallen. With nature as our great equalizer, we are stuck in this natural disaster. However, we have a choice. Do we want to spend all of our resources on rebuilding those walls, making our societies at large vulnerable to future disasters, or can we take this moment and recognize that those barriers need not exist in our world nor our minds. It seems ridiculous that a global pandemic was necessary to shake us out of our hierarchical worldview and realize that this is the moment to break down and reset.
This crisis has wholly changed our ideal present, and its legacy will continue to seep into generational changes in the future. Generation Corona. A group of entrepreneurs who will never look at sanitary mishaps or the absence of safety funds the same way. The next generations of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have been borne into a world in which expectations have no place. For those businesses that will live to see the other side of this pandemic as well as those that will launch following this intense and immediate form of social distancing, nothing currently exhibits normalcy, nor will it in the future.

In examining the 2020 world and future, we must release the mental hold on hazards and challenges, and look instead to growth and prosperity. MSMEs are recognized globally for their contributions to innovation and improvements in economic conditions. Last year, MSMEs most challenging challenge that inhibited their growth was lack of belief. The belief that a person can create something substantial and of importance to economic and social value must be deep to ensure real success. Entrepreneurship’s global trends have steered away from being solely a domain for the rich, well-connected, and gender-specific for years now, and this crisis will only push this trend forward more quickly. This global shock holds the potential to either promote the women, youth, families, and disabled who have transformed their communities and further societies or delay the necessary work of these underrepresented voices. Therefore, both entrepreneurs and their surrounding communities must work to foster the power of belief as a way to energize economies and improve economic situations. In continuing to actively encourage the creation and sustainability of MSMEs, not just the launch of a business, but also its maintenance of an adaptable and vibrant economic ecosystem, the results will involve meaningful impacts as all of us engage our power of belief in individual potential and the creation and sustainability of MSMEs.

The current pandemic has both halted and advanced much sustainable action. The global pause has led to an incredible lessening in atmospheric carbon. However, it has also exacerbated the current inequity and resulting symptoms of hunger, poverty, sexism, and ableism around the world. As MSMEs make up the very economic fabric of communities, reaching many sustainable development goals without even realizing it, they can be used as a measuring stick for progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. MSMEs sit in the unique and vulnerable position to both presents the solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, while also needing an incredible amount of resilience to be able to perform these necessary services. In our time of reflection at home, hopefully, we, as both entrepreneurs and customers, can realign with importance, to create more informed producing and consuming patterns herein out.

In hoping to promote the work of MSMEs and, thus, the advancement of society, we can advocate for balances as the fourth industrial revolution takes life in the new ways that technology interacts with the human body. As this convergence takes place across biological and physical worlds, the working relationships between employees and their employers will most certainly change. Therefore with this paradigm shift, the use of artificial intelligence will potentially eliminate a significant portion of jobs that are currently occupied by humans. Understanding that this shift will completely change the future of work, we must seek equilibrium, meaning that the advent of technology will allow those with creative ideas, people who are not localized to race, class, gender, religion, or region, to restructure the way that people have engaged in work and employment. In this way, we can recenter solving society’s most intractable challenges, while working in tandem with the goals established by the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainability.

Looking to future transitions, our new normal includes the rise to the entrepreneurial city. This global movement, which began in the mid-1990s, spread venture capitalism across the borders of its original home, the United States, and has led to a dramatic rise in global start-up and venture capital activity. If the most innovative and entrepreneurial talents can view their workspace, unconstrained by borders, then America does not have to stand as the only destination for entrepreneurs. This will allow cities to diversify by attracting talent and understanding that capital will follow.

Lastly, it is essential to realize that even before COVID-19, there was a trend to dismantle the status quo. The global pandemic has only enforced this end of normalcy. The current status quo is vulnerable, broken, and unable to provide both strong and weak economies the solutions they need to find profit in their present and future. We can not only think about ways in which disruption and co-working spaces are affecting the economy but instead, we must go further to address human progress and identity. We are currently caught in a battle for acceptance and belonging in this ever-changing society. Let this fight end in peace, the peace necessary for progression and innovation that will allow us to begin building an equitable world.

Helping Small Businesses Change the World

Helping Small Businesses Change the World

Small Businesses are Powerful Agents in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

When transitioning from a moment of crisis to a fundamentally new normal, further reflection is required of us. We must ask ourselves not only how our decisions and action will affect this moment in time, but also we must ask how we foresee a future for all. It is only through this type of reflection that we can genuinely and optimally create a present that is informed and encouraged by our reimagined future. The Sustainable Development Goals are the only apparent solution that focuses on the inclusion of all people, independent of societal status or national identity.

 

Negotiated for over a year by working groups across the globe, these intentionally constructed goals provide the cornerstone needed to bring about a more equitable world for all. The SDGs search to eliminate and end all social, economic, and environmental abuses at play in our current system. The SDGs are purposefully designed to interrelate with each other, meaning if a group or business decides to focus on three of these goals, they will end up working on all of them. As micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) represent about 70 percent of the formal economy and about 90 percent of the total employment in the developing world; it seems as though MSMEs are the perfect sector to begin working to create and disseminate newly created systems that aid the local community while working from a global perspective. In this moment of COVID-19, people’s financial, social, and humanitarian needs are amplified like never before. Industry, as it has for much of human history, creates the channels and timing of our lives and, therefore, holds impeccable power. We can use entrepreneurship and MSMEs to create jobs and promote markets in the world. The developing world is an enormous market to be engaged in. In contrast, the developed world has room for MSMEs working to create humanitarian- and environmentally-focused markets to allow for sustainable growth.

In this unique moment, groups like the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) can work to unshackle the traditional constraints on MSMEs. Those include limited access to information, to strategic resources, adequate financing, to scaling solutions, to reliable electricity, in addition to favorable business environments, to competitiveness, to market concentration, and online trade readiness. By viewing MSMEs and the SDGs together in a transformative light, we can devise solutions focused on growing prosperity with and for everyone, while working effectively at our available, finite resources. As much of the world still live without access to essential drinking water, to food, or proper healthcare, there is a big market for finding sustainable solutions to solve the world’s most pressing and vital issues.

Organizations centered around promoting the work of MSMEs are empowering business owners to provide services and necessary access to the SDGs. The UN Global Compact saw an incredible commitment to learning to implement sustainable principles by MSMEs around the world. However, the next step for these organizations would be to generate information that can be understood, and that is relevant for all MSMEs. The G20 is putting forward 5 trillion dollars, and it is of the utmost importance that this money is dispersed appropriately amongst MSMEs, specifically those owned by women. If done correctly, this financial assistance can work to rebalance the current imbalances in industrial realms. In addition to financial aid, hopefully, we can bring attention to raising awareness of MSMEs and their ability to reach SDG opportunities by adapting the tools to their needs and then follow by supporting innovation and incubators with the deployment of the solutions that MSMEs can create, which will eventually accelerate the new sustainable ecosystem imagined. It is from this work that we can focus on pre-emptive processes to create insurance funding for MSMEs after future economic and natural disasters. This fund will promote the wellbeing of all, by supporting the MSMEs that uphold our communities and nations.

It is only through transparent and dedicated partnerships that this work will be achieved successfully. UNCTAD works to amplify consensus building, research and analysis, and technical assistance of MSMEs. By creating open forums with the UN Member States, they can create entrepreneurship policy frameworks, resolutions, and promotion and market access for entrepreneurs. In working with partner organizations, like the ICSB, they can continue to publish researched reports on the current states of trade and development, world investment, and technology, and innovation to find effective policies. These studies also help determine the best technical assistance for MSMEs’ entrepreneurs to achieve structural transformation.

In their concluding discussion, Dr. Alex DeNoble, from San Diego State University and the ICSB, and Dr. Chantal-Line Carpentier, Chief of Office of the Secretary-General UNCTAD, pushed each other to develop their collective understanding as to where universities can best situate themselves as educators and creators of future entrepreneurs, while also promoting the research and educational exchanges possible within and throughout their global communities. These possible exchanges hold the potential to release incredible theories and practices of innovation and purpose put forth by future and current MSME owners. The future is of a sustainable essence, one that is created with and for all. The most encouraging way for us to imagine our best possible future is through the eyes of MSME entrepreneurs around the world. Let us hear them and let us work with them and for them.

 Written by: Dr. Ayman El Tarabishy