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National Small Business Week in the U.S.

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Friday, May 20, 2011
Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guy PfeffermannNational Small Business Week: "Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has proclaimed National Small Business Week to recognize the contributions of small businesses to the economic well-being of America. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes this special impact made by outstanding entrepreneurs and small business owners. In 2011, National Small Business Week will honor the estimated 27.2 million small businesses in America. Small businesses are major contributors to the strength of the American economy. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business. They also create 60-80 percent of new jobs in the country. Small businesses drive innovation, create 21st century jobs and increase U.S. competitiveness.

What is important in the United States is absolutely critical in developing countries. Typically, the governments of these countries lack the fiscal resources to create much if any additional public employment. Some existing corporations are expanding their workforce, but the vast majority of new jobs are created in young, small, businesses ranging from informal to high-tech start-ups. Encouraging such businesses is far and away the most effective way for governments and private agencies to stem unemployment, in particular youth unemployment (and even more so unemployment among young women). The spark that ignited Tunisia’s "Jasmine Revolution” was an unemployed young man who was forcibly kept by government from earning a few dollars selling fruit and vegetables. As you know, he set himself alight, and his tragic death became iconic.

How can small-scale entrepreneurship be encouraged? As the Tunisian drama shows so clearly, corruption and other institutional barriers to "doing business” thwart job-creation. Monopolistic practices, very common, especially in smaller developing countries, also undermine the entrepreneurial spirit. But even if all these obstacles were removed magically, this would only improve the "demand for entrepreneurship. Whether or not potential entrepreneurs respond to an improved business environment depend a lot on the state of management education. Without basic business know-how, the "supply response” will be weak or non-existing.

Unfortunately, basic business education has been neglected. Most local business schools disseminate irrelevant knowledge or only cater to the most affluent students. By attacking this glaring deficiency, corporations, aid agencies and philanthropists can have a major economic, social and political development impact.

A survey of alumni of an entrepreneurship center in Lagos, Nigeria, shows that they created many more jobs after graduating than small-scale entrepreneurs who hadn’t taken a basic business course.

Teaching entrepreneurship is not rocket science. It just doesn’t fit easily into traditional education systems. Scalable models exist in industrial as well as in developing countries. All that is lacking in order to adapt and disseminate entrepreneurship education across the developing world is awareness of the need, and fairly modest resources.

The Global Business School Network is proud to have contributed to creating and upgrading entrepreneurship programs in many developing countries. We will be thrilled to harness the Network’s enormous knowledge in order to support capacity-building for entrepreneurship education in developing countries.



Guy Pfeffermann is the founder and CEO of the Global Business School Network.

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