Small Business Saturday is here again, and it offers us an opportunity to reflect on why small businesses matter. As people across the United States head out this Saturday to support small businesses in their local communities, we wanted to highlight some ways small businesses are making a real impact around the world.
Small businesses are leading the way in innovating how business is conducted, but it's important to recognize that small businesses are capable of so much more. In celebrating small businesses, we are also celebrating all of the people and communities small businesses represent and serve, especially those businesses owned by women.
Small businesses are the standard-bearers of the American entrepreneurial spirit, but their impact goes well beyond their products and services. Around the globe, small and medium enterprises (SME) are driving opportunities for innovation and invention, while leading efforts that turn raw inspiration into the technologies and ideas that change how we all live our lives.
Small businesses are now accessing communities in off-the-grid locations, while also ensuring workers in urban centers have the skills they need to be competitive in the new economy. These entrepreneurs are ultimately leading the way in creating new business models that fundamentally change economies.
Women-owned small business in particular have the potential to be the biggest drivers of a global economic evolution that can drastically improve our shared wellbeing; and when we celebrate small businesses, we are also celebrating all of the people and communities small businesses represent and serve. But, in order for small business -- these engines of innovation -- to reach their full economic potential, we must recognize that women small business owners face a range of barriers and obstacles that limit our shared progress. Women-owned businesses, for example, are vastly underrepresented in global supply chains, and although many governments have made commitments to address this gender gap, a great deal of work remains. Nonetheless, finding solutions to these and other challenges to women-owned small businesses requires much more than government intervention alone.
Identifying solutions that will maximize the potential for women entrepreneurs is major reason why, just a few days after Small Business Saturday, the United States and the Republic of India will host the Eighth Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad, India, starting November 28, 2017. Focusing on the theme Women First Prosperity For All, this year’s summit will bring together some of the most high impact female small business owners, with investors, non-government organizations, and policy- makers, to address these challenges.
At this year’s summit, women will represent 52.5 percent of entrepreneurs, investors, and ecosystem supporters. This is the first time that women have been the majority of participants at a Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which is critical as summit participants will focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and fostering economic growth globally.
Successful entrepreneurs and small business owners hold the promises of opportunity, prosperity, and security, because the organizations they are a part of empower individuals to improve their lives and drive innovation and economic security to communities around the globe. However, the full potential of small business owners can only be reached if we work together to support our communities, and to ensure women-owned small businesses reach their full potential as well, to achieve prosperity for all.
About the Author: Jamal Jones is a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs' Global Entrepreneurship Program Office (GEP).
To learn more about the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and domestic and international events leading up to the Summit please visit www.GES2017.org and follow #GES2017 on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.