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Human-Centered Entrepreneurship: 

Empowering MSMEs to Achieve the SDGs

To dissect the story of entrepreneurship is to describe a narrative of human history—our survival, humanity, and purpose. Small businesses today offer a unique perspective on this history. From the early days of civilization to our contemporary world, the role of the entrepreneur has remained constant. Profound contradictions define our world. Modern-day challenges are pervasive, from rising inflation and unstable access to finance to war and environmental destruction. Yet, opportunities abound. The United Nations underscores significant investments in sustainable development, emerging environmental preservation practices, and expanding international cooperation. Entrepreneurs are at the forefront, pursuing innovative solutions to address unmet needs and drive meaningful impact. Central to this movement is the concept of human-centered economics, championed by Richard Samans. The concept prioritizes people and the planet, emphasizing stakeholders’ well-being–including employees, customers, communities, and the environment. This approach enables businesses to create sustainable value beyond mere financial returns. From fair labor practices to sustainable supply chains, human-centered entrepreneurs demonstrate that profitability and social impact coexist harmoniously.

The role of entrepreneurship for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has arguably never been more critical. MSMEs form the backbone of our global and local economies, accounting for 90% of businesses, 60 to 70% of employment, and 50% of GDP worldwide. However, 9 their impact transcends economic gains. MSMEs are critical players in improving local infrastructure, advancing employees’ lives, reducing social inequity, providing opportunities to mentees, and protecting the environment. Research by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor indicates that women in low-income countries exhibit some of the highest entrepreneurial intention rates, noting the potential for diversity within entrepreneurial endeavors.

Entrepreneurship and MSMEs are vital to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs were meticulously designed to foster a more equitable world. Their interconnectedness means that progress on a few goals contributes to the achievement of all. Moving the needle towards achieving the SDGs requires a global effort, and MSMEs are uniquely positioned to implement and propagate new systems that benefit their local communities. June 27 was named “Micro-, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day” to legitimize their significant contributions in working towards SDG attainment. 2024 marks the 8th annual MSMEs Day, dedicated to recognizing the mutual dependence of MSMEs and the SDGs, honoring entrepreneurs with the theme “Human-Centered Impact: Advancing the UN SDGs through MSMEs.” This day provides a moment to reflect on the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead, underscoring MSMEs’ essential role in engaging in and further actualizing transformative movement for our global community.

Over the past eight years, the International Council for Small Business and our partners at the OECD have laid the foundation for this moment. Since establishing MSMEs Day in 2017, we have discussed topics on Entrepreneurship and Peace (2019), MSMEs as First Responders (2020), MSMEs for an Inclusive and Sustainable Recovery (2021), and Women and Youth Entrepreneurship (2023). Each theme explores a distinctive aspect of human-centered entrepreneurship.

Despite MSMEs’ impressive global and local supporter portfolio, significant challenges remain. As their primary supporters, we must plan for a future that places value on and creates a culture for human-centered business. In just two years, on June 27, 2027, we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of MSMEs Day. In preparation for this momentous celebration, we can redouble our efforts and ensure that we are creating an ecosystem that supports the growth and success of MSMEs. Supporters must stay committed to preparing a future where all entrepreneurs can access a fair business ecosystem. We speak now of MSMEs’ potential and their power to evoke change when provided the necessary support. Empowering MSMEs requires collective action involving governments, businesses, civil society, and international organizations. A disparate gap exists between our desire to support MSMEs and their needs for success. 

We cannot solely count on MSMEs to continue working towards the SDGs without supportive policies and guidelines for their growth. MSMEs need a framework anchored in a stable, consistent policy environment that promotes long-term sustainability and growth. Developing an entrepreneurial principles framework is a monumental endeavor.

Read more here: https://icsb.org/unmsmesdaymessage/

Article by:
Dr. Ayman ElTarabishy, President & CEO, ICSB

The post UNMSMEsDayMessage appeared first on ICSB | International Council for Small Business.

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