This column is sponsored by BizLaunch, a division of Arlington Economic Development.
By Tara Palacios
Georgia, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia, Georgia and Ukraine.
Since 2006, I volunteered and worked with leaders from former Soviet countries through the tremendous efforts of the Open World Leadership Center and the American Councils for International Education. Through the years we discussed best practices in local government and how to best design and encourage an entrepreneurial ecosystem even in the toughest of circumstances. My case studies came directly from the economic development work we do in Arlington.
Through my work over the years, I was completely honored to be invited recently to travel to Ukraine during Global Entrepreneurship Week to present at the America House through the US Embassy in Ukraine and the efforts of the State Department. This would be an amazing opportunity to directly interact with individuals representing universities, government entities, youth leaders and entrepreneurs.
I conducted 12 presentations in 8 days in the Capital City of Kyiv and the City of Lviv. With Ukraine being in the news every day, I was determined to make a positive impact through our exchange.
I had the pleasure of conducting a Facebook live event in Kyiv where we discussed the intricacies of starting a business and resources for small businesses and how to access information effectively. We also conducted two Starting a Business workshops at the America House.
After reflecting on my work and time in Ukraine I developed the following observations:
- Globally, small businesses face challenges with access to capital. Finding investors and successfully building cash resources to launch or grow your business is a tremendous hurdle for many entrepreneurs.
- Globally, the percentage of women starting businesses is growing at a fast pace.
- Entrepreneurship can be a lonely enterprise; however, there is strength and empowerment in reaching out for help and/or mentorship.
- Favorable policies and regulations are key to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Understanding how to navigate the intricacies of regulations are paramount to small businesses and if a jurisdiction can make the process simple and transparent it will encourage the successful growth of business.
- Creating programming that is reflective of the people who make up your community is key.
- Never give up hope.
Small business needs are global. If we design and develop specific programming to foster growth we build community, and through our efforts we will have a positive impact on future generations.