Small and Medium-Sized Companies in the Focus of Exporting News

Small and medium-sized exporting companies had several reasons for good spirit in the last couple of weeks – especially Trans-Pacific Partnership and Export-Import Bank supporters.

The final agreement on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) got a substantial coverage across the news, as it is the largest regional trade accord in history. As covered a few weeks ago, it encompasses USA together with 11 Pacific Rim nations and addresses many complex issues – from reducing tariffs and quotas, to imposing rigorous environmental, labor and intellectual property standards on partners, easing cross-border data flows, establishing an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, to free trade in services, and imposing competitive neutrality on state-operated businesses.

There is one particularly important area, which deserves a separate attention – focus of TPP on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Last week, National Small Business Association hosted a webinar where Andrew Quin, Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, among other described new chapter of the TPP deal focused on SMEs. The chapter aims to tide together all different elements that benefit SMEs and he highlighted 2 major areas:

  1. Creation of dedicated website for SME exporters by every member country. The websites should pull out all provisions which are particularly relevant to SMEs such as customs, taxation or intellectual property protection topics to make it better understandable and easier to follow in day-to-day exporting trade deals.
  1. Creation of SME committee to continue consultations with SMEs and collect feedback on what works, if benefits are being generated, and on how to continue maximizing benefits to SMEs. The committee will consist of government representatives, however promises to take inputs from SMEs on private sector provisions.

All of the above claims to suggest that TPP is more beneficial to SMEs than any previous trade agreement. Mr. Quin also reassured that TPP will not have any impact on Minority-Owned Small Businesses set aside programs (including the one WOSB program for women).

Another topic that came out after few weeks is the reauthorization of Export-Import Bank (EXIM). As Mr. Quin stated, it is a separate initiative but important piece to allow a full benefit of TPP. EXIM is providing loans, guarantees, and insurance to U.S. exporters and has made SMEs exports the top category supported last year (source) when $10.7 billion of total $27.5 billion worth of U.S. exports went to U.S. small businesses.

EXIM

Many SMEs publicly supported EXIM reauthorization, and they all have now a hope that it might be successful after all. A rare procedural move brought EXIM to the House floor and got a surprising support in the 313-118 vote to renew, including from 127 Republicans.

However, now the supporters will have to secure passage in the Senate but they seem to have a chance through its attachment to another vehicle, such as legislation to renew highway funding (source).

Overall, current news seem to suggest that it is a good time to be an exporter and according to the latest annual report Profile of U.S. Importing and Exporting Companies released by Census Bureau, many SMEs have already realized that as they accounted for 98 percent of the number of U.S. exporters in 2013 and $471 billion in known value of goods exports.

Want Global Economic Growth? Hire a Woman

By Jennifer Bisceglie, WIPP Board Member & WIPP International President

According to the World Bank, the past four years have seen tepid economic growth, with global GDP growing at under 3% annually. While 2.5% growth is far better than the rate of -2.1% that was seen at the low point of the 2009 recession, it doesn’t begin to meet the rates of over 4% that was seen during the mid 1990s and 2000s. Economists have been saying for some time that we are looking at the new economic “normal”. But does that have to be the last word?

IMG_6573[1]Few weeks ago I traveled to São Paulo, Brazil and Ankara, Turkey where I had the opportunity to represent WIPP and WIPP International and our members in critical discussions about global economic development. At both events, leaders from governments, NGOs and the business world took the stage to reiterate the need for gender inclusive growth policies.

In São Paulo, the International Trade Center’s (ITC) Women and Trade Programme hosted the annual Women Vendors Exhibition and Forum (WVEF), which seeks to increase the participation of women owned businesses in global supply chains. According to the ITC, women globally own almost 10 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which account for almost 80% of jobs around the world. It is well known that supporting an environment that encourages entrepreneurship spurs job growth.

At the event, ITC Executive Director Arancha González called on world leaders, governments, and the business community to develop economic and procurement policies that will create one million more women entrepreneurs by 2020. The call to action will impact local and global markets by stimulating job creation at record levels.

In Ankara, the G20 launched the Women-20 (W20), an engagement group focused on promoting gender-inclusive economic growth. The group’s mandate is to advance recent G20 commitments on: women’s full economic and social participation (Los Cabos Leaders’ Declaration, 2012); women’s financial inclusion and education (St Petersburg Leaders’ Declaration, 2013); and gap reduction in participation rates between men and women in G20 countries by 25 percent by 2025, taking into account national circumstances (Brisbane Leaders’ Declaration, 2014).

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made an impassioned speech about the potential of the W20 to positively impact the global economy. Today, in the G20, male economic participation is 86%, but only 56% for women. He added that for every 1% rise in female participation, it is estimated the global economy will grow an additional $80 billion and a 10% rise would increase the global GDP by an amount equivalent to Turkey’s annual GDP today.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde highlighted that data compiled by the World Bank indicates 90% of countries still have laws that discriminate against women. She admitted that the IMF in the past has not had a strong focus on women, but the impact to women and the potential of women in the economy is now considered in every IMF country visit. She added that words are important, but to echo Prime Minister Davutoğlu, it is what gets implemented and the outcomes that are achieved, which really matter.

The important takeaway from these meetings is not that gender inclusive growth policies are the moral or right thing to do, but that they are the smart economic thing to do. Increasing women’s participation in the global economy has the potential to add to the global GDP the economic equivalent of a new China or India. In a time when no one is quite happy with the “new normal” economy, isn’t this the smart thing to do for everyone, both men and women?

The Lack of Mentorship for Working Women

Mentor

by Annie Wilson, Intern

In today’s modern business world, it is widely accepted that mentorship relationships can be beneficial, especially in the context of career mobility. Young professionals can benefit from mentorship as a way to elevate their career status and attain high level positions in their company or obtain a second opinion for their career strategy. For entrepreneurs, mentorship can help a company thrive immensely by just having the benefit of vetted experience and advice that a mentor can provide. This advising can be crucial in the startup phase of a business as mentorship advice is an incredible asset to tap into in the preliminary stages of business development. With more and more startups and entrepreneurial activity in today’s modern world, mentorship is as crucial as ever for eager young business owners who are looking to start their own business.

However, historically it has been more difficult for women to have accessibility to mentors as opposed to men and this trend has been made clear in a number of ways. Peggy Drexler, a gender and business blogger for Forbes, outlines the current state of female mentorship in her recent article, “Can Women Succeed Without a Mentor?” In her findings, she reports that according to a 2011 McKinsey Report 53% of entry level positions are occupied by female employees but, as the jobs increase in caliber, female representation starkly declines at 37% for mid manager positions and 26% for vice president positions and above. This decline leaves a disproportional ratio of potential mentors to mentees and purports that with fewer women occupying higher level positions, there are fewer women eligible to mentor. Another factor in female mentorship is that women often feel as though they cannot allocate the appropriate time and effort to mentor somebody due to familial time constraints. In fact, a study from the American Psychological Association reported that the female figure that young women wanted to emulate the most were working executives who balanced their professional and family lives. However, this was the group that had the least time to mentor. An additional explanation to the lack of female to female mentorship sources from the problem that mentorship benefits are not being made readily apparent to mentee candidates. According to networking organization Levo League, 95% of millennials have never sought out a mentor. Perhaps this trend stems from the generational attitude towards self-sustainability in the workplace that is commonly associated with the millennial generation or that workplace environments are not making an effort to forge these relationships. According to the 2010-2011 World Economic Forum Report assessing gender diversity in 20 countries, only 59% of companies said they led internal mentoring programs and only 28% of companies had programs specific for women. Even if one of these factors holds truth in a working environment, female mentorship can clearly be difficult to obtain.

A mentor-mentee relationship can be a mutually beneficial for both participants. Mentees gain the benefit of learning from the mentor’s own processes in their early stages and the lessons and learning opportunities can be extremely impactful for a developing young professional. However, the mentor benefits in a very clear way as well. Mentors are often forced to change their way of managing and teaching to best communicate with their mentee, especially if there is a generational difference. The mentor may become more confident and efficient in working with younger professionals in general and their management skills as an aging professional are given an added dimension of flexibility. Not to mention, working with a mentee opens up a whole new professional network that a mentor can have better access to. Many mentors also see mentorship as a way to give back to the industry they invested their career in and as a way to perpetuate their work ethic and methods into the generations to come.

Barbara Corcoran, co-founder of Corcoran Venture Partners and investor on the hit show Shark Tank, reveals 3 traits to look out for when finding a mentor:

  1. “Choose a mentor you want to be like, not just someone you like. When you choose a mentor, pick someone you wish to emulate. It’s their “know-how” you wish to learn, and you learn more when you respect who’s teaching.
  2. Look for a mentor who is brutally honest. Compliments are always nice, but they won’t propel you to greatness. You need a mentor who won’t hesitate to give you difficult feedback—someone quick to call out your strengths andyour weaknesses.”
  3. Choose a mentor who has also failed. I fail often and fail well, and I’ve learned how to sniff out great success in the midst of failure. Sharing that belief can keep your company bold and motivated and miles ahead of everyone else afraid of failing.”

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor or finding one, ask around in your work environment to see if there are any ongoing programs that your company offers. If not, check out this great article giving advice on how to find a mentor or these mentorship organizations:

Meet the World’s Youngest Self-Made Female Billionaire: Elizabeth Holmes.

by Annie Wilson, InternEH

According to Forbes, Elizabeth Holmes has been named the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire with a net worth of $4.5 billion. Earlier this month she was named as Time Magazine’s List of 100 most influential people. Her billion dollar idea?: a revolutionary way to make blood testing accessible for anybody. Holmes’ company, Theranos, created a system that brings together a minimally invasive and needle free method of blood withdrawal with hundreds of low cost tests that almost anyone could afford. Holmes’ intention is to restructure our healthcare system to be more preventative as opposed to a reactive:

“The current health care paradigm is one in which diagnosis often takes place after symptoms are already present, and diseases have begun to progress. We’re committed to changing that. We’re pioneering a new paradigm in which lab testing is accessible and affordable for everyone. When cost is no longer a consideration and people no longer have to be symptomatic in order to get a test. Meaning your patients can get the tests they need, and you can get the information you need, early and in time for therapy to be effective.” – Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos website

Holmes attended Stanford University but dropped out at the age of 19 to start Theranos in 2003. Since then, Holmes has impressed investors with the potential commercial, military, and humanitarian applications of her idea. Holmes has also acquired a very impressive board of directors, including former cabinet secretaries George Shultz, Bill Perry and Henry Kissinger, two former Senators, a retired CentCom commander, a retired Navy admiral and a former director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. She has rapidly developed her company since 2003 and has notably partnered with Walgreens to build thousands of Wellness Centers for Theranos to carry out its testing. To date, Theranos has also accumulated $92 million in venture capital funding from investors like Larry Ellison and Draper Fisher Jurvetson with her first venture capital funding worth $5.8 million in 2005 at the age of 21. Holmes owns 84 patents to her name and Theranos is estimated to be worth $9 billion with Holmes owning half of its stock.

If you want to learn more about Elizabeth Holmes:

  • Click here for a video about how she came up with her business idea.
  • Click here for a timeline of Theranos’ conception
  • Click here to watch a TED Talk given by Holmes about the importance of early detection

3 Undeniable Business Trends You Need to Embrace

technologyAdaptability is the key ingredient of success for those looking to accomplish great things in today’s business climate.   This is one of the key business trends highlighted by Huffington Post’s blogger, Doug G. Sandler in his ARTICLE : 3 Undeniable Business Trends You Need To Embrace. We live in a business world that is moving faster than it ever has and adaptability seems to be the only acceptable policy for an entrepreneur, even though for many it will mean changing the status quo of how you operate, and for others – the newbie business owners – time and resources will need to be spent creating and improving their networks and key resources. Either case, you should embrace these three trends to make your own way towards success.

  1. The Internet is here to stay! The most successful businesses of tomorrow will be able to master technology but still provide a human touch as well.
  2. Content is king.  Blogging, writing and sharing content with existing customers and potential customers is vital. Be an expert in your industry, stay connected to your market and provide content that is relevant, interesting and easy to read.
  3. Adapt or perish. You cannot ignore business trends or your business will be left behind.

Read more here.