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In today’s increasingly connected world, opportunities for small businesses to develop and grow are not only increasing, but also are a vital component of the economic development of a region. The goal of the Small Business Development track is to identify tangible ways to facilitate business creation and growth. Panelists will discuss ways to make financing more available for small businesses, minimize the regulatory obstacles involved in starting and operating a business, and encourage a regional spirit of entrepreneurialism. Addressing these topics is critical to providing the environment and tools for business to become more competitive in the global economy.

Panel Title: Financing: The Lifeblood of Small Business

Most developing countries report a critical shortage in financing for small enterprises. While small businesses comprise a large portion of all businesses and economic activity in a country, they receive a very small percentage of credit. Some banks and financing institutions have recognized the important client base that small businesses represent and are increasingly devising methods to better evaluate and mitigate the credit risks to make financing more available.

Panel Title: Shaping the Business Environment Through Innovative Policies

Reforms at the legal and regulatory level are critical aspects of business development and economic growth. These reforms decrease bureaucratic red tape, create opportunities for more citizens to participate in the formal sector, make an economy more competitive, and stimulate economic growth. Reforms can make it easier not only to start businesses, but for businesses to create more jobs. Discussion will include success stories of how groups have leveraged government institutions to reform and created incentives that encourage business growth.

Panel Title: Energizing the Entrepreneurial Environment in your Country

Entrepreneurship is a key driver of every economy. Small businesses, created by entrepreneurial individuals, are responsible for generating the majority of jobs and wealth in Western Hemisphere. Cultivating a robust entrepreneurial culture can maximize individual and collective economic growth locally, nationally, and regionally. This panel will explore how to develop and nurture an environment conducive to entrepreneurship. Key topics will include angel networks, clustering, public-private partnerships, and business linkages.