London, December 2019. Universal Inclusion have organised an international panel discussion and a live Q&A with Inclusive Entrepreneurs and global thought-leaders, who presented evidence to support Universal Inclusion’s Call to Action to governments and policy makers in respect of business support requirements for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. The event, which took place during November 2019 - this year’s Global Entrepreneurship Month (GEW2019) - also introduced a digital platform showcasing businesses by inclusive entrepreneurs and providing a market place for their products and services.
Universal Inclusion is a UK-based global organisation leading the way in making the world a much more accessible place. Pioneers and leaders in this field, they have been working in Inclusive Entrepreneurship since 2009. The organisation is led by Jacqueline Winstanley FRSA, Founder and CEO, who also heads up the Inclusive Entrepreneurs Programme and Network, which supports the Inclusive Entrepreneur community with mentoring, coaching and now, access to a unique marketplace.
As host and executive producer, Jacqueline opened the discussion by setting the scene with an overview of the concept of Inclusive Entrepreneurship and its importance in achieving the 2030 Agenda, the Paradigm Shift and in evidencing the commitment to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She explained how Inclusive Entrepreneurship offers a real and sustainable alternative for people facing barriers to mainstream employment, “It is essential in creating an environment where people who face barriers to the work environment are no longer seen as tax/care burdens, but as active, participating citizens contributing to the economy. Inclusive Entrepreneurship is a global response to the changing face of the workplace, more so as economic growth continues to be from within the private, and particularly, the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) sectors.”
Inclusive Entrepreneurs face challenges beyond traditional aspects of entrepreneurship, in particular access to practical in-work support, finance and innovation strands. A general lack of understanding of how people with protected characteristics navigate their working lives leads to many challenges, as the genuine intent to improve matters conflicts with the administration of these same programs.
As Jacqueline continued, “The Inclusive Entrepreneur Network provides business support which incorporates the importance of managing health and wellbeing. It includes the option to undertake a 10-session programme that supports people considering entrepreneurship, or entrepreneurs facing challenges during their own particular journey. The community showcases the incredible aspiration and achievements of people who have faced significant barriers and I am delighted that we have now also introduced the digital marketplace for their businesses to grow and thrive. Our Inclusive Entrepreneurs do not talk of pity - they talk instead about increased levels of self-esteem, reduced isolation and a renewed sense of being part of and contributing to society through innovation.”
The event speakers were all challengers and leaders in their respective fields. Delegates were first addressed by the newly-appointed UN Global Goodwill Ambassador Carol Ann Whitehead FRSA, GGA (http://thezebrapartnership.eventbrite.com/ ) ; Helene Martin Gee, Pink Shoe Founder and President (https://pinkshoeclub.com), who spoke about Women in Enterprise, highlighting the need for a structured and aspirational approach to Inclusive Entrepreneurship; and Olivia Gallagher, T33 Wheelchair Racer and Ability Today Ambassador (https://twitter.com/olivia_t33) who gave an insight to entrepreneurship as a para-athlete, demonstrating the gender disparity within her class and reinforcing the importance of appropriate practical and financial support as an elite athlete.
Two panel discussions then further illustrated the journeys and achievements of Inclusive Entrepreneurs. The first panel included Grant Logan from Ability Today (https://abilitytoday.com), Ayesha Gavin from Ayesha Communications (www.ayeshacommunications.com), Stephen Hopwood from Swift and Sure (www.swiftandsuresct.co.uk), Lady Sharon Farley-Mason from Glamsticks (https://www.glamsticks.co.uk) and James Holt, Musician (https://twitter.com/jamesholtmusic). All highly talented and successful entrepreneurs, their inspiring journeys only served to reinforce the immense benefits to the economy and their personal health and well-being. This message was further amplified by Aaron Hornback of Horizon Health Network (https://horizonhealthnetwork.co.uk).
The second panel, with Carol Ann Whitehead, John Kiehl of SoundTrack Group (www.soundtrackgroup.com ) and Emanuel 'Manny' Perlman of Destination Peace (www.destinationpeace.org), discussed the conversations taking place at an international level, and their impact within the 2030 Agenda towards achieving the Paradigm Shift and the commitments towards the SDGs.
As Jacqueline concluded the proceedings, she stressed the importance for the Call to Action, “We have a blueprint for Inclusive Entrepreneurship that works and the evidence to demonstrate it. However, in order to upscale and extend its reach, we make the following recommendations to policy makers:
- Enable the Paradigm Shift in Government Policy
- Allow for early identification and implementation of support
- Provide direct access to personal advisors
- Provide training on management of support
- Ensure there is continued support for personal care
- Ensure the award contains support for compliance areas
- Allow easy access to mental health support and holistic therapies
- Ensure equity within access to finance
The Inclusive Entrepreneur Programme is an important part of Universal Inclusion’s mission to make entrepreneurship open and easily accessible to all. The Digital Platform will provide visibility to products and services by inclusive entrepreneurs and also demonstrate the importance of Inclusive Entrepreneurship in economic growth and social change.
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