Taking a look at some of my past articles on this site, I am struck by how much has changed and how much has stayed the same: the importance of entrepreneurship, the impact small businesses can have on nationwide job creation and the slow but steady economic recovery in the U.S.
Today, I want to come back to entrepreneurship and small business growth.
Last week, the NYSE Big StartUp was announced and, through this initiative, three nonprofit partners are collectively forming an eco-system to support small business growth and job creation: Accion, Start-Up America and Entrepreneurs' Organization.
The theme: it's time for big business to help small businesses generate jobs. Through a fund called the Accion-NYSE Job Growth Fund, corporate donations can be transformed into business loans. In addition, those who have an idea strong enough to start a business and those whose businesses are poised to make a significant leap forward will find events, networking opportunities and mentorship to help them succeed, along with a platform for businesses both large and small to provide opportunities to volunteer, offer in kind services and join hands.
Why are we still talking about small businesses? Of the 27.8 million businesses in the U.S., 91 percent have fewer than five employees. These businesses have been the largest net contributor of new jobs to the U.S. economy in the past 15 years and collectively employ 50 percent of all private sector employees. Unfortunately, small business job growth was essentially flat in 2011. The demand for loan capital for small businesses is at an all-time high but access to credit remains seriously challenged, particularly for businesses of this size.
Now is precisely the time for us to accelerate our pace of job creation through more action. And we must focus on the smallest of businesses to make the largest impact. Microenterprise is key to generating employment opportunity for hundreds of thousands across the United States, and providing access to capital and key technical support to these entrepreneurs is vital to economic recovery.
Partnering with leading companies and identifying unique and powerful ways to impact change can be a dynamic path for a sustainable impact -- both across the country and directly on the local level. There are roles we can all play in this effort and we must leverage our collective expertise to be efficient, innovative and successful in creating the right partnerships around the country.
As the Big StartUp starts up, we can move words to action and support small businesses as they seek to grow with capital and meaningful networking and learning opportunities.