In a fully connected world, what does knowledge mean? The global public has access to seemingly all the information that one might desire to know. In a matter of a couple of seconds, a question, thought, or idea can take life and become real and concrete thanks to the technological era’s increased availability of information.
However, despite these possibilities, understanding and information are somehow disconnected from each other. There seems to be only a select few who can decipher data in a way that presents that data to the general public.
Yet still, that translation often does not reach the general public or even the practitioners and professionals that might use it. So, we might take a few steps back and ask ourselves, first, what is knowledge?
Knowledge is the absolute, indisputable truth that is often provided in the form of information or indicated intuitively. Knowledge is grander than memorisation or recollection because it involves a processing phase, one in which an individual or group absorbs specific information in a manner that allows them to understand or learn such information.
Upon defining the concept of knowledge. We might return to our first question and ask, “What does knowledge mean?” and further, “What does knowledge mean in an everchanging world?” An ageless discussion, knowledge is sometimes pursued as an individual understanding in and of itself, yet more often, knowledge is sought as a means to an end.
As a vessel of transportation, knowledge is often necessitated throughout and within the search for solutions. However, in a world where problems are vast and solutions sporadic, a conversation on the obtention and usage of knowledge might be necessary.
Knowledge is absolute; yet, the vast connectedness of our world often makes it difficult to transmit this importance. Our system demands some sort of network for the spread and sharing of knowledge so that our interconnectedness and subsequent delivery of knowledge will not be corrupted by political sway nor by personal beliefs. The world has a great need for reliable data and clear information so that we can create solutions. This need will not be met in a singular location nor come from an exclusive mindset.
Aside from researchers, most lay folks receive their information from the media. An often skewed and relative structure, media does not usually challenge its engagers to discuss nor evaluate the information presented. This seems to be another significant missing step in the process of obtaining information and drawing the knowledge from that information.
Therefore, there must be a more substantial network that allows individuals, or better pre-existing organisations, who wish to seek and assist in the dissemination of knowledge, to connect with and be supported by each other.
The International Council for Small Business launches a knowledge network!
It was off of this basis that the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) from the idea of the immediate past president, Ahmed Osman, launched its Knowledge Hubs, or KHubs, network. Operating in collaboration, these KHubs work to promote entrepreneurial knowledge missions across the globe. With ICSB functioning as the platform of these centres (KHubs), they will work to connect and uplift the voices of those who seek real and applicable knowledge.
The KHub structure works similarly to a membership role in that organisations from around the world subscribe to ICSB in the form of KHub members and are thereby given the benefits of individual members and receive support as an organisation at large.
This bolstering relationship not only connects KHubs to other ICSB members and organisations; however, it also provides the KHubs with a platform from which to operate and with support from the ICSB senior leadership.
Therefore, organisations that are interested in encouraging a culture of entrepreneurship and the stimulation of small businesses are now capable of developing their organisation and their reach even further. Portrayed in the form of monthly access to collaborative mentoring, ICSB leadership helps and supports KHubs, provides critical reviews of how an organisation can advance in its vision, and better supports their organisation’s participants.
This concept portrays the ideals of frugal innovation, which look at a solution as the product of creatively captivating and utilising pre-existing resources. Frugal innovation is not just a method, nor a set of principles, but more so a metaparadigm, which is an entirely new way of thinking about innovation and value creation.
As its main point looks to “do better with less”, frugal innovation guides one towards two essential truths: it is necessary to focus on creating more value and to minimise scarce resources while maximising intangible ones.
Our question, then, develops to how can we optimise the delivery of value, while using all the available tangible and intangible resources?
There are six fundamental principles of frugal innovation. Those being to engage and iterate, to flex your existing resources, to co-create regenerative solutions, to shape customer behaviour, to co-create value with ‘prosumers’, and to hyper-collaborate with atypical partners. In recognising these strategies, we can more definitively comprehend the importance of value-based businesses in the realm of SMEs.
If KHubs are the solution to connecting individuals and organisations to real knowledge, then the International Council for Small Business has well used the principles of frugal innovation to work to fill the void in the entrepreneurial understanding of knowledge
To what end? KHubs to promote micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises
The structure and network of KHubs seem to be a robust solution, yet if and only if the hubs are connected through a common purpose. Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are determined to be the most important economic and social units operating throughout the world.
Therefore, ICSB’s KHubs are correctly connected around the focus of uplifting MSMEs. These smaller units require support. This can not only come in the form of passive stimulus packages and good intentions.
MSMEs deserve a seat at the table, an opening address, and their share of power in decision-making processes. For that reason, specifically, the United Nations MSME Day was created and 27 June was set out to be a day to celebrate and honour the successes of MSMEs around the world. They are the enterprises that employ, care for, and support the greater public all year round. They deserve more than one day, yet from MSME Day and with mutual support, a great deal of attention can be generated for MSMEs.
In light of the challenges faced by MSMEs worldwide and conjoined with the global pandemic, one can observe the need for inter- and intra-relationship between organisations pursuing the ideals of entrepreneurship. Following the most recent MSME Day celebration (2020), the UN summarised:
“The economic recession, originating from the COVID-19 pandemic, has taken a heavy toll on MSMEs, including closures, cash flow pressure, erosion of working capital, interrupting supply chains, loss of production, incomes, and customers. The pandemic exposed and deepened pre-crisis fragilities in the MSME sector. However, it also underscored the need for a coherent and holistic policy response to build a resilient MSME sector. It also provided an unprecedented opportunity to emerge with a better set of policies and measures for MSME promotion than those which existed before the pandemic.”
In this time of crisis, the most critical solution will be found when we can move away from a place of fear, which clouds our ability to see from other perspectives and shift to a place of calmness and diversity.
By networking around knowledge, we will be able to see more clearly the answers found within and in front of us. Reaching out to those who are different from us during moments of panic, can bring us new and creative perspectives, which will break our own routine mistakes. Being aware of our inherent need to do something familiar can signal us that this is a moment to try something radically different.
On the other side of stress and fear, we can find ourselves in a place to be entirely open to anything and everything at the moment. The goal is to stop thinking about after COVID and think about right now. It is time to begin developing frugally, and maybe later, we will be able to bolden the frugal strategy made possible only by this crisis.
KHubs provide ICSB and other organisations with similar missions a solution to the world’s typical fragmentation and cohesiveness. In the desire to bolster the work of MSMEs, we notice a missing piece, which is replaced by the network forged by the ICSB KHubs. A better future based on solutions through interconnected pathways of knowledge awaits us, are you ready to join?
Dr Ayman El Tarabishy president and CEO, ICSB