written by Olena Yatskivska, Spring 2019 PFP Fellow from Ukraine
For more than 50 years, the President of the United States issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, which recognizes the critical contributions of entrepreneurs and small business owners to the strength of the American economy.
For District of Columbia it is one of the most important event. In Washington DC, small business represent 92.3 percent of all employers and employ 46.9 percent of the private-sector labor force. Small business – big impact.
During first weeks of my fellowship with DC Chamber of Commerce I had an apt opportunity to explore Small Business Week from inside. DC Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization that addresses the needs of all businesses in the District of Columbia. DC Chamber provides invaluable tools to help businesses develop, and it leverages relationships with key contacts in the DC Council and the Federal government to improve the business climate and attract new businesses to the District. The DC Chamber organizes numerous major events that provide a rare opportunity for companies to engage with business leaders, key policymakers to develop own business and to harmonize relationships.
The first event I attended was 4th Annual PowerUp DC, A National Small Business Week Forum at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade center, May 7, 2019. Together with my supervisor we hosted our expo table. I took part in the workshop “Moving in the right direction: how to start your business” and after we had a lunch with business panels and the speed business coaching. All workshops usually hold Q&A session for business representatives organized by moderator. As a result you receive a firsthand information, create a trust to business and connect with consumers. I was impressed by professionalism and the ways how they build networks. In the evening DC Chamber organized National Small Business Week Kick-Off Reception at Tony&Joes Seafood place. It’s like a corporative event or exclusive business networking to engage new business members and build relationships in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
On Thursday, May 9, 2019, I presented a presentation about Ukraine and my native town Radomyshl to all staff of DC Chamber. The main purpose of my presentation was to tell more about advantages and positive changes in the Ukraine, to show that we are thankful for ongoing American support (according to official information of Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Ukraine the major donor in 2018 for Ukraine was the USA – more than 2 billion dollars (124 projects)) and we are open to communication and cooperation (ongoing decentralization reform makes Ukraine more democratic, transparent, and development).
What is more I’m proud of is that I helped to prepare for a big event – 2019 DC Chamber Small Business and Economic Development Summit (May 10, 2019). To be exact I was responsible for organizing workshop Access to Capital (email and phone communication with 10 banks). In total we organized 6 different interesting workshops. After plenary session and breakout workshops was held awards luncheon. Each year the DC Chamber of Commerce honors the success of small businesses who have contributed to the business and economic growth of community. This year the award categories were: Small Business of the Year, Small Business Person of the Year, Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Non-Profit Organization of the Year, Small Business Champion of the Year and Women in Business Champion of the Year. During lunch the President and Chief Executive Officer of the DC Chamber Vincent Orange introduced me to the audience, thanked for my work with helping to organize this event. This was unexpected. It was the most memorable moment. It is very important when your work is appreciated.
I’m very pleased to work with the DC Chamber of Commerce. They are doing a really good job. They are innovative, open minded, creative and very active. They gave me examples of how to cooperate and how to build networks of professionals.
I think the President and CEO of the DC Chamber of Commerce have organized the best in the culture of business and this gives an opportunity to me to disseminate knowledge on economic development, innovation, and small business. I will learn and will follow the style of the DC Chamber of Commerce.