Collective Culture Born Out of Individual Isolation

After months of shelter-in-place orders as well as even more extended periods of social distancing, the rhetoric surrounding the next steps is widespread. However, the conversations reimagining what our new normal might resemble has transformed from sterile and secluded into collective and social. Potentially borne out of the human spirit’s contrarian nature or, instead, our perspective-shifting solitude, it seems that this natural revolution, or COVID-19, has engaged us in finally seeing the importance of togetherness.

The previous barriers that were so meticulously placed to keep thick walls between the “haves” and “have nots” have metaphorically fallen. With nature as our great equalizer, we are stuck in this natural disaster. However, we have a choice. Do we want to spend all of our resources on rebuilding those walls, making our societies at large vulnerable to future disasters, or can we take this moment and recognize that those barriers need not exist in our world nor our minds. It seems ridiculous that a global pandemic was necessary to shake us out of our hierarchical worldview and realize that this is the moment to break down and reset.

This crisis has wholly changed our ideal present, and its legacy will continue to seep into generational changes in the future. Generation Corona. A group of entrepreneurs who will never look at sanitary mishaps or the absence of safety funds the same way. The next generations of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) have been borne into a world in which expectations have no place. For those businesses that will live to see the other side of this pandemic as well as those that will launch following this intense and immediate form of social distancing, nothing currently exhibits normalcy, nor will it in the future.

In examining the 2020 world and future, we must release the mental hold on hazards and challenges, and look instead to growth and prosperity. MSMEs are recognized globally for their contributions to innovation and improvements in economic conditions. Last year, MSMEs most challenging challenge that inhibited their growth was lack of belief. The belief that a person can create something substantial and of importance to economic and social value must be deep to ensure real success. Entrepreneurship’s global trends have steered away from being solely a domain for the rich, well-connected, and gender-specific for years now, and this crisis will only push this trend forward more quickly. This global shock holds the potential to either promote the women, youth, families, and disabled who have transformed their communities and further societies or delay the necessary work of these underrepresented voices. Therefore, both entrepreneurs and their surrounding communities must work to foster the power of belief as a way to energize economies and improve economic situations. In continuing to actively encourage the creation and sustainability of MSMEs, not just the launch of a business, but also its maintenance of an adaptable and vibrant economic ecosystem, the results will involve meaningful impacts as all of us engage our power of belief in individual potential and the creation and sustainability of MSMEs.

The current pandemic has both halted and advanced much sustainable action. The global pause has led to an incredible lessening in atmospheric carbon. However, it has also exacerbated the current inequity and resulting symptoms of hunger, poverty, sexism, and ableism around the world. As MSMEs make up the very economic fabric of communities, reaching many sustainable development goals without even realizing it, they can be used as a measuring stick for progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. MSMEs sit in the unique and vulnerable position to both presents the solutions to the world’s most pressing issues, while also needing an incredible amount of resilience to be able to perform these necessary services. In our time of reflection at home, hopefully, we, as both entrepreneurs and customers, can realign with importance, to create more informed producing and consuming patterns herein out.

In hoping to promote the work of MSMEs and, thus, the advancement of society, we can advocate for balances as the fourth industrial revolution takes life in the new ways that technology interacts with the human body. As this convergence takes place across biological and physical worlds, the working relationships between employees and their employers will most certainly change. Therefore with this paradigm shift, the use of artificial intelligence will potentially eliminate a significant portion of jobs that are currently occupied by humans. Understanding that this shift will completely change the future of work, we must seek equilibrium, meaning that the advent of technology will allow those with creative ideas, people who are not localized to race, class, gender, religion, or region, to restructure the way that people have engaged in work and employment. In this way, we can recenter solving society’s most intractable challenges, while working in tandem with the goals established by the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainability.

Looking to future transitions, our new normal includes the rise to the entrepreneurial city. This global movement, which began in the mid-1990s, spread venture capitalism across the borders of its original home, the United States, and has led to a dramatic rise in global start-up and venture capital activity. If the most innovative and entrepreneurial talents can view their workspace, unconstrained by borders, then America does not have to stand as the only destination for entrepreneurs. This will allow cities to diversify by attracting talent and understanding that capital will follow.

Lastly, it is essential to realize that even before COVID-19, there was a trend to dismantle the status quo. The global pandemic has only enforced this end of normalcy. The current status quo is vulnerable, broken, and unable to provide both strong and weak economies the solutions they need to find profit in their present and future. We can not only think about ways in which disruption and co-working spaces are affecting the economy, but instead, we must go further to address human progress and identity. We are currently caught in a battle for acceptance and belonging in this ever-changing society. Let this fight end in peace, the peace necessary for progression and innovation that will allow us to begin building an equitable world.