Small businesses make up 99 percent of all U.S. businesses, but the pandemic has forced abouzt one-third of them to temporarily or permanently close. To stay afloat, many small businesses have had to find new ways to reach consumers across the globe. To discuss these issues, The Hill recently convened a virtual Small Business Summit, with a panel comprising policymakers, experts, members of Congress, and small business owners.
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) discussed the need for policymakers to consider the needs of small businesses given their role as the engine of the American economy. Meanwhile, Frank Lavin, CEO & Founder of Export Now, emphasized the importance of small businesses finding ways to reach consumers across the globe, including shifting from brick-and-mortar retail to increased online engagement.
“If you're making retail goods, such as apparel, food, baby gear, exercise equipment, you're very, very lucky,” said Lavin, “Because the appetite in China for those kinds of everyday consumer goods and premium goods from America is huge.”
During a panel on “Modern Small Business Ownership,” small business owners discussed topics including the importance of e-commerce and the pandemic’s effects on their business strategies. Emily’s Chocolates & Nuts President and CEO Amy Paulose talked about her business’ entry into the Chinese market and how companies like Alibaba can help.
“Platforms such as Alibaba help spearhead and walk you through that process,” said Paulose. “There's so much information and so much desire to try new things and American products, there's such an appreciation for the products that we are developing, and Chinese consumers are eager.”
At the Summit, veteran journalist Kathleen Koch also spoke with Alibaba Group’s President Michael Evans about the enormous opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses in the Chinese market.
“The middle class has been growing in China for the last 15 to 20 years, and the size of that middle-class today is larger than the entire U.S. population,” said Evans. “It’s a huge opportunity for American businesses because America produces some of the greatest products that are safe, reasonably priced, and constantly innovating. Chinese consumers love American products, whether they come from brands or small businesses that are just starting.”
Evans explained how Alibaba’s commerce infrastructure helps U.S. brands digitally upgrade their businesses so they can focus on product innovation and serving new consumers. By using Alibaba’s tools, U.S. companies sold more than $54 billion worth of goods to Chinese consumers through its platforms last year.
Watch the full interview here.