SMEs

More businesses are launching and growing than a year ago, partly because of the appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as president, says one expert.
In many ways the planning system has done a good job: trying to balance competing demands for scarce resources and mediating between economic forces and the views of local communities. And, over the years, it has proved remarkably resilient.
These kinds of new user interfaces are revolutionising the way we interact with technologies and services. But it is not just entertainment or home tasks which can benefit. What if we could also make mundane business matters, like payroll and bookkeeping, more efficient, too?
In the UK, we have largely built our towns and cities, so a better question might be: 'How could we enhance our cities by overlaying a digital layer?' This layer, spread over the physical, helps us to understand our cities better and create services that allow citizens to interact with the city - and each other - differently.
And when the exchange of lessons and findings from all the participating institutions are combined during the SEC2U week, support networks can be strengthened across Europe, enhancing the recognition of how universities, startups and local communities can work more closely together for the benefit of all.
Last month I became the Government's new Crown Representative for small and medium sized businesses. My role will be to work with government to help it achieve its target of £1 in every £3 being spent with small business by 2020.
Whilst volunteering with Challenges Worldwide in Zambia earlier this year, I was placed on a project with in-country volunteer Emmanuel, a recent graduate. Beyond being a great personality to be around, he had this strong hunger to learn and improve despite having little previous experience in business, particularly in a consultancy role.
The continued success of London's tech start-ups is a reminder of the importance of SMEs to the nation's economy and hopes for the future. Small businesses have the potential to become large businesses, and large businesses have the power to influence and inspire countless others.
The location with the highest density of online businesses - calculated on the volume of small online retail businesses operating in a region and their subsequent sales, as a proportion of the local population - is over 200 miles from London, up the M6 in Greater Manchester.
SMEs form the backbone of our economy, making up around 99% of Britain's private sector businesses in the UK, 48% of private sector employment and 33% of private sector turnover. Over 200,000 of these businesses in the UK sell through eBay; that's a great responsibility and one which is front of mind as we continue to grow as an online marketplace.