Last Tuesday was the first “B2B Tuesday,” an initiative sponsored by Alibaba.com to raise awareness about the contributions small and medium businesses make to the US economy and to help them get more market share in the global ecommerce community. Alibaba.com is the B2B division of Alibaba Group (NYSE: BABA).
B2B Tuesday will from now on be a regular event celebrated not only by Alibaba.com, but by other organizations that share similar goals. The 2B2 community will promote the successes of US 2B2 SMBs, share knowledge, resources, and other information that can help them grow. They hope to help SMBs to access the over $23.9 trillion global B2B eCommerce pie, an amount that is larger by a factor of six than the B2C eCommerce market. The event every Tuesday will feature B2B stories of success, face-to-face events, highlights of new offerings, educational content, and more.
An independent research company recently conducted a “US SMB Confidence Survey at the behest of Alibaba.com. They asked 5,000 US SMBs who engage in B2B business to relate to the following issues:
• The survey found that 62% of B2B businesses are feeling optimistic about the economy. • A bit less than half (46%) said they expect their B2B business to improve. • Substantially more than half (57%) hired new employees to support their online B2B buying and selling.
Other issues explored in the survey included globalization and digitalization.
“Strong SMB confidence among American business owners and entrepreneurs, plus the growth from digitizing of their business and doing business globally means the future is bright for U.S. SMBs,” said John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group. “Less than one third of businesses we surveyed have been doing business online for more than five years. That means there is an enormous opportunity for U.S. SMBs to digitize and grow their businesses globally with ease. And B2B Tuesday is one more example of how Alibaba.com is here to help.”
It’s not every day that Israeli television makes it into the American news. But recently, Marta Kauffman, producer of the outrageously popular “Friends,” has announced that she will be producing a US remake of the Israel TV drama “Shtisel.” Certainly “Shtisel,” and its focus on the Ultra-Orthodox Shtisel family in Jerusalem, doesn’t seem like a theme that will grab America’s attention.
Hollywood seems to disagree. In 2003, Daniel Taub created and wrote “The Rebbe’s Court” which was a series focused on the lives of members of a Hassidic dynasty in Tel Aviv. Until Daniel Taub’s portrayal, most depictions of the ultra-orthodox were stereotypical and two-dimensional. Daniel Taub discussed the challenges that he faced when writing the show as he said,
“The producers wanted me to put some secular characters center stage for the largely secular audience to identify with. I insisted that the goal was to bring the viewers to connect emotionally with people from a very different world, and thankfully we were able to do this.”
Taub’s series was eventually bought and broadcast by Channel 10 and was a hit with both the secular public and the ultra-orthodox. As Daniel Taub explained, “In one episode of the series, a secular song is sung by one of the actors at a Shabbat meal. I was surprised to learn from one Hassid that this was now a regular Shabbat song in his community.”
Since this groundbreaking work, “Almost Touching,” “Kathmandu” and “Shtisel” have all become hits. Such hits, it seems, that America is now gearing up for their own “Shtisel” with a top Hollywood producer. Wonders never cease.
The Alliance, which represents a broad rand of businesses from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals, has sent letters to the president and congressman saying that Modi’s visit is an important event which should include discussions about crucial commercial issues which are harming India’s ability to grow its trade economy.
“We hope you will use this visit to engage with the Prime Minister to advance both discussions and concrete action to produce a stronger and more-promising U.S.-India commercial relationship,” the Alliance wrote.
“A strong and vibrant U.S.-India relationship is beneficial not only to our two countries, but also to greater growth and opportunity throughout the world.”
The International Port Corp, a Miami-based shipping company, is the first US company to open a staffed office in Cuba since restrictions on US trade with Cuba have been eased.
A number of companies have applied for and have been given licenses from the US government to open operations in Cuba, but so far only IPC has followed through. Owner and President of IPC, Larry Nussbaum, said that his company rented a warehouse in Havana from the government of Cuba. It is staffed with six employees who were hired by a Cuban government employment agency. IPC pays the employment agency.
“The opportunities are great. Cuba is open for business,” Nussbaum said. “Now we need the American legislation to make it legal for companies like mine to expand what we can legally do in Cuba.”
IPC was first awarded their license to ship between Miami and Havana in July 2012 on humanitarian grounds. Since that time Nussbaum has expanded his company to also include commercial shipments and cargo for diplomats, by air and sea.
Despite the lifting of restrictions there has not been a serious upsurge in shipments to Cuba because Cuba is not buying too much from the US right now. The main problem is that the US embargo does not allow the offer of credit to Cuban purchasers of US products, so there is no competition in the market.
“The growth of my business is dependent on the U.S. making more activities legal,” Nussbaum said.
The International Monetary Fund is warning that the risk of a global financial crash is on the rise due to China’s economic slowdown and a concomitant decline in world trade. This double-headed decline has the effect of de-stabilizing emerging economies which are burdened with large debt.
The IMF, the Washington-based lender of last resort, explained that because of the large scale borrowing by emerging market countries with debts which are highly susceptible to increased interest rates, policymakers need to act fast to strengthen the financial system.
The cautionary statements come after a difficult summer of global market chaos caused by China’s currency devaluation, instituted to increase its export flow. That action set off a panic reaction in world-wide markets, which crashed. Investors suddenly understood the real meaning of China’s economic slowdown.
Earlier in the week the IMF lowered its prediction for global growth in 2015 down to 3.1 percent. That number is the smallest since the low point of the 2009 downturn.