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IGF 2019 – Day 1 – Convention Hall II – High Level Session on SMEs and Internel Governance - RAW

The following are the outputs of the real-time captioning taken during the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Berlin, Germany, from 25 to 29 November 2019. Although it is largely accurate, in some cases it may be incomplete or inaccurate due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid to understanding the proceedings at the event, but should not be treated as an authoritative record. 

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>> ANDREA THILO:  There was one question that leads us directly, that was digitally pronounced, how can SMEs be supported to connect the unconnected?  Which leads directly to the next High Level Panel, Internet Governance and SMEs.  And it has been mentioned a lot also by John, so I'll now hand over the microphone to Dr. Friederike Grothe.  She's a partner at Grothe media consultants, an Agency for strategy in communication and the Agency focuses on the interface of politics, media, digital economy and science and very interestingly enough, it just recently worked on a project at the heart of our next session which is incorporation with the Alexandre Humboldt Institute for Internet and society.  It explored the opportunities of Internet Governance for SMEs so she initially started out, I do my best, Friederike.

 

No, she started out as a journalist so I think she's really her whole DNA, sense of curiosity and we learn a lot from her now.  You get our panelists to work.  Okay.  Enjoy.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Let me see, this works already and we want to give the panel guests before us enough time to get the photos and get the message out visually, too.

Just sit wherever you like.  No order.

Okay, that's wonderful.

So that's great.  Good afternoon, everybody here and out there at the remote hubs.

I think we are all excited to sit here, be here, and be able to continue actually with many of the issues we've just heard.

I'm very delighted that I have a lot of entrepreneurial spirit here around me, because each of the guests of this High Level Panel has already been a Founder, has already had some startup experience themselves.

So we have now the opportunity not only to talk about entrepreneurs, but also with entrepreneurs, which is very nice.  My guests are Su Kahumbu Stephanou.  She's coming from organic farming actually, and has founded among other firms green dreams tech.  Green dreams tech has produced a famous application you can say, or a service or a platform.  We will hear more about this later.  It's called iCow, and it helps farmers to get information, to get knowledge, to get access to experts and to get advice on how to better farm.  iCow has been awarded with several prizes and was also mentioned by Forbes just lately as an outstanding application in Africa.

Heike Hölzner.  Heike Hölzner is a Professor of entrepreneurship at HTW, I shortened that. I abbreviated.  It's the yawn of applies science here in Berlin.  She has worked and still working also as a coach for startup accelerators for Governmental programs.  She's an expert in digital transformation, in various areas, not confined to only one industry and she was just awarded being one of top 40 under 40 in science and society by the renowned business magazine Capiitale.

To my left is Pawel Kazakow.  He's launched several startups and is now the CEO of one of his latest startups, it's called Gaiwan.  It's a tee manufacturer and even though it's a tee and very analog and hands‑on thing, it's sold only online, but across mainly online, but across Europe and other countries in the world.

Pawel is a trained engineer and that helps him a lot I guess or helped to bring his other interests about, which is working with Maganto, an open source tool for building e‑Commerce solutions for building online shops and I'm sure we'll hear about that later.  Two, he's also active in a business organization named young entrepreneurs here in Germany and Maria Fernanda Garza.  She is also an entrepreneur.  She has an experience not in e‑Commerce but really in manufacturing distributing building supplies and building tools.

She is President and CEO of Orestia in Mexico City, a firm that's building innovative solutions for plumbing, and also internationally active in all the Americas and part of Asia, as I learned.

Maria Fernanda is also very interested in bringing the business environment about in general in National and international levels, and so that I don't get it wrong I will read this.  She is currently a Member of the Executive Board of the International Chamber of Commerce, it's called ICC.  We've heard that a lot in the past half an hour.

And she's President of ICC Mexico and also the Regional Coordinator for the Americas.  Thank you very much for being here.  Thank you very much to agreeing to discuss.

We're starting out almost as part of the Mission we were given earlier this afternoon when it was said, I think it was the Chancellor who said, the multilateral discussion about Internet, about the Internet and how it works, is also an issue for businesses.  We have to bring all together, it's not only a political issue, not only Civil Society but also business.  So we'll continue really this line.

Our first discussion topic will be the role of digital platforms and data for SME, and Maria Fernanda I would like to ask you first:  What do you hear from your constituents basically from the firms you represent at ICC?  How do they work with digital platforms?  Where are they beneficial for small and medium enterprises?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Well, it is for the developing of small and medium enterprised and also considering the microenterprises which is very common in countries in Latin America, as well as Africa and Asia.  Having access to the digital economy is extremely relevant.  We have been hearing this morning, well, this afternoon sorry, I'm still with the jet lag, that there are ‑‑ it's like we're living in two or three different worlds.  We have some countries and companies that have gained full access, and we still have countries like mine that there are some communities that don't even have electricity, as we were listening.

So the challenges are enormous, but ‑‑ and they are in three levels.  First of all is the access to the Internet.  The other one is having access to the platforms and having the right frameworks for SMEs to negotiate with those platforms, because they usually lack the negotiating power, so they end up with not very good conditions.

And on the third part is to have a proper training and skills on the owners of the SMEs and also their employees, because ‑‑ employers, because if they don't retrain constantly, they will lose on the world.  So I was talking of two different worlds because the challenges are on very different levels, and we have to address them accordingly to the needs of each country, but having learned from the past experience of developed countries and use the best practices so we don't go and commit the same mistakes that have been committed all over the world.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Could you give an example of what should be avoided?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  For instance, we have a very small community in Mexico, in the south border with Guatemala.  There's a volcano there, and there are growers, coffee growers, farmers, that have been growing coffee there for centuries but they, now they have electricity but they don't have Internet.  They don't know nothing about the digital world and they grow one of the best coffees because it's completely organical, natural.  Since they have never had the resources to use fertilizers or any kind of chemical additions to the land.  But they can ‑‑ and their coffee is very well valued but not in Mexico, but in places like Germany or Japan, it is very well valued.

But we as a business community try to support them, and we installed computers in the school so children and adults can learn.  But there was no Internet.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  So those are the kinds of things we need to avoid and work with the Government and even though they have been ‑‑ we have been asking for the Internet for many months now, it has not been installed yet.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, so we are really talking about enabling the community at all to work with the Internet, and not even building digital business models.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA: 

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  You have a similar experience what iCow was emerging from or answering to.  Explain how you solved this problem with iCow, this problem of lack of electricity or other resources.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  Thank you for the question.  Thank you all for staying.  We have to look like this to make sure we can make eye contact with the audience but it's really great.  Thank you all who are still in the room.

So we look at connecting, or using technology, any technology, as the tools to connect the people that are, my constituents in my business, and my customers are farmers.  We have in Kenya alone over 108,000 customers who are farmers, and the majority of them don't have Smartphones and they don't have access to the Internet obviously because they don't have Smartphones but what they do have in their hands is a device.  They have a feature phone and what we've done is build a platform.  The back end is cloud based so that component of it uses the Internet.  The front end is USSD based and we then are able to connect with the farmers through the telco and the telco systems and telco platforms, the farmers receive or use a USSD menu based search to look for content that they need or to look for experts that they need and we also have a would you call it online and offline I guess marketplace for farmers as well.

We talked about the issue around data and who owns the data, and how do you protect that data, et cetera.  So we clearly feel that when users come on to our platform through whatever mega platform they've had to come with, whether it's a platform that we're using as our cloud based platform or whether it's a telco platform but we feel they're our customers and we protect the data for our customers, whereas some of the other platform owners feel that it's their customer and their data so those are the kind of issues that we deal with.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay.  How does this work in, when we talk of the classical large digital platforms?  Pawel, maybe you can add on.  You can take this mic.

So how do you work with the large platforms to in contrast?  Have you ‑‑ how do you benefit with Gaiwan tee manufacturers and what are critical or difficult things to.

>> PAWELthank you for your interest in the whole topic.  When we're talking about large platforms, let me be specific.  In Germany the major platform is Amazon, and there is another platform which is eBay and there are other platforms but Amazon is dominating the market so for us, for the Gaiwan tee manufacturer, Amazon has become a very important tool to reach customers and also to fulfill orders because Amazon gives you such a powerful tool that enables every small entrepreneur with not a big budget to launch a physical product.

This is really important.  If we look back like 10 or 15 years ago, it was barely impossible.  If you want to launch a product, if you want to create a physical product and sell it online, you need an online shop.  You need a fulfiller, you'd need warehousing and all of that solves Amazon for many young or small entrepreneurs.  So this is quite a great launch pad to start your own business.

But there are also challenges and when the business becomes bigger and uses Amazon to quite a large extent, then this business needs more security, more reliability in case of any trouble with Amazon, because there are sometimes ‑‑ sometimes you can be switched off for some reason that is not really existing, or there is no debate.  Amazon is very easy on disabling businesses, and it happened to me, as well, so just this year, just because of tax compliance check in the U.K ‑‑ by the way we're selling not just in Germany but also across Europe ‑‑ so in the U.K. we were offline for three months, since August, and there was no discussion, and the end of the compliance check resulted in us paying virtually nothing, like, a few hundred bucks, which is ‑‑ it's too low of an amount for the penalty we received through being offline for 3 months.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So actually, there's some relation, right, in the kind of problem one can have and it doesn't really matter whether you use a large digital platform, or ‑‑ .

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  If you don't own the large digital platform, and you depend on them, unfortunately there are some of those risks that come with those dependencies and they're not always easily solvable.  We've walked away from very lucrative business because it just has been by our books ethically uncorrect, or, you know, unfair.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  But you of course are distributing knowledge as you said and information and not goods.  So Heike, how would you ‑‑ what would be your comment to this challenge to work with as a small enterprise with large platforms?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  Well, I think what we just established already in the discussion is that huge platform businesses enable small and medium sized companies to make use of economies of scale, right?  So by definition as a small and medium sized enterprise, I am not able to realize economies of scale in terms of very efficient logistic infrastructure for example, access to a broad customer base, so this is something that's really attractive for SMEs and this is the reason why many SMEs start cooperating or working together with digital platforms and I think that the disadvantages of this business relation only evolves over time so only in time as SME I realize that I would like to make use of my own data, right?  That I establish a more complex business model where I really want to, or which should be based on a broader data, usage of data.

So I think that the challenge is that nowadays, platform businesses have become so powerful, especially in accumulation of data, that we need to discuss new approaches in cooperation between SMEs and platform businesses.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  How do you promote those cooperations at ICC?  We heard a little bit earlier from John Denton already but can you explain more on that?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Date flowing is one of the biggest risks we're facing.  John just mentioned the moratorium of the WTO.  This started in 1989 as a pledge, an agreement, of countries not to impose electronic taxes, or tariffs, for electronic transtransmissions and it has been renewed every two years, every year at the WTO Conference but there are many small countries, a small group of countries basically, among them are Indonesia, India, and South Africa, that have identified a problem with electronic commerce which is that there are some goods that, like, programs and books and music, movies, that are now not paying taxes in customs right now.

So they, as usual, Governments do, they said, we need to bring this up to date so let's pay taxes on that.  But we're not considering that data transmission is also emails and text messages and a lot of things that SMEs use every day, and that would also be taxed.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Really?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Yes.

>> So the data itself ‑‑ .

>> MODERATOR:  Exactly.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Not the goods.  Many of the tax laws that are in discussion here in Europe are trying to tax the goods.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  The moratorium is about data, so the problem is that this ends on December 31st of this year, and if we don't do enough so our countries can hear us, this will go on because of the situation the WTO is right now so if you allow me, I would like to invite whatever, the people now left in the audience to please contact your Governments and let them know how important it is to continue with the moratorium, especially if you're from one of those countries that want it to end.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, and since you are interested in trade and a good ecosystem for SMEs, too, so what's your solution to this problem of lacking the funding really for public goods or resources that are needed for digitization of enterprises?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Definitely cannot be only left to Governments.  That's what private investment is so important.  On this, going back to the example I give you of the farmers in the south of Mexico in Chapas, there are thousands of small communities like the one we're supporting but we cannot do it by ourselves.  It has to be the Government as well and Civil Society if we want to bring these people up to the 20th century, or 21st century, because they're still living like in the 17th century.

So we really need to work together, and definitely governance, Governments are not able and have not been able to have the ‑‑ make the investments needed but what they are able to do is to bring up to date the laws, not going into a lot of detail in the laws, because that's a problem with Parliaments, we're hearing about it.  They want to go and they don't realize that on Internet and digital, things are moving so fast that you need to legislate more openly and more into the concepts than into the detail because if you go into the detail, you're handcuffing the evolution of the process itself.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Mm‑hmm.  What's your comment?  What's your opinion on that, on regulation?  Too much?  Not enough?  How much regulation is healthy for small and medium enterprises, medium sized enterprises?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  To be honest I'm not a big fan of regulation especially in context t of Internet.  I think maybe we can talk about a specific point.  We just ‑‑ we're starting to talk about the problem of data ownership, right?  And this is one area where I would say, well, regulation might be useful but only in a very specific way.  So what's the problem here?

The problem is that when we talk about data ownership, data is owned by the entities who collect it, not the ones it originates from, and this is one aspect where I think that regulation can be helpful in order to give back the powers and give back the ownership of data to the entities, to the people it originates from.

Another problem especially when we talk about platforms and date ownership, is that data is usually stored in centralized databases which make them very prone to be hacked, and this is a problem because of course we saw it in 2018, Facebook, Google, and so on, this is also a problem for the user, because it attacks the privacy and ‑‑ the user privacy.

So I think that in terms of date ownership, regulations might be helpful even to produce more innovation because it changes the circumstances for innovation, but other than that, I'm not a huge fan of regulation.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, then, let's take maybe a little bit with data ownership.  So you are an entrepreneur and you want to get direct context to your customers or don't you?  Do you get the data of your customers?  Do you get enough data of your customers when you use online platforms for distribution?  Not only distribution but selling.

>> Pawel Kazakow:  This is quite an interesting question.  First of all just recently we got GDPR which improved the rights of the data owners, so of the customers particularly, severely, so you can, for example, from Amazon or for any other provider you can get the information, what data is stored and you can even ask for deleting the whole data about you and by law, they are ‑‑ they have to follow your bidding.  So they have to really delete the data.

Then the most important thing and the most expensive thing today for online business is coverage, or reach.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Sorry, reach?

>> Pawel Kazakow.  Reach, yeah.  So you want to reach customers and people buy customers using advertisement.  Advertisement has gotten extremely expensive.  You often pay per click and many users who do not run a business and consequently do not pay for advertisement, they are unaware that a click on goodal ad words may cost two Euros or 3 Euros or 5 Euros and above so one click without a sale and this is something that companies are willing to pay to get sales and as a consequence of a sale, customers' data to send them personalized advertisement and to sell goods to these customers.

So Amazon invested, again, Amazon is an important platform for us.  We also have an online shop, but this is more for B2B customers so many private customers buy on Amazon from us, and Amazon has invested a lot to get customers' data.  They provide extreme service.  It is a very easy to return a product to Amazon if you don't like it.  And they are certainly interested in protecting the data from this perspective.

So it is not about Data Protection for Data Protection itself, so, like, privacy.  No, it is an inprotection.  They don't want me to use this data for my own advertisement so for Amazon specifically all email addresses of customers are encrypted.  It's an encrypted string @amazon.de.  If I send a message to a customer Amazon monitors every message.  If I excessively contact customers they will ask me to stop that or ban the account.

So they use an extreme control over how I communicate with customers.  Although I get the full address because the contract is between customer and us and my company, so we have to write them ininvoices and it contains the full address, I'm not allowed to send them advertisement like physical letters.  From my perspective it's not very much the protection of customers' data, it is more of a protection of reach investment from Amazon.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  But you still profit.  You use the platform still because it's a useful thing.

>> Pawel Kazakow:  Sure, yes.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  You keep enough, in other words.

>> Pawel Kazakow:  Yes, for sure.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  What would happen if for some odd reason if your relationship with Amazon is cut, you then have to reach out to them with physical means?  Just a, you know ‑‑

>> If Amazon suspends the account what happens then?

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  Yes, to all your customers.

>> Pawel Kazakow:  By terms of service, we have to separate.  The there is term of service of Amazon their own rules and there is legislation, the law of a country where Amazon operates so by terms of service of Amazon, I'm not allowed to use this data to contact customers although according to GDPR I'm not allowed to use customers' data for contacting them so if Amazon suspend the account for whatever reason, this is the risk I have to take.  They can shut down the business and I would really welcome if some laws or some regulations will be in place to protect businesses from this kind of operation from Amazon because Amazon is a huge company.  They are service oriented.  They're process oriented.  You cannot run such a huge company without processes.  However, if something happens without these processes, outside of those processes, they are very inefficient.  It is very hard to get in contact with somebody on Amazon, and even if you get in contact, this person often does not know what to do, because they have no clear Plan of Action how to handle this kind of situation, and I'm speaking from my experience with this suspension in the U.K.  It was not such a huge deal for us, because we are mainly selling in Germany, but still, it was a great experience to see what happens ‑‑ .

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  If you're selling thousands and thousands of dollars a day it would have been massive.

>> Pawel Kazakow:  Yes, yes, absolutely.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Let's go back to the framework a little bit, and we heard a lot earlier that, well, yeah, you know, just finding out what could help, and would be able to ‑‑ how one can be able to improve the situation to the benefits for the small and medium sized companies.

We heard a lot of earlier interest in building decentralized platforms and maybe going to business organizations or trade Associations or so for enabling, establishing, promoting decentralized platforms like self‑managed or so.

What would you say to this?  Or have you already started doing something like this?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Yes, John was mentioning in the previous panel, he talked about the development of blockchains for purposes, especially thinking on the small and medium enterprises.  The ICC I believe has, the International Chamber of Commerce, although let me say we're not really a Chamber of Commerce.  That's a name because we started in 1919, but what we have been looking since the beginning is to provide the tools for businesses to really engage in global trade, from the known international trade, commercial terms, that everybody that is into exporting business uses every day, that it's something that can portray what we foresee as the future for the SMEs and companies going into e‑Trade, and since the terms were developed in 1935 they were developed by the companies that use the international trade itself by the Specialists and they're reviewed every 10 years.  Every 10 years we get together, we hear from the users, we hear from our members and we update the rules every 10 years.  We're much faster than governments legislating definitely and this is what we see for the future that John was talking about the blockchains.  We believe that by creating this entity that is independent as being part of the ICC, small and medium companies will access blockchains, that we allow them to fulfill the requirements of today's markets.

Customers want to know that you are respecting human rights, that you are conducting your business in a respectful way to environment, and inclusivity and all that, and the only way you can prove to them without a higher cost is the use of blockchains and that's kind of the things that we're looking into the future.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  But you've not really started yet.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  We have already started the launch of it, and we're just kind of testing it in Singapore right now.  Yes, already started.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, so next time we meat we'll hear a little bit already about how it is working.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  It just started last October.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Do you have a device Heike for blockchain, building a blockchain ecosystem?  Because I know you've done research on this and worked on this, so what is necessary to make this technology successful?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  So there are several things we can talk about.  Prior to that I would like to add something to our discussion about GDPR and regulation because I think that GDPR is a perfect example for a regulation went wrong, because if we look at the implementation phase in Germany, first of all we know from studies that 90% of the users admit that they don't read terms and conditions, right?  Everybody just clicks it away.  So it's a regulation meant to educate or to increase the level of security and knowledge for the users but users most of the time just don't behave the way we think they do, we anticipate they do so this is a very complex regulation system and it just, you know, I think it's the right ‑‑ it's the wrong way to approach the problem and decentralized technologies can be a better way to approach the problem of massive data ownership with platform businesses and in order to especially enable small and medium sized companies to make use of technology in the future first we need to establish identities because we need to enable the user to address decentralized business solutions.  We need to enable the user to like for example order something from a decentralized Amazon where every small and medium sized company can sell their products but not on a platform business and because of that decentralized solutions first of all start with the infrastructure and this is something that needs to be established first before small and medium sized enterprises can make use of it.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Go back to data, general Data Protection once more.  Isn't this a tool or a law actually that gives a lot of trust which is so necessary and what we've heard before?  Isn't it good so that customers can trust the online markets and other agencies so they access on the Internet?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  I'm happy to admit I don't read terms and conditions.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Because you don't have to because you know there's a basic protection, no, of your data?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  Well, yes, there's a basic protection but still if you agree to terms and conditions you might agree that your data will be accumulated, stored, sold, whatever.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So ‑‑ yes, please.

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  So I agree, I totally agree with you.  By the way, we checked in our online shop the behavior of customers, and we found out that especially German customers do read the impress, and relatively often compared to other countries, and read also terms of services so yes, the GDPR has definitely its drawbacks.  For example, this cookie hint that you have to click away every time, it doesn't make sense because every web site uses cookies.  It is necessary.  It is a state of the art.  You cannot have a web site without cookies by today's standards.

So one important thing about this whole regulation and reading is that many people even in the e‑Commerce space neglect the value of time, of customers' time.  They just see the money, but the money is not the only value the customer gives to a provider.  Time is a much greater value from my perspective, because to read something, to look at the product, to communicate with the product by reading about it and watching videos, it is time, the lifetime of the customers, which you cannot buy for money and then at the end of it, the customer might exchange money for the product.

So time is a very important currency in today's e‑Commerce and you also know those 3 second rules if the video does not appear within 3 seconds people click away.  If you completely neglect time as currency these type of regulations appear like you have to read terms of services.  Nobody has time to read that.  At least if you buy a product for 10 Euros you don't want to invest your time.  If you buy a product or service for a four figure amount or five figure amount for sure you will read the terms of services.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Thank you.  I would like to address another topic that relates to possibilities of cooperation among small and medium sized enterprises, which is sharing knowledge and sharing maybe even the knowledgeable scientists, data, experts or even software, shared software, and you work with Magento which is an open source software.  Do you feel that it has a very good appeal or that it is very helpful for small and medium sized enterprises?  Can everybody use it?

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  Well, can everybody use it is quite a tricky question, because it is free.  It is open source, although there is also a version for money.  But it is also quite complex and challenging, so the consequence of it being free and everybody can learn Magento and develop Magento, gives a market a huge number of service providers so you don't have to be a licensed service provider and pay money to some organization, you can just learn Magento and open your service for money as a freelancer or Agency or any other organized group and this is certainly very helpful for businesses to launch an e‑Commerce project.  However, there are also shops for rental fee of, like, 20 Euros per month which you can also use for a start because if you use Magento, you will pay at least 50 or even more Euros per month just for the server, although the software is for free.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, so we need different levels for entry for small and medium.

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  Yes, it depends.  It depends.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Su, you have actually developed your own technology behind your service platform.  How did you manage to do that?  Did you get any help?  Did you have any kind of shared software or so?

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  So you know when I'm listening to people speak here, I'm not a techie.  I own a tech company and I know very little about technology but I do have a product that is delivered using technology.

I looked for the right people.  I got together a team of people and I told them what I wanted and we started to build it.  We've built it and broken it many times.  Our strategic partners are Accenture so they help our team as well and recently we've engaged a development a team in India so for me, technology is just the means of delivering our product.  So like I'm saying, there's a lot of tech stuff that I'm going to be hearing here that I'm just like:  What?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Yeah, but on the other hand you have a very well‑working tool theres.

>> Yeah.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Could you imagine licensing the tool?

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  Eventually yes.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Maybe we need to explain more.  You're helping people that don't have Internet access, have access to some kind of technology but not to the Internet so ‑‑ .

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  Exactly, so the tool we've built it's language agnostic, it's content agnostic and country agnostic and it can be used for anything.  It can be used to educate farmers in agriculture.  It can be used as a medical tool.  There are various services within the tool so it's not just educating per se.  There's also connecting users with experts on the ground.  There's also connecting like I'm saying through the marketplace.

We have dabbled with the idea of looking at one of our revenue streams much further down the line as software as a service.  I sound like I know what I'm talking about, don't I?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Sounded wonderful.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  So that's one of the things we're thinking about but right now, my passion is scaling the agricultural perspective across Africa and I have committed the next possibly the next 6 months, that's all we're going to do in terms of trying to get the numbers across Africa and the access across Africa and that means working with Governments, it means working with telcos, it means a lot of my focus can't be on something that isn't great to think about later as a revenue stream but right now that's what we want to do.  That's our core.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So before we have the questions from the audience, I would like to address to you all the question:  What would be good tools beyond what we've discussed to empower small and medium sized enterprises to really make their voices heard in Internet Governance processes?  What have we learned so far?  And we will have more questions and so on but what do you think are good tools you've experienced?  What has helped?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Well, first of all, and the reason why I started participating in business organizations is because you need to have a stable environment in your countries to develop any kind of a size company but especially for SMEs.  We need to have a proper rule of law, and the certainty that the rules that are applying today will continue in the future, because in some of our countries, you know, any time ‑‑ every time we have a different Government, they decide that they're going to review whatever the previous Governments have done and they change everything, and there's no way that our business can grow with that kind of changes.  And certainly, the rule of law and stop corruption for most of our countries are extremely important to develop all kinds of businesses.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So you would say that your engagement in business organization was to bring some stability?

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Well, I was trying to understand what was going on in my country in the 1980s so that's why I started, but also, we also need to bring access, better access, for investment, and trade for small and medium enterprises, better access to finance opportunities.  The financial markets today are kind of more have forgotten what the original trade of goods was, so it is very, very difficult to access financing for producing actual real products, and to try to sell them.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, so you need to build bridges between, as a Chamber of Commerce or other business organizations, need to build bridges between the different stakeholders basically.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Definite.  It has to be a multi‑stakeholder effort.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  At the local and Regional level.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Yes.

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  I totally agree.  As small and medium sized enterprises they just don't have the time and the resources to be engaged and invested themselves.  They don't have the time to do lobbying for example so yes, we need alliances in order to make their voices heard, and also we need innovation in order to solve technical problems.  If the problem of data accumulation in platform businesses is a problem of technology, we need better technology to solve it, so this is something else, innovation and driving forces, yeah.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  And what are the stakeholders that have proven most efficient in those ‑‑ in building connections and coming together?  You've done this research, and could you say there's a special constellation that was helpful?  Like, we had Accenture even here so it was a different kind of stakeholders?

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  Well, by stakeholder you mean intermediaries?

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Different kinds.  So it can be intermediaries, it can be policy, it can be business Associations, it can be large business helping small business, all kinds.  Science can be very helpful.

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  Well, if science is supposed to be helpful, I think science needs to communicate on an easier level so I think the problem with science most of the time is that it's just so far away from the reality of small and medium sized companies, so in order for research institutes to be helpful and they can, I think, in for example building use cases, we need to focus more on the really, like, the prominent problems of SMEs and not the general questions and the general discussions.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay.  Now, Andrea.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  If you don't mind, I think and I guess just being here and seeing some of the huge big gaps between the speed of the way the Internet and access to the Web is moving, and even the question that came in from our Parliamentarian earlier where he said, what are they supposed to do or whatever?  I think that one of the things in the developing world we should start looking at is creating more forums where the different ecosystems can actually get together and have discussions and actually embedding those into part of business and part of Government, so that we have the conversation so that we're not hearing, getting answers over Twitter, you know what I'm saying?  So we actually have dialogue in‑country around the issues, but a very, very focused dialogue on some of the issues so we can again, and it was mentioned earlier around I think it was, I'm not sure if it was Tim or somebody else talked about some of the policies and things that, or regulations that should not be so stringent that they actually stifle innovation.

I believe that innovation should come before regulation.  If you look at what happened in Kenya, we know all know the mpesa story, it was innovation that came before regulation but the innovators were giants.  When the giants talked to Government, Government listened.  When you've got smaller and medium sized businesses where you've got great innovation how do they get heard?  I think having dialogue and creating spaces for dialogue and Forums should help.

>> ANDREA THILO:  Can I drop some it's more or less speed dating questions for the beginning.  One is do you think, quick answer, that offline and online commerce will ultimately co‑exist?  Or that e‑Commerce will determine commerce in the future?

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  I think that common sense wins and things that require to be offline, like tea, it will never go completely online, or clothing.  If you buy clothes, certainly you can send it back but you still want to try it out, so things that you want to experience offline, they will still have presence in the offline world.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  I want to talk for my constituents, things like cows and chickens and eggs.

>> ANDREA THILO:  Not yet.  If they come from the 3D printer, let's see.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  That will be traded offline.  It won't be something you'll be trading online.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  I truly believe what you said about the experience, the experience of the purchase begins when you decide that you want to purchase something, and the experience that you in the future will have when you go to a store is very different than when you just click on your computer.

So it's about the full experience, and that's where there are a lot of opportunities for SMEs to really grant a different experience to customers that will make them go back to their stores.

>> ANDREA THILO:  I have another speed dating question which is:  Electronic commerce, do you think it's a panacea for SMEs?  Or a threat?  Which means is it a curse or a blessing?  Just nailing it down, how would you answer?

I put it again, electronic commerce, is it a curse for SMEs or a blessing?  So is it the best or the worst?  Or is it a ridiculous question?

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  Electronic commerce is simply a tool, so it depends on how you use this tool, and it makes definitely many things efficient, or more efficient, than they were previously without e‑Commerce.  And it is not suitable for every business, so for example if you sell big machinery or pipes made of plastic, I don't think that an online shop will help growing your business.  Or cows or chickens, yeah.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  You need to make sure that your customer base is up to what you try to apply.  I remember in 2002, I heard about business to business platforms and I was so excited to know that the one we were using in our company will allow us to do it with our distributors but you have to understand that I have two different type of distributors:  The big ones like the Walmarts and the Home Depots and that kind of people, but also the small store mom and pop hardware store and I try to bring them into the business to business and as long as I explain and I keep on telling them, this will be great because from your computer you don't need to wait for a sales guy.  You can see our inventories.  It was like I was talking Japanese to them.  So you need to understand your customers and where they are at, and although you can have access to the technology that you know it will help them, if they're not ready, they're not ready.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  And I agree.  I also think that infrastructure is hugely important, as well because we have e‑Commerce happening in Kenya but it takes 6 days for something to come.  In that time you would have gone to the store.  So if your roads don't work if it's raining, if the distribution system, you have to rely on so many people and each one of them if they've got issues, there's a risk to your brand and your business.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Maybe we shouldn't forget that many, many, many SMEs don't trade goods, but produce goods.  I mean, like you.  You're not going to bring your plumbing devices to ‑‑ via e‑Commerce solutions to your clients.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  You, in the end, you will need to have somebody installing it, and although we do work on videos and training on the Internet so people can do it themselves, because that's the main part of it, still there's a lot of people that will want a plumber to go in.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Yes, okay.  I understand.  Okay.

Another question is, with the developments of artificial intelligence, how are SMEs supposed to compete with the giants like Google and Amazon that have a head start in AI, artificial intelligence, and customer data?  What do you think, Heike?  I don't think this is a speed dating question.

>> ANDREA THILO:  No, I didn't put that up front.  That's a tough one.

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  It's a tough one, yes.  I don't know.  I think all those concepts like blockchain and AI and so on are so far away from the ‑‑ I already said this a couple of minutes ago, are so far away from the actual problems small and medium sized companies have, I don't know if complex AI solutions are necessary for every SME, so I think the important first steps for SMEs to be able to make use of those complex technologies in the future is to be fully digitized so they need to learn how to grasp the data, how to process data first, before we can talk about making use of artificial intelligence and things like that.  So I think this is so far away from the reality right now, so yeah.

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  I think that this whole topic of artificial intelligence and neural networks, the naming supposedly or make it seem like it is something like human would do, or humans will think but it is nothing like.  It's just an automation on another level.  It's just a certain level of algorithms.  For example, neural networks are just a multiplication of huge mattresses, it's just math.  This is nothing to do with neural network in my brain so it helps certainly to make adaptable solutions, so the solution is not rigid but can sort of learn, quote, unquote, but it is nothing to be afraid like Hollywood films show us, like robots will conquer the world or something.  It's just a different level of automation and I think that artificial intelligence for example in language processing is very important and very helpful, for example, for ‑‑ regarding the previous question, how to communicate with Government.  There are too many people to be heard but with artificial intelligence, you kind of can process all the questions at once and see what topic is the most popular among people and look close into it.  And you can also automate customer service at least at a certain level with artificial intelligence.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Do you think that's within reach of SMEs?

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  Yes, absolutely and as always if you have a complex technology, there will be a service provider which will make it easy for SMEs or other entrepreneurs to access that.  For example Magento is also a quite complex technology and you will not learn it for the weekend or with a few days of training.  You will have to buy a service provider who will develop our modify the shop for you.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  The next question, how do we make sure that the employees of SMEs can use and operate these digital tools and platforms?  Will it be further education?  Will it be funding?  You touched on this earlier.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  Okay, yes.  As I mentioned before, for instance, the International Chamber of Commerce developed the ecoterms so people will know exactly when they own the products and how are they going to ship it and who's responsible for the freight and for the safety issues, et cetera.

So we need to train the users of these tools and what we do is we have an ICC Academy in Singapore which is all e‑Learning and has all kinds of programs for companies from banking, how to use the finance trading, and how to fill up the papers correctly, because that's a lot of problem for smaller companies, up to the use of the ecoterms and all kinds of learning that people in small and medium companies need to have when they start trading in expert matters.

We also for many years we in 1923, we created the international court of arbitration for all disputes in between companies in a trade agreement, and also companies need to learn about that and especially small and medium companies that do not have resources, they need to have access to for instance model contracts and that is something that we also promote in line and any company can access those model contracts that will work on their country, because they are written in a world that all legislation will fit in.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So we see that is very important to help business organizations take care of that.

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  We also need incentive models for SMEs to educate their employees because we have opportunity costs, huge opportunity costs, for SMEs so I think this is something the Government can do to come up with incentive schemes in order to ensure the continuous education of employees in SMEs yeah.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Su, what are you doing?  You told us earlier a little bit about further education for your clients, for your ‑‑ .

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  So when I look at what ‑‑ the first steps for anyone to use something, whether it's a product or a service, it's got to be easy.  You've got to have as low a barrier as possible for an entry.  We were very lucky and we're building over USSD and preceding that was EMPESA which actually got everyone in that space and able to use USSD operated menus so we just built along the same kind of pathway and it's fairly easy entry points so I would say but within our market space where the farmers or the SMEs themselves, they have their own businesses and trade, it has to be really easy.  There again if we aim and we focus on things that have to be so easy that we don't have to get into expensive boots on the ground or other teaching.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Okay, so actually you had the last word, or earlier saying that to help SMEs, we should create an ecosystem of dialogue and I think all of you will agree.  We have a wonderful last speed dating question.  In 10 or 20 years will there be still 95% of all enterprises be SMEs?  Yes or no, Su?  In 20 years.

>> SU KAHUMBU STEPHANOU:  Yeah, for sure.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Pawel?

>> PAWEL KAZAKOW:  I think so, yeah.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  I do too.

>> HEIKE MARITA HÖLZNER:  I think so because we'll have awesome decentralized solutions and SMEs will be stronger again.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  So maybe even more than 95%.  Thank you so much, discussing this wonderful interesting question here on SMEs and Internet Governance.  Thank you for you listening to us, following us with the ups and downs of platforms and data ownership, and, yeah, funding and education.

Thank you, Andrea.

>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you for this very optimistic ending.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Yes, it is.  I think it is.  I feel we have all the reason to do so, to be optimistic.

>> MARIA FERNANDA GARZA:  I think the question was not if 95% of the companies will be SMEs, but the percentage of the GDP, global GDP that SMEs will bring to the world and I hope that's higher than the 60% today.

>> FRIEDERIKE GROTHE:  Very important aspect.  Thank you.

>> ANDREA THILO:  Thank you very much.  Thank you very much.

[ Applause ]

We tried our best on more gender equality through the day.

And there was an interesting remark on the Web and I wanted to share it with you because somebody said the emcee, which should be me, is wrong.  It's not about diversity and inclusion on panels, it's about the question of diversity and inclusion in the systematic behind so who are the opinion leaders and the decision makers to set?  So that for me was an interesting remark out of the community.

So thank you all very much for this incredible attention span.  So we don't have beds here to stay tonight but we have a very nice social hub outside to stay for longer.  So thank you very much for joining, and please spread the word outside online.  Thank you very much.

Thank you all.

[ Applause ]

[ End of session ]

 

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