On May 9-10, PayPal hosted its 3rd annual D.C. Merchant Fly-In, bringing ten PayPal small business owners to Washington D.C. to meet with elected officials and stakeholders to communicate their entrepreneurial stories and how PayPal has played a role in that success and growth. The merchants came from states all across the country to share their stories, representing different regions and communities.
This year’s Fly-In coincided with PayPal’s inaugural PayPal Small Business Month, focusing on small business empowerment and entrepreneurial support throughout the month of May. In an effort to share the broader campaign with D.C. stakeholders, the PayPal team hosted a Happy Hour Reception that included over 200 attendees and 10 Members of Congress. Also participating on the PayPal side was Franz Paasche, SVP of Corporate Affairs, Doug Bland, VP of Business Financing Solutions, and Richard Nash, VP of Global Government Relations.
In Washington, D.C. the goal of this Small Business Month event was to educate policymakers and influencers on the impact digital tools, like those offered by PayPal, are having on small business growth. During meetings with the United States Senate on May 9, the merchants specifically communicated the importance of access to capital and how PayPal Working Capital has enabled their growth and in some cases, survival. The group also discussed how the Internet is allowing small businesses to reach a global audience, playing a critical role in their expansion. In total, the group met with 15 Senate offices.
To continue the message of small businesses engaging in cross-border trade through digital platforms, PayPal co-hosted a panel discussion on May 10 in partnership with the Global Innovation Forum to discuss the opportunities and challenges for small businesses selling internationally. The event began with a panel of PayPal merchants who shared their experiences, pain points and ambitions in selling internationally. A group of private and public sector experts in this area then followed that panel, which included Melissa O’Malley, PayPal’s Director of Global Initiatives. The participants discussed how innovative technologies and positive public policy can help to break down barriers for small businesses and help to encourage cross-border trade. Other panel participants included, James Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Dept. of Commerce, DeVere Kutscher, Senior Advisor at Small Business Roundtable, and Melissa Netram, Director of Policy at Intuit.
Finally, in the spirit of Small Business Month, the merchants engaged in some workshops and focus groups to close out the event so they could learn from PayPal experts and each other, ways to improve/grow their businesses as well as PayPal learning from the merchants how we can improve the small business experience.
The event was a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate thought leadership in areas like access to capital and cross-border trade as well as celebrate entrepreneurs and share small business success stories.