Guest blog: Getting your message to the Prime Minister's Desk

Posted by: Alycia Lowdon on September 18, 2017

In this week's guest blog, Illuminate's CEO Tynan Wenarchuk shares his experience as a G20 YEA delegate in Berlin, and the recent G20 break throughs that have materialized as a result of business advocacy. He's also included his expert insights on European company culture attributes that make them such a force for happiness and productivity in the workplace. 

My experience

Many of you might typically glance over an article about policy. You’ve got a business to run after all!  And something like the G20 Summit (forum for the world’s 20 major economies) might even seem irrelevant to you, right?  

Well until a few months back, I would’ve completely agreed with you. I was head down, nose to the grind; committed to building my company, Illuminate, working to change the way we build workplace cultures.

And then an unexpected turn of events… I was asked to be a Canadian delegate to the G20 Young Entrepreneurship Summit in Berlin. The Summit brought hundreds of young entrepreneurs together, like myself, to deliberate ways G20 countries can support businesses growth and foster innovation. Our theme was Digital Trends for Future Business. 

What did we set out to do? 

The G20 YEA Delegation is an official recognized influencer of the G20. What does that really mean though?  

In essence, our role is to work with strategic partners EY, Accenture and the Business 20 (B20) to form a letter of advisement for all G20 Leaders before they begin their summit. In fancy policy terms, we call this letter the “communique."  

A room filled with incredibly talented and successful entrepreneurs from each G20 country is a force to be reckoned with. Regardless of our personal opinions of Prime Minister Trudeau, I can say that he made a bold statement in favour of young entrepreneurship. Being the only G20 Leader to provide a personalized video of support played at our Summit, he made it clear he was listening.  

After deep discussions, and loads of research, our delegation came up with a unified communique document prioritizing 3 key recommendations: 

  1. Quality Education. A charge to the G20 leaders to review educational priorities so young people have access to vital skills for new technological and business realities.  
  2. Smart taxation schemes. Calling on leadership to enable SMEs to scale through tax incentives and harmonization of tax schemes across G20 countries, lowering barriers to doing business across borders.  
  3. Enhanced mobility through a G20 Entrepreneur Visa. Simplifying migration of young entrepreneurs could significantly motivate international growth, and promote the free flow of innovative talent across borders. We called upon G20 leaders to establish a G20 Visa Program to provide short-term multi-entry visas for entrepreneurs by 2020.  

Overall, we called upon leaders to consistently commit to harnessing digitalization and fostering entrepreneurship across all G20 countries.

And guess what? Our voice is being heard!  

Recent G20 breakthroughs 

While SMEs and entrepreneurs are large job creators in all G20 countries, the G20 was not known historically for championing the work of entrepreneurs.

2016 was the first year that the G20 leaders even mentioned the word “entrepreneurship” in their final communique document and action plan. Upon discussing with the Canadian Sherpa team (our Prime Minister’s personal representation), credit was even given to the work of the young entrepreneurs’ voice.

One year later, 2017, and we have taken monumental steps forward. Canada pledged $20 million to the World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, in support of female entrepreneurs in developing countries. Trudeau states, "gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are the best way to build a more peaceful, inclusive and prosperous world.”  

On top of that, G20 leaders also agreed to establish a  Business Women Leaders’ Taskforce. This Taskforce will bring together business women from G20 countries to examine ways to increase female participation in the economy and will make recommendations at next year’s summit on how to best implement G20 commitments to women’s economic empowerment.

How amazing is that?  

Our strong voice, advocating on behalf of SMEs and entrepreneurs, was echoed in a noteworthy statement and commitment in the G20 Leaders’ Declaration:

"We recognize the important role that SMEs and start-ups play in the development of a full range of new and innovative business models and will promote better access to financial resources and services and a more entrepreneurial friendly environment.”

This type of discussion was not present among the G20 Leaders until just last year, let alone an impacting statement like this. 

So, can advocacy help build your business? 

Looking back on the Summit, I've come to realize that representing the voice of business owners in Canada is not a light task. I had to consider the full spectrum of businesses: the mom and pop shops, the startups, and the major corporate founders of Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. As business owners and entrepreneurs, our journeys are all unique. We face major challenges on a regular basis while attempting to change the world.

As a G20 YEA delegate, it became quite clear to me that involvement in advocacy and policy is actually a tool I can use to help grow my business. G20 leaders are beginning to acknowledge just how important the SME and entrepreneurial community are to a thriving country.

So, whether it’s spending some time with the policy group at the Calgary Chamber, volunteering for a non-profit’s board, or taking a position on your kid’s parent council, try getting involved with policy and advocacy, and see how it effects your business.   

Bonus business takeaway 

While abroad, I had the opportunity to work with and interview numerous companies from high-growth Danish startups to international players like SAP, Uber and Accenture. We dove deep into innovation, how Europeans structure their workday differently than North Americans, how they build such diversity in their workplaces and how all of these leads to great profitability and productivity. I've shared these insights in an article you can find here on my website.  

Please also feel free to reach out with any questions you may have about the Summit, or how we are working to transform workplace cultures around the world with Illuminate.  

Tynan Wenarchuk is the CEO of Illuminate. You're invited to reach out to him at