Proposals to Support the Emerging Maker Economy

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Source: "Taking the Maker Movement to Washington DC" -

The Proposals

The following is an extract from A Call to Action. FIVE PROPOSALS TO SUPPORT THE EMERGING MAKER ECONOMY

The maker movement is on the rise. There are already over one million Etsy sellers worldwide. Together, they sold over $1.35 billion worth of goods in 2013. The emerging maker movement offers the tantalizing promise of a better economy—one that puts people at the center of commerce, promotes local, sustainable production, and empowers anyone to build a creative business on their own terms.

Yet makers face many challenges. As micro-businesses, they operate in gray areas between amateur and professional, business and worker, consumer and provider. They are inconsistently captured in government statistics and poorly understood by policy makers. If we are to fulfill the promise of a people-powered economy, governments should enable micro-entrepreneurship, support small-scale commerce, and foster economic security for all.

A Micro-Advocate in Every Agency Makers often struggle to learn about the regulations that govern their businesses, yet they are hungry to comply with the rules. Regulatory agencies should establish a Micro-Advocate to conduct direct outreach to micro-businesses, create user-friendly educational tools, and make formal recommendations to ease compliance burdens.

Entrepreneurship Training in Every Jobs Program Most workforce development programs focus on job training and job placement, overlooking the opportunities that self-employment and entrepreneurship offer unemployed and underemployed populations. Workforce development programs should expand their offerings to include micro-business support and training.

Peer-to-Peer Trade Between Every Country The maker economy is global, yet trade laws have not kept up with the advent of peer-to-peer marketplaces, where individuals ship small quantities of goods from one home to another. Countries should negotiate a universal low-value customs exemption, and harmonize the customs, duties, and consumer protection regulations that apply to these products.

Small-Batch Manufacturing in Every Community Consumer demand for local, unique goods creates opportunities for makers to reach bigger markets, yet these designers face several challenges when scaling their home-based operations. Governments should expand manufacturing support services to help small-batch manufacturers source materials, update designs, and locate suitable production partners.

Economic Security for Every Entrepreneur Lacking the security and benefits that come with a full-time job, micro-businesses must manage unpredictable income fluctuations without the benefits of social insurance. Government should invest in programs to help micro-entrepreneurs weather unexpected income shocks and manage their personal and business finances.