Small Business Ventures Can Improve Many Lives
Lying in a makeshift cot in Togo in West Africa, observing squalid hospitals conditions around her, Victoria (Vicki) Tifft, a young Peace Corps Volunteer, suffered from life-threatening Malaria. As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she couldn’t help but be troubled that a mere mosquito bite had brought her to such a weakened state. Tifft vowed that when she recovered and returned home to the States, she would find a way to put a stop to this infectious and widespread disease. That was 1992.
This year, the company that grew from Tifft’s experience, ClinicalRM, was one of 52 winners in the annual National Small Business Week, a week-long networking and educational event, hosted by the Small Business Administration, focusing on small businesses' accomplishments.
After recovering from her malaria, Tifft’s first stop in the States was to the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research Clinical Trial Center. There scientists work to develop vaccines for infectious diseases. Observing and learning from these scientists inspired Tifft to create ClinicalRM.
Developing FDA-regulated medicines and devices for both government and commercial customers, ClinicalRM launched in 1994, and has grown from just 3 employees to 331, earning $40 million in revenue in 2010. Just as impressive, Clinical RM maintains a strong program of community service, called “Making a Difference,” specifically to “enrich and make a potive difference n the lives of our employees, customers, communities, and the world through volunteerism and community programs,.….” This is a company that does well while doing good.
If Tifft’s accomplishments are any indicator, American small business, its entrepreneurs and workers, are still—maybe more than ever—exemplars of how great ideas coupled with relentless determination can flourish in a culture of free enterprise. Maybe they can even change the world.