As a skilled middle class emerged in market after market, generational ownership of workshops, sales stalls and other enterprises was common, eventually encompassing farmland as well. Before there were stock markets or investment banks, before quarterly reports or external audits, these businesses formed the bedrock of advancing economies. Most catered to a small market of customers within maybe a day’s journey.

Today, the scope of family-owned businesses has expanded to include some of the world’s largest companies and their economic weight remains massive. In all markets, family-owned businesses form the bulk of the economy and in terms of numbers of individual enterprises they account for a significant proportion of GDP in their markets. 

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