Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) are a critical component for countries’ strategy to accelerate recovery from COVID-19, but they require support to be able to contribute effectively.
In the 7th edition of the Empretec Global Summit, recommendations were geared towards the need for policy makers to adapt policies and institutions to support MSMEs.
Due to their innovative and opportunity-seeking nature, MSMEs can bolster the recovery process. But to be able to do that, policies must align with the priorities of the post-Covid-19 social and economic recovery, indicated UNCTAD secretary-General Isabelle Durant.
“Short-term support measures such as relieving tax burdens on MSMEs, extending debt finance and employment support are certainly needed and should be continued.”Isabelle Durant, UNCTAD secretary-General
She also noted that, “… it’s important to invest in long-term structural policies, such as digital and financial inclusion, as well as entrepreneurial skills capacity development.”
Accordingly, UNCTAD’s head of enterprise, Tatiana Krylova, averred that the methodology adopted for Empretec involved identifying and then unleashing the entrepreneurial potential of each participant of the summit through behavioural change.
For such to occur, the programme seeks to address individual differences in a person’s desire to achieve excellence in entrepreneurship and fostering capacity through an interactive training approach.
Ms. Krylova remarked that: “During the pandemic, Empretec has continued proving itself as one of most impactful means to facilitate and boost entrepreneurship.”
Furthermore, she encouraged more entrepreneurs and MSMEs to be part of the programme in their respective countries to facilitate their contribution to post-COVID-19 recovery in the MSME sector.
Need for Support for MSMEs
MSMEs are the drivers of the global economy, as they account for two-thirds of employment globally and between 80% and 90% of employment in low-income countries.
Meanwhile, they have been unevenly affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic. Their numbers are huge in non-essential services sectors hardest hit by mobility restrictions. Many MSMEs have suffered huge revenue losses while others have shut down. For instance, in Ghana, about 46,000 businesses were reported to have closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic as at August 2020.
Speaking at the event, Nigeria’s Minister of state for industry, trade and investment, Mariam Katagum, averred that her country is supporting MSMEs through grants to address their financing needs.
“Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by creating opportunities for MSMEs to thrive is essential for increasing productivity, creating jobs and boosting our economy,” Ms. Katagum indicated.
Furthermore, Nigeria recently revised its national policy on MSMEs to strengthen their resilience in the face of the pandemic, she said, noting that more policy frameworks were in the pipeline to support startups in the digital economy.
High-level participants from Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Ghana, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay, corroborated the important contributions Empretec is having in their respective countries.
“Empretec is undoubtedly a transformative experience, a milestone in the lives of many,” said Bruno Quick, the technical director of Brazil’s micro and small business support service agency, SEBRAE.
Others who made contributions at the summit included Empretec directors and graduates from Angola, Benin, Dominican Republic, Nigeria, Romania and Russia. As they explained how the Empretec methodology helped them emerge stronger from the pandemic.