Side event for stakeholders and Ministers


22 February 2018   Hotel Camino Real, Mexico City  8.30 AM

This stakeholder event will include representatives of SMEs, SME associations, enterprise development agencies, SME forums, trade unions, local officials and public development banks, bringing them together with Ministers to enhance multi-stakeholder dialogue. It will include two sessions where five panel members address key questions raised by a moderator.

Session I: How digitalisation is shaping the future of SMEs

Digitalisation is a major driver of productivity growth through the improvement of process efficiency and product quality. For example, the declining costs of data storage and processing can constitute a major opportunity for productivity growth in SMEs. Digitalisation also provides SMEs with greater access to markets, talent, financing, the ability to better communicate and collaborate; it can also help reduce red tape. At the same time, there is a significant difference between large and small firms in how they take advantage of this digital transformation. SMEs face several barriers to adopting digital technologies in their operational activities, in particular in having the resources to acquire the necessary complementary knowledge-based assets, such as organisational and human capital, including the upskilling of some workers. In addition, digitalisation can be expected to have important consequences for business models, firm organisation and the provision of quality jobs.


This session will aim to answer the following questions:

  • What recent trends in digitalisation most likely to shape the future of SMEs? What are the implications for firm organisation and job quality?
  • How can SMEs take advantage of digital technologies to be more productive and/or competitive in today's digital world?
  • What should policy makers do to help SMEs harness the most recent trends in digitalisation?


Session II: The importance of SMEs for globalisation, growth and inclusiveness

International activity creates opportunities to accelerate innovation, facilitate spill-overs of technology and managerial know-how, broaden and deepen skillsets, and enhance the productivity of SMEs. However, participation in global markets and value chains is uneven across the SME population. There are a few “born global” firms and highly innovative SMEs that are fully integrated into global markets. Many SMEs, particularly in developing countries, might integrate in global value chains (GVCs) at the low-value end, where links between multi-nationals and their local suppliers can be limited and difficult to develop. Additionally, SMEs are less able to face the costs of engaging in international trade due to their limited resources and management capacities. They also face challenges with accessing the skilled workforce needed to succeed, and responsible supply chains are needed to ensure that SMEs improve the quality of the jobs they provide. Financing in the appropriate forms is important to secure the resources needed for international activity, while transparency and other good regulatory practices can limit regulatory costs and burdens and promote SME competitiveness in global markets. A focus on increasing managerial skills for small business owners and SME top management teams could be an additional lever to succeed in integrating SMEs in the global economy.


This session will aim to answer the following questions:

  • How can SMEs make the most of the new opportunities offered by GVCs? What are the new recent trends in global markets which are shaping the way SMEs go international?
  • Beyond job creation and job quality, what role can SMEs play in supporting more inclusive growth, especially in emerging and low-income economies?
  • What could policy makers do to further support the globalisation and growth of SMEs beyond conventional policies already in place (e.g. export finance/insurance, promotional services, etc.)?


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