25/05/2004 - Government ministers, experts and entrepreneurs from more than 80 countries will meet in Istanbul, Turkey from 3-5 June 2004 for a landmark conference aimed at encouraging the development of small businesses and harnessing their capacity to boost economic growth.
In the 30 countries of the OECD small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for 60%-70% of jobs. But the survival rates of small firms vary greatly from country to country. On the whole young businesses have a better chance of growing in the United States than in most European countries, according to OECD findings. Much of this is due to differences in the business climate, in costs and in the administrative framework.
Promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovative SMEs in a Global Economy, a ministerial conference organised jointly by the OECD and the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Trade, will look at what governments can do to improve the business environment for small firms in developed and developing countries alike.
A range of questions will be tackled. How can governments stimulate entrepreneurship and help SMEs meet the challenges of globalisation? Why do relatively few small businesses trade internationally? What policies should be put in place to make it easier to obtain risk capital and deal with red tape? How can small businesses be part of an overall development strategy in poor countries?
The event builds on the first OECD ministerial conference in Bologna, Italy, in 2000, where 48 countries adopted the Bologna Charter on SME Policies. Under an Italian government initiative the Charter also established the International Network for SMEs (INSME) which is now an association of more than 40 countries to promote innovation and technology transfer among small businesses. The Istanbul conference will aim to increase understanding of issues of entrepreneurship and small business competitiveness in a global economy while working towards a broad series of policy recommendations. The themes to be discussed include:
Training and education in entrepreneurship,
Encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs,
Encouraging SMEs to grow internationally,
Taking full advantage of information and communication technology and e- commerce,
Improving links with large firms and developing "clusters" of companies,
Improving international statistics on SMEs,
In developing countries, implementing small business strategies within broader poverty reduction programmes.
An opening news conference, presented by Donald Johnston, OECD Secretary-General, will be held at 10.00 am, Friday 4 June at the conference venue, Istanbul's Lufti Kirdar Convention and Exhibition Centre. Details of other media events and facilities can be found on the conference website at: http://www.oecd-istanbul.sme2004.org.
For further information or to obtain media accreditation for the conference, journalists are invited to contact the OECD Media Relations Division (tel: + 33 14524 8103).