SMEs and Entrepreneurs: Realising their full social and economic potential
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups have a fundamental role in society and in the economy. They provide jobs, sources of income and goods and services for important segments of the population. They can also have a significant impact on the productivity and competitiveness of an economy: innovative and high performance firms bring new products and services to the markets; they introduce more efficient ways of doing things; and they create competitive pressure on incumbents. Some SMEs are also integrated in national and global value chains, for instance by providing goods and services to other firms including large and multinational companies.
SME policy is high in the social and economic development agenda of MENA governments and is one of the central areas of co-operation between the MENA region and the OECD.
The main activities of the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme in this policy area are:
The main thematic areas of work of the MENA-OECD Competitiveness Programme are:
Analytical work and technical support
This multidimensional benchmarking of SME policies was undertaken by the OECD in co-operation with the European Commission and the European Training Foundation, in close consultation with MENA governments, the private sector, experts and donors. The study covered key areas for enterprise development reflected in the Small Business Act for Europe (business development services, access to finance, internationalisation, bankruptcy, public procurement, etc.) and represented an update of a similar assessment undertaken in 2008.
Since 2012 the OECD and the Middle East Centre for Economics and Finance (CEF) of the International Monetary Fund organise annual trainings on improving SME policies and access to finance in addition to policies for competitiveness in the MENA region.
The courses take place in Kuwait City and are conducted by experienced OECD staff and international experts in the areas of private sector development, access to finance, industrial policies and others. Each course benefits some 30 to 35 mid to senior-level officials from the Middle East and North Africa. The courses are a forum to discuss specific instruments, methodologies and good practices.
The OECD and the CEF also hold yearly courses on public-private partnerships and on strengthening integrity in the public and private sector.
Activities and Resources
SME Policy Index in the Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa 2014 (See the summary note in English and French)
Report on the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Entreprise: