Financing SME growth in the MENA region


Barcelona, 19 May 2009


On 19 May 2009 the Working Group on SME Policy, Entrepreneurship and Human Capital Development of the MENA-OECD Investment Programme brought together officials, policy experts and members of the private sector to address policies that promote the development and growth of SMEs. Building on its previous meeting in Bahrain, the Working Group pushed forward key activities for 2009-2010, which include:

  • mitigating the effects of the financial and economic crisis by improving the business climate
  • easing access to finance by leveraging exisiting financial tools such as credit guarantees and venture capital expansion
  • promoting a culture of policy evaluation by developing tools to monitor and evaluate the impact of SME support programmes, and
  • improving business skills and promote women’s entrepreneurship

Participants agreed that SMEs will continue to face challenges due to the economic crisis, but that SMEs will be key to the road to recovery by playing a crucial role in stable, long-term, innovation-led economic growth. Sound and targeted government policies supporting SMEs thus play a central role in crisis recovery on both a country and regional level.
Targeted panel discussions drew on the crucial role of

  • high-growth SMEs in determining and driving growth
  • access to finance in continuing SME development in times of crisis
  • human capital in fostering entrepreneurship and bridging the skills gap, and
  • business reforms to improve the overall business climate for SMEs

The Working Group also re-affirmed its commitment to co-operation with various initiatives and organisations, including the Union for the Mediterranean’s SME Initiative, the European Commission’s Working Party on Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Cooperation, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), IEMed, and the MENA-OECD Regional Centres.


Private Sector Development Division Head Anthony O'Sullivan, Spain's Ambassador to the OECD Cristina Narbona, and IEMed Director Senén Florensa participate in the panel discussions.


 Meeting documentation


Background note


Meeting conclusions

List of participants


 Meeting presentations


Panel I: Key growth drivers for SMEs, the experience of the MENA region and OECD countries: how will they be affected by the current global environment?

The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on SMEs in the MENA Region, Dr. Ibrahim Saif, Senior Economist, Carnegie Middle East Centre, Jordan

Panel II: Policy responses for maintaining and promoting high growth SMEs in times of crisis

Junior Entrepreneurs Association's presentation, Mr. Ayman Al Azzeh, Executive Director, Young Entrepreneurs Association, Jordan

The Case of Lebanon, Mrs. Hana N. Anouti, Economist, UNDP Project,  Ministry of Economy and Trade, Lebanon

Panel III: Lessons learnt from programmes aimed at promoting growth in SMEs

Lessons learnt from programmes aimed at promoting fast growth in SMEs, Prof. David Storey, University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Panel IV: Evaluating SME support programmes, and next steps in the Working Group programme

Lessons learnt from programmes aimed at promoting fast growth in SMEs, Mr. Anthony O’Sullivan, Head, Private Sector Development Division, OECD

Mediterranean Business Development Initiative (Med Initiative), Mrs. Carmen Laín Valenzuela, Deputy Director, European Financial Institutions, DG International Finance, Spain


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