Since the last SME Ministerial conference in 2018, which focused on “Strengthening SMEs and entrepreneurship for productivity and inclusive growth”, SMEs and entrepreneurs have been disproportionately affected by a series of shocks. First, the pandemic, which threatened the survival of millions of SMEs with limited liquidity, and, more recently, the economic shocks reverberating from Russia’s large-scale aggression against Ukraine. At the same time, SMEs also face significant challenges related to the green and digital transitions (which have been accelerated by recent crises), as well as from disruptions and shifts in global value chains.
Addressing the immediate challenges of these crises, including the squeeze from rising costs and weakening demand, set against a backdrop of tightening monetary policy, is critical. However, and particularly because the fiscal outlook has also tightened, the need to address longer-standing structural challenges in the SME policy space is also a priority. At the same time, there is significant scope to more fully harness the potential of SMEs and entrepreneurship to contribute to major economic, environmental, social and societal transitions. Taken together, these issues point to the critical need to boost the resilience of SMEs, to potential future shocks, and to continue strengthening their capacity to innovate and compete.
Ministers and High-level participants will have to opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas on the overarching theme of the Ministerial meeting “Managing Shocks and Transitions – Future Proofing SME and Entrepreneurship Policies”.