SMEs & Hybrid Retail: adapting to the new normal

 29 June 2022 15:00-17:00 CEST  Zoom Web conference

The retail sector is changing rapidly, becoming more knowledge intensive and technology based, with an increased importance of digital tools alongside traditional physical practices. Many SMEs and entrepreneurs are struggling to transition to the new model, which can create new opportunities but also poses important challenges and new competition. Governments and the business community can play a key role in easing the transition for SMEs, given the importance of the sector in terms of jobs, inclusiveness, regional and social cohesion, and urban development.

Participants received a background note discussing how SMEs and entrepreneurs can effectively adapt to the new “hybrid” environment, mixing physical and digital tools and business practices. During the event, participants from a variety of domains (OECD governments, higher education institutions, large businesses, non-traditional training providers, and SMEs) to share inputs in this area of analysis and contribute to shaping key policy messages. After the event, the OECD will integrate comments and insights in the revised note, which will feed into the 2022 D4SME Policy Paper.




Digital upskilling, reskilling & finding talent: The role of SME ecosystems

 31 March 2022 15:30-17:00 CEST  Zoom Web conference

Closing the digital skills gap is a key step to evening out the playing field between small and large firms and addressing inequalities within society. SMEs are often unable to access digital talent or expertise within their ecosystem, or are unaware of how to up-and reskill the existing workforce in an affordable and effective manner. Governments, higher education institutions (HEIs), large firms, specialised training providers, professionals and technology practitioners can all contribute to closing the digital skills gap for SMEs.

Particiapnts received a background note, discussing how workers and managers of SMEs can re-skill and up-skill effectively to increase their digital capabilities by leveraging the resources of their ecosystem, including a focus on the role of HEIs. During the event, participants will be asked to share inputs to this area of analysis and contribute to shape key policy messages, including through feedback and comments to the background note. After the event, the OECD will integrate comments and insights in the revised note, which will feed into the 2022 D4SME Policy Paper.



3rd D4SME Roundtable

 2 & 3 December2021 09:00-12:00  Zoom Web Conference


The COVID-19 crisis has stressed the need to accelerate SME digitalisation, to weather the storm in the short run, increase resilience in the longer term and “build back better”. However, the pre-COVID challenges related to digital (non) adoption by SMEs remain. Despite the significant benefits on offer, smaller businesses continue to lag in the digital transformation. At the firm level, digital gaps are strongly associated with gaps in productivity, scaling up, innovation and growth.

In 2020-21, OECD governments have launched important public programmes and ‘rescue packages’ to help SMEs adapt to the contactless economy triggered by COVID-19 restrictions, as well as ‘recovery packages’ and structural reforms to support them increase resilience and transition to the more digitalised economy of the future, thus contributing to a more inclusive recovery. Business associations and private sector companies that are active in the digital space also play an important role in this transition, such as through direct support, tailored services and trainings and learning opportunities for SMEs to enhance their digital skill set.

At the Roundtable the first D4SME policy paper on “SME digitalisation to build back better” was launched. The paper was prepared by the OECD Secretariat, in cooperation with the OECD governments and private sector partners of the D4SME Global Initiative and it builds upon OECD analysis and the knowledge sharing and networking activities conducted within the initiative since its debut. The work was presented for comments at the 1st Session of the OECD Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship (CSMEE) in October 2021. The paper illustrates recent trends in the digital transformation of SMEs, discusses main aspects of SME digitalisation in response to the COVID-19 crisis, describes SME digitalisation priorities and measures in recovery packages, and illustrates selected private sector initiatives to foster SME digital uptake.





The Frontiers of Digital Learning: Bridging the digital skills gap for SMEs & entrepreneurs

 30 June 2021   16:00 - 18:00Zoom Web conference

This webinar will discuss the many innovative approaches that can improve availability and accessible of digital skills for SMEs, in all regions and cities. The discussion will highlight the role HEIs, large firms and technology providers are increasingly playing to offer learning opportunities, which SMEs should take advantage of to close the digital skill gap.What digital skills are needed to enable SMEs to embark in a real digital transformation, rather than just engage with basic technologies on a superficial level? What are the main barriers and challenges for SMEs to increase their digital skills? What makes a digital training effective and relevant for SMEs? How can governments, higher education institutions and large firms work together to close the digital skill gap?

The moderated panel will include an exciting line-up of international experts from OECD governments, higher education institutions, large business, non-traditional training providers, and SMEs themselves – bringing their real-life experiences. All participants will have the opportunity to engage in discussion with the panellists to enhance understanding on how the digital skills gap can be closed

Download Key Highlights here

Download Agenda here

Watch live recording here

SME Digitalisation & Sustainability: The Twin Transition

 11 May 2021 10:30-11:00  Zoom Web conference

Sustainability should be at the forefront of entrepreneur’s minds as they digitise: this is the essence of the twin transition. The conversion of digitalisation and sustainability offers a long-term objective that goes beyond the immediate response to the COVID-crisis. Are SMEs aware of the potential of digital technologies to reduce resource-use and polluting? How can the SME resource constrains to greening and digitalisation be addressed? How can policies for digitalisation support sustainability? What are the priority areas for action to ensure that SMEs emerge from the pandemic more sustainable?

Download Summary Record here


2nd D4SME Roundtable

 3-4 February 2021 12:00-15:00  Zoom Web Conference

The 2nd Roundtable of the OECD Global Initiative on "Digital for SMEs" (D4SME) was chaired by Hon. Stuart Nash, Minister of Small Businesses of New Zealand and co-chaired by the Hon. Robert Troy, Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation of Ireland, and it included an exciting line-up of international experts from OECD governments, large businesses, SME associations, academia, and most importantly from SMEs themselves - bringing their real-life experiences. All participants had the opportunity to discuss directly to enhance understanding on how different types of SMEs can benefit from digitalisation and emerge from the pandemic more resilient than before. This year, the dedicated sessions were on topics of particular importance in the current landscape:

  • SMEs moving online: digital presence, e-commerce and digital security risks;
  • SMEs capabilities to access to fast and affordable digital infrastructure;
  • Digital tools to telework efficiently and increase wellbeing.

The D4SME Roundtable was also the occasion to launch the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) report The Digital Transformation of SMEs, presenting the most comprehensive and updated OECD analysis on the SME policy angle of "Digital uptake", "Digital security", "Online platforms", "Blockchain" and "Artificial Intelligence". 

Download the Key Highlights: 

Download the agenda: in English / in French

2nd D4SME Roundtable Videos

Digital Security and Data Protection for SMEs

 29 October 2020 11:00-11:30  Zoom Web conference

Emerging digital technologies are opening tremendous market opportunities for SMEs and creating entirely new industries, but, in turn, raise vulnerability to digital security risks. As small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) connect to the digital world and move towards new digital solutions, they will need to effectively manage cyber-risks to reap the benefits of the digital transition. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses have been forced to operate online than ever before, and their reliance on digital infrastructure, cloud computing and software has increased, as the intensity of cyber-attacks.  Many SMEs lack the awareness, resources or expertise to assess their digital risk exposure and to implement appropriate prevention and remediation measures which are more common among larger. The risk is particularly pronounced in sectors where SMEs tend to process significant volumes of personal – and valuable – data, such as professional services, healthcare and retail trade

Download Summary Record here


SMEs: Go Digital and Go Home

 17 June 2020 16:00-17:30  Zoom Web conference

The COVID-19 pandemic is imposing a radical rethinking of many business models. Small businesses in retail trade, manufacturing and a broad range of services, where physical presence and social contact were common practice, are now confronted with the need of delivering and doing business in a “contactless” way, or otherwise shutting down operations for the whole duration of the sanitary crisis. Digital tools offer viable solutions and many entrepreneurs are already re-engineering their business with a view to accelerating digital adoption, adapting processes, and proposing new products and/ or services, while customers and employees stay home (e.g. smart working, Online-To-Offline home deliveries, Click and Collect, etc.). 

The webinar will discuss some relevant cases of “accelerated” digitalisation and how entrepreneurs have reacted to the crisis, as well as initiatives undertaken by governments and large private sector organisations to facilitate the transition of smaller businesses – not only to weather the storm in the short term but also to engage in more long-term, sustainable changes in business practice. 

Download the agenda here

Download the Panelists List here

1st D4SME Roundtable

 29 November 2019 9:00-18:00  OECD, Room CC4

The event marked the launch of the OECD Digital for SMEs Global Initiative. The Roundtable was held in the presence of the OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurría, and chaired by Stuart Nash, Minister of Small Business of New Zealand and Chair of the D4SME initiative. Young Sun Park, Minister of SMEs and Start-ups of Korea and Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection of Ireland, acted as co-chairs.

The Roundtable brought together over 100 representatives of SMEs and tech start-ups, as well as governments, large companies, SME associations, development agencies, incubators, financial institutions, research organisations and academia. Under Chatham House Rules, participants discussed opportunities and challenges related to the digitalisation of SMEs, and the role governments can play in enabling their transformation.

Download the D4SME First Roundtable Proceedings

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1st Roundtable of the OECD Digital for SMEs Global Initiative (D4SME)

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