SMEs and Entrepreneurship


MENA-OECD Working Group on SME Policy and Entrepreneurship
Towards an inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery: support to the small business economy in the context of Covid-19

16 & 17 November | 10am - 12pm CET | Online

This virtual edition of the Working Group looked forward to the post-Covid-19 era, exchanging on how MENA economies can facilitate recovery and achieve more sustainable, resilient and inclusive economies. The discussions resulted in a more comprehensive vision of development policy through the private sector; a vision that does not consider SMEs, self-employed people and informal workers as disconnected actors subject to dissipate policy measures. The Covid-19 crisis demonstrates the relevance and interactions between those actors and the wider economy and wellbeing.

The outcomes will shape the co-operation between MENA and OECD partners for the 2021-25 phase of the MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Competitiveness. 

Read the conclusions

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) come in all different forms, from traditional crafts and retailers with very few or no paid employees, to mid-sized manufacturing firms and high-growth firms offering innovative goods, services and/or business models. At the same time, motivation to become an entrepreneur is similarly broad-ranging: some entrepreneurs take up an activity out of necessity, while others identify business opportunities or devise profitable business ideas. 

Nurturing SME development and start-ups for more diverse and inclusive economies is a complex endeavour requiring actions in several areas, including structural policies. But it also requires putting small firms and entrepreneurs at the centre of policy making by, for example, ensuring that regulations do not put undue burdens on them, or that public procurement rules do not exclude small bidders.

About the MENA-OECD Working Group on SME Policy and Entrepreneurship

The MENA-OECD Working Group on SME Policy and Entrepreneurship is co-chaired by Tunisia and Italy. The Working Group engages partners in regional dialogue and peer learning on issues pertaining to SME growth and entrepreneurship promotion.

The participants of the Working Group are policy makers from key institutions in charge of enterprise policy (such as ministries of industry and the economy), SME development agencies and investment promotion agencies. Other participants include policy makers from ministries of finance, trade, labour and education; development banks; economic research centres; and international organisations. Private enterprises and the financial sector actively participate in the Working Group and are the primary beneficiaries of the initiative.

The Working Group covers relevant topics such as:

  • improving the business climate for SMEs
  • promoting start-ups and SME growth, including among youth and women
  • facilitating access to finance
  • strengthening the legal and regulatory framework
  • increasing the availability of financing 

New idea factory flyers

 MENA SME idea factory technology 2019 flyerHarnessing digital technologies for entrepreneurs and SMEs

MENA SME idea factory women and youth 2019Leveraging technology to facilitate access to finance for young and female entrepreneurs


SME Policy Effectiveness in Jordan: User Guides (2019)
The Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa 2018 Interim Assessment of Key SME Reforms
Women's Economic Empowerment in Selected MENA Countries: The Impact of Legal Frameworks in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia (2017) 
SMEs in Libya’s Reconstruction: Preparing for a Post-Conflict Economy (2016) 
SME Policy Index: The Mediterranean Middle East and North Africa 2014   
Women in Business 2014: Accelerating Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa Region English | Arabic
New Entrepreneurs and High Performance Enterprises in the Middle East and North Africa (2013)

Related Activities

  • Training seminars on SME and competitiveness policies at the IMF Centre for Economics and Finace (CEF) in Kuwait City

Since 2012, the OECD and the Middle East Centre for Economics and Finance (CEF) of the International Monetary Fund organise annual trainings on improving policies for competitiveness, SME policies, public integrity and public procurement 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 and industrial policies, among others. 


Harnessing digital transformation for SME productivity and inclusion, 19 June 2019, Tunis
Building inclusive, resilient and competitive economies through effective SME policies, 10-11 July 2018, Tunis, Tunisia
Boosting SMEs for diversification and inclusion in the MENA region, 4-5 July 2017, Rome, Italy
Enhancing SME policies for inclusive growth, 9 March 2016, Dubai, UAE
Maximise the potential of SMEs and entrepreneurs in GCC countries, 8 March 2016, Dubai, UAE
SME Policies for Job Creation in the MENA Region, 23-24 September 2014, Paris

Contact us

For further information, please contact: [email protected]


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