In the past years SMEs and entrepreneurship activity in the global economy has been marked by two global shocks. First, the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down many sectors of the economy world-wide. On its heels, Russo-Ukrainian conflict disrupted a nascent recovery. Both impacted severely and disproportionately SMEs and entrepreneurship.
In June the OECD hosted the first meeting of the OECD Committee on SMEs and Entrepreneurship (CSMEE) at Ministerial Level (Ministerial Meeting). The conference was chaired by Ms. Ginny Andersen, Minister for Police, Small Business, Digital Economy and Communications and Seniors, New Zealand. It brought together in Paris, Ministers and policy makers from OECD economies 🌍, International Organisations and international networks for SMEs. More than 200 participants attended this high-level meeting and joined the important discussions on SMEs.
Actually, this was the first Ministerial meeting on SMEs and Entrepreneurship since the upgrading of the Working Party on SMEs to Committee level (CSMEE), moving it from STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) directorate to the CFE (Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities) one, in 2021.
This timely meeting was the opportunity to discuss on strengthening the resilience of SMEs and entrepreneurs after economic shocks we lived, to foster businesses contributions to the digital and green transitions. It was a wonderful experience to exchange on different national strategies oriented on SMEs and to discuss about future-proofing policy framework for SMEs and entrepreneurs.
“Our economies need to take bold action to enhance small businesses and start-ups across international markets as well supply chains,
by facilitating and open an inclusive trade and investment environment”
[ Minister Ginny Andersen, New Zealand]
Israel’s takes an active part in the work of the OECD on SMEs
Israeli delegation to the Ministerial was led by Ms. Naomi Himeyn-Raisch – Acting director of the Israeli Small and Medium Business Agency (הסוכנות לעסקים קטנים ובינוניים ) and was then composed by :
- Mr. Haim Assaraf – Israeli Ambassador for multilateral organizations in Paris;
- Mr. Paolo Cammarota – Trade and SMEs policy officer in the Israeli Economic mission to the OECD;
- Ms. Yasmin Azhari – Digital and Science policy officer in the Israeli Economic mission to the OECD.
Israeli Head of Delegation took part in dynamic discussions and panels focusing firstly, on reskilling SMEs and entrepreneurs to drive recovery and transformation and secondly, on how to facilitate the SMEs presence in the economic environment, reducing unnecessary administrative burdens and improving the access to information at domestic level.
In addition to the fruitful conversations of the ministerial, Ms. Himeyn-Raisch participated in the breakout session dedicated to “Upskilling and reskilling SMEs and entrepreneurs to drive recovery and transformation” where she shared interesting contributions about the SMBA agency approach and how is built the training program. Furthermore, she had the role of lead speaker in the breakout session focused on “Revisiting broad-based polices from a SME and entrepreneurship lens”. During her intervention: firstly, she highlighted the need of a more inclusive multi-level dialogue (entrepreneurs – institutions – stakeholders); secondly, she pointed out the need of a “regulatory process” modernization at national and international level, in order to facilitate the economic life and growth of entrepreneurs. Finally, she showed the urgency of a digitalization process for small businesses, in order to survive to future market challenges, mentioning the Israeli experience.
Finally, the meeting in Paris represented for Israel the opportunity, on the side of the main meeting, to share successful stories of the countries and share experiences with other actors and countries about reskilling and upskilling SMEs to drive their transformation.
As an Economy that 95% of their businesses are considers small or medium sized , Israel see’s great importance of the work done by the OECD. Israel is actively represented on a regular basis in the CSMEE by Dr. Nir Ben Aaron from the Israeli Small and Medium Business Agency.
🎯 What are the outcomes ?
A collective commitment to strengthen SME resilience was adopted by officially endorsing the Declaration on Enhancing SMEs and OECD Legal Instruments Entrepreneurship Policies for Greater Resilience and Successful Green and Digital Transitions.
Started in late 2021, the discussions to build the Outlook – an important tool for the SMEs enhancing and for fostering the entrepreneurship strategy – were led by the, Small Medium Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Committee under the CFE directorate (Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities) and have been fruitful and constructive.
Launched on 28 June 2023 at the Small and Medium Enterprises ministerial meeting, the Outlook has been officialized thanks to the official declaration signed: “Declaration on Enhancing SMEs and Entrepreneurship Policies for Greater resilience and Successful Green and Digital Transitions”.
The Declaration calls on governments to adopt a more forward-looking agenda and act to enhance SME and entrepreneurs ‘resilience to future shocks and help them lead the digital and green transitions which are reshaping the economy.
Key messages of the meeting
The ministerial meeting work had the aim to analyze the consequences of the main crises we are living and to study the urgent need of the economic recovery, starting from the Small and Medium Businesses. Stakeholders are central actors in the economic strategy (interlinkages with public institutions on one side and private ones, on the other – SMEs as key actors for the economic growth and resilience. Countries joint mission with the OECD, was to provide a clear framework about the SMEs implications in the national economy. The main topics touched were:
- Resilience towards the shocks;
- Regulation and facilitation of access to the markets;
- Supporting digital transformation;
- Central importance in the national economic agenda: SMEs have a central role in the entrepreneurship growth;
- Inclusivity: SMEs as tools to guarantee inclusivity of women, indigenous communities.