Supporting small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis
Small businesses, including those run by women and young entrepreneurs, are being hit hardest by the economic fall-out of the pandemic. Unprecedented lockdown measures enacted to contain the spread of the coronavirus have resulted in supply chain disruptions and a massive drop in demand in most sectors.
To continue playing their crucial role in creating decent jobs and improving livelihoods, small businesses depend more than ever on an enabling business environment, including support for access to finance, information, and markets.
Let’s not forget that these enterprises, which generally employ fewer than 250 persons, are the backbone of most economies worldwide and play a key role in developing countries.
According to the data provided by the International Council for Small Business (ICSB), formal and informal Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) make up over 90% of all firms and account, on average, for 70% of total employment and 50% of GDP.
That is why the General Assembly declared 27 June Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day, to raise public awareness of their contribution to sustainable development and the global economy.
MSME Day 2020 – COVID-19: The Great Lockdown and its impact on Small Business
These types of enterprises are responsible for significant employment and income generation opportunities across the world and have been identified as a major driver of poverty alleviation and development.
MSMEs tend to employ a larger share of the vulnerable sectors of the workforce, such as women, youth, and people from poorer households – populations with high vulnerability in times of COVID-19. MSMEs can sometimes be the only source of employment in rural areas. As such, MSMEs as a group are the main income provider for income distribution at the “base of the pyramid”.
2020 UN Events
Smaller businesses can be agile in response to a changing world. We have seen multiple examples during the pandemic, but their size also makes them vulnerable. Access to finance is a primary obstacle. Identifying international market opportunities and navigating trade-related procedures can be harder for small businesses than for their larger competitors.
In order to find inspiration in these difficult times, the United Nations will host three special events:
24 June 14:00-15:30 CET
The International Trade Center held a special WebTV programme on 24 June, to hear from entrepreneurs from across the world, as well as from those who support small-business responses to COVID-19. The event launched the flagship “SME Competitiveness Report COVID-19: The Great Lockdown and its Impact on Small Business,” a new report packed with brand-new business impact data and unique cutting-edge analysis.R
25 June 09:00 EDT-15:00 CET
“First Responders to Societal Needs“, organized by UNCTAD, DESA, UNIDO, the Permanent Mission of Argentina, and ICSB will give the chance to meet real MSMEs. We must not only recognize the necessity and power of MSMEs worldwide, but we should also take this opportunity to really listen to them. This \includes sitting with their struggles, successes, stories, experiences, and opportunities.
25 June 12:00pm – 14:00pm EAT
MSMEs have the potential to play an integral part in Africa’s post COVID-19 economic and social recovery. This session brings together forward-looking entrepreneurs and business people to explore how we can build back better with MSMEs at the forefront and create a resilient, prosperous future for all.