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Strengthening SMEs and Entrepreneurship for Productivity and Inclusive Growth

OECD 2018 Ministerial Conference on SMEs

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SMEs that grow have a considerable positive impact on employment creation, innovation, productivity growth and competitiveness. Digital technologies and global value chains offer new opportunities for SMEs to participate in the global economy, innovate and strengthen productivity. Yet SMEs are lagging behind in the digital transition and are disproportionately affected by market failures, trade barriers, policy inefficiencies and the quality of institutions. A cross-cutting approach to SME policy can enhance SME innovation and scale-up, as well as their contributions to inclusive growth. This includes a business environment conducive to risk-taking and experimentation by entrepreneurs, as well as access to entrepreneurship competencies, management and workforce skills, technology, innovation, and networks.

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Executive Summary

SMEs are key players in national economies around the world. Representing 99% of all businesses, generating about 60% of employment and between 50% and 60% of value added in the OECD area, they can play a major role in delivering growth that is more inclusive and whose benefits are shared more broadly. This is particularly relevant at a time when many countries face the challenges of low growth and productivity, along with rising or persistently high inequality. As important drivers of innovation, SMEs are also instrumental to ensure that economies and societies adapt to major transformations, such as digitalisation, globalisation, ageing and environmental pressures. To enhance the contributions of SMEs, policy should work to address the inefficiencies and barriers that may be holding back entrepreneurship and the development of small businesses, and ease SMEs’ access to resources that are strategic in a global and digitalised economy, such as financing, skills and innovation networks.

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