An international panel explored how governments can play a key role in driving economic resilience and digitalization among small businesses during the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic.
How Does The Government Help Small Businesses
Small businesses are being disproportionately affected by the economic damage of COVID-19 — and governments need to keep up the momentum to help digitize them — according to panelists at an international webinar with representatives from the public and private sectors.
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It is estimated that small businesses employ about 70 percent of the global workforce and contribute about half of the global GDP. In less developed countries, small businesses tend to be more important to employment and GDP. But many — especially those not used to doing things digitally — are having a tough time as the pandemic continues.
The Global Government Forum and sister publication Global Government Fintech hosted the webinar titled “Planning for Recovery: How Governments Around the World Can Help Small Businesses” Build Back Better? On October 1st and with the support of our knowledge partner Mastercard.
A four-member panel explored the biggest challenges facing small businesses during the pandemic; how the public and private sectors are working together to drive economic resilience and digitalization in small businesses; and how governments can best help small businesses understand and prepare for a post-pandemic world.
“We see small businesses as the backbone of communities around the world,” Andrea Gilman, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Small and Medium Enterprises at Mastercard, told the online attendees. Mastercard announced in April that it would commit $250 million over five years to support small businesses on issues ranging from digital payments and digital storefronts to cybersecurity, and understand where they are in their own digital journey. “The pandemic is affecting this sector the most,” Gilman said, adding, “We truly believe that ‘digitalization’ will help all companies, which is why we have launched digital acceleration programs in all markets around the world.”
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Tim Ogden, general director of the Financial Access Initiative (FAI) at NYU Wagner — a think tank focused on exploring how financial services can better meet the needs of low-income families and improve the lives of low-income families — said: “There is no question that Small businesses are hardest hit by the economic impact [of the pandemic].” “Most small businesses are owned by people with below-average incomes, and they also create jobs for low-income families,” Ogden said. “It’s the lowest-income earners who are seeing the biggest drop in wages [during the pandemic].”
A government perspective was presented to the committee by Pavel Winkler, who has been Director of the Czech Ministry for Business Climate and Internal Trade – part of the Ministry of Industry and Trade since 2017. The pandemic has shown a trend towards digitization of the state and companies. “Those [companies] that operate online don’t have as many losses as those that operate the traditional way — and it shows,” Winkler said. He said his administration’s top priority is to help “family businesses,” which he described as the backbone of the Czech economy.
Other initiatives Winkler mentioned that have been introduced by the Czech government to help small businesses include: A scheme to allow small businesses to try out point-of-sale payment terminals for free for up to 12 months. a new web portal to give entrepreneurs a central point where they can directly access contacts; and a decision to designate only two days a year — January 1 and July 1 — when new laws affecting small businesses can be introduced, to try to allow business owners to keep up with administrative and legal obligations.
The fourth speaker at the webinar was Daryl Golot, Managing Director of Digital Main Street Canada, a 2016 initiative launched by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) to help small businesses make the most of digital opportunities. For example, it offers free training from its “Digital Services Squad,” which is usually made up of recent graduates.
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Of course, the pandemic has caused many small businesses to turn to the government primarily for help with support mechanisms such as wage subsidies and commercial rent assistance, Golot said. With the continued impact of COVID-19, these everyday concerns are still “very prevalent” and in fact “first, second, third, and fourth problems” for many small businesses. When all this first happened in March, entrepreneurs had a lot more [to give] Priority to digitization] – they had to deal with life.
On initiatives where governments around the world can usually invest more resources to help small businesses, Ogden suggested doing more to help companies get to market and help small business owners gain management skills. He said governments should think creatively about schemes such as tax breaks, subsidies, equity and concessional credit as well as protect small businesses from “bad actors” such as fraudulent transactions and predatory lenders.
Regarding the pandemic, he said, “we need to ask ourselves what the long-term options are, not just how we can enable small businesses to survive, say, the next six weeks.”
Gilman also noted that gender has not usually received enough attention in the debate about the impact of the pandemic on business, saying that small businesses owned by women have been disproportionately affected.
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Ogden also noted that programs that help small businesses take advantage of digital opportunities must be “inclusive.” “I get worried when I hear ‘all we have to do is get them [the small businesses] online and we’ll be fine,'” he explained, “and that’s clearly not the case.”
In response to a general question about why governments should invest in small businesses in particular, Ogden emphasized his overarching message, among other things, on their relative importance as low-income employers.
Finally, the panel – moderated by Ian Hall, Editor of Global Government Fintech – was asked to present its best recommendations to governments. Gilman stressed the importance of “digital transformation”. Golot said that governments should “explore more non-traditional partnerships – stepping out of their comfort zone a little bit”; Ogden recommended programs to provide “easy and cheap credit” by partnering with private lenders who would not be able to provide such terms without government assistance.
The FAI is about launching the Small Business Diaries project in partnership with MasterCard’s Center for Inclusive Growth to collect data on the “financial lives” of small businesses in six countries, including Ethiopia, Nigeria and Colombia.
Helping Businesses Recover
This report relates to the Global Government Forum/Global Government FinTech October 1, 2020 webinar titled “Planning for Recovery: How Governments Around the World Can Help Small Businesses ‘Build Back Better’? You can watch the entire session below: Governments Encourage All over the world small business participation in government procurement They do so directly through purchasing mandates or assignments, indirectly through policies that encourage small business participation in the procurement process, or through supportive measures that create a level playing field for small businesses to compete in The procurement process.The participation of larger small firms in the government procurement process not only benefits the small firms, but also the government and the economy as a whole.In India, the policy to enhance the participation of small firms in public procurement is focused on micro and small enterprises (MSEs).At the central government level, there are Procurement policy for small and medium enterprises of central ministries, departments and public sector units.At the state level, the policies that increase From the government SME supplier base from one country to another. This white paper presents leading international examples of promoting small business participation in public procurement, while also listing best practices for Indian states in expanding their SME supplier base. Finally, a list of 21 recommendations is given to Indian states in formulating and reformulating their procurement policies. This white paper is the first in a series of four white papers on state-level business reform in India.
Small businesses account for 90 percent of all businesses and 50 percent of all employment worldwide. In emerging markets, seven out of ten formal jobs are held by small firms. So small businesses don’t just contribute to the economy; They are the economy. In India, small businesses are categorized into micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), which are collectively referred to as the MSME sector. This differs from international measures for small and medium enterprises, which usually (not always) target small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This document refers to the broader classification of small businesses. The term MSE is used in the Indian context when referring only to micro and small enterprises. Small and Medium Enterprises is used when referring to small and medium-sized businesses. All three terms are different and refer to a separate group of small business classifications.
As elsewhere, micro, small and medium enterprises are the engines of growth of the Indian economy. It employs the largest number of people after the agricultural sector and accounts for 95 percent of the country’s industrial units and 45 percent of its industrial production. The micro, small and medium enterprise sector also generates about a third of India’s GDP, producing total output and services; Micro, small and medium enterprises also account for nearly half
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