SME entrepreneurs can contribute to job growth and overall GDP growth, reduce the unemployment rate and contribute to national income as a whole. A strong, dynamic and efficient SME sector will ensure the sustainable, inclusive and broad-based economic and social development. The SME entrepreneurship provides opportunities for women and youth to participate in the economic development of the country.

Development of SME entrepreneurs is not easy to accomplish because several constraints have been encountered, especially in terms of the lack of capital, limited demand in the market, highly competitive environment as a result of many substitute products/services and numerous competitors, lack of access to modern technology.

In response to those existing and potential restrictions, SME entrepreneurs are often required to obtain business knowledge, marketing and management skills in combination with personal ethics and leadership competencies, and obtain adequate capital to deal proactively or actively with current trends among service based transactions where consumers have high bargaining power.

Introduction
SME entrepreneurs can contribute to job growth and overall GDP growth, reduce the  unemployment rate and contribute to national income as a whole. A strong, dynamic and efficient SME sector will ensure the sustainable, inclusive and broad-based economic and social development. The SME entrepreneurship provides opportunities for women and youth to participate in the economic development of the country.
Development of SME entrepreneurs is not easy to accomplish because several constraints have been encountered, especially in terms of the lack of capital, limited demand in the market, highly competitive environment as a result of many substitute products/services and numerous
competitors, lack of access to modern technology.
In response to those existing and potential restrictions, SME entrepreneurs are often required to obtain business knowledge, marketing and management skills in combination with personal ethics and leadership competencies, and obtain adequate capital to deal proactively or actively
with current trends among service based transactions where consumers have high bargaining power.
Goal
Develop and promote SME entrepreneurs through improving access to financing and technology, strengthening export capacities, utilization of ICT solutions, enhance capabilities to innovate and strengthen human resource development through regional programs.
Objectives

  • Enhancing internationalization of SMEs and SME Marketing capabilities
  • Improving access to finance.
  • Strengthening SME Human Resource Development and Capacity Building
  • Incubator and SME development
  • Encouragement of women and youth for SME entrepreneurships.
  • Reduction of unemployment and poverty.

Challengers
Development of SME entrepreneurs is constrained by a number of factors,

  • Lack of financial resources.
  • Lack of education and business skills result in a limited number of small business owners equipped with the skills necessary to develop a sound business plan with realistic financial statements.
  • SME entrepreneurs are unaware of available business development services, which could build their capacity to establish creditworthiness.
  • Slowness of the education and skills development to catch up with the current acceleration of economic growth.
  • Inadequacies of management and marketing.
  • Lack of skilled workers.
  • Weaknesses in external information and linkages.
  • Difficulty in coping with government regulations.
  • Inability to exploit new products because of limited organizational and marketing capabilities.
  • Reluctance to change.
  • Tendency to ignore procedures.
  • Focus on short-term requirements.
  • Lack of strategic vision.
  • Diffusion of a blame culture and scanty attention to innovation.
  • Effective strategies for successful SME entrepreneurs
  • Definite market opportunities
  • Potential team working
  • Suitable marketing entry strategiesProfitable ventures to operate.

The entrepreneurs need to research who the customers are, define strengths and weaknesses ,
spell out how particular products/services can meet customer needs, define reasonable prices
and what promotional materials are needed to attract targeted customers as w ell as where to
locate customers most easily.
To sustain the businesses, SME entrepreneurs may associate themselves with specific corporate
social responsibility (CSR) strategies, environmental and financial benefits, while achieving
business goals in order to contribute to society, as this may create good images for ventures.
Skills management and capacity building
Training and capacity building is significant to uplift SME entrepreneurs. Following activities
will be worthwhile for that criterion;

  • Advisory in technical, management and legal assistance in the areas of Industry, trade, services, etc.
  • Identify entrepreneurs capable of running independent and self sufficient industries and businesses.
  • Giving pre-investment advice and assistance.
  • Provide technical and general training assistance for women and youth.
  • Offer advance training to create women entrepreneurs of high standards.
  • Improve the standards of goods produced through research and development.
  • Provide information through the Internet and publications.
  • Provide scientific diagnosis of production problems, where all the processes involved (such as production, handling, storage, quality, marketing, sales, distribution, financial and accounting system, environment, maintenance, manpower, information system, strategic planning) should be carefully considered, and appropriate solutions should be developed.
  • Examine and provide solutions for marketing problems encountered by SME entrepreneurs.
  • Follow-up support in software implementation and development of best continuous improvement practices.
  • Provide SME entrepreneurs with complete sets of training and reference materials covering strategic planning, financial and production performance management issues and implementation of best practices.
  • Development of applications and best business practices for continuous improvement.
  • Training of SME entrepreneurs in presenting the enterprise performance improvement results to investment and credit institutions.we Introduction of IT tools for business performances.
  • Conduct sponsoring programs for economic and industrial development, trade and export facilitation, modernization, entrepreneurship and knowledge based management.
  • Develop informative brochures for SME entrepreneurs.

Training and assistance

  • Create and promote programs that can be effective guidance for business start up and development.
  • Develop entrepreneurship training programs in areas like marketing, human resources, financing and management.
  • Create financially accessible mentoring programs, favoring e-learning to give confidence, guidance and access to information.
  •  Promote internship programs to learn about other markets potential and opportunities.

Seminars

  • Invention of new business ideas and offer opportunities for SME entrepreneurs to promote their ideas among investors.
  • Introduction of new versions of financial software.
  • Explore the potentials of joint ventures and technology transfers.

Institutional guidance

  • Improve channels of information exchange in order to enable an effective way to integrate SME entrepreneurs to policy making and evaluation.
  • Allow new alternatives for continuing education, so SME entrepreneurs can have more accessible sources of information and continued training, like learning and forums.
  • Establish a wider cooperation with business circles and educational organizations.

Effective networking of SME entrepreneurs

  • Help SME entrepreneurs to build fruitful and productive business networks and links among each other.
  • Help SME entrepreneurs to gain better insight in to the present status of key business sections of tomorrow.
  • Facilitate exchange of experiences on the different ways of building business and investment relations among SME entrepreneurs, as well as learning experiences from individuals already successful and leading in the economy.
  • Educate SME entrepreneurs about technology and build an innovative spirit among them, in order to help them become more competitive in global economy.

Business incubation for development

  • Foster an entrepreneurial vision throughout university education.
  • Promote public and private business incubators that provide resources for SME entrepreneurs.
  • Support the integration of women and youth by providing equal opportunities and eliminating cultural barriers.
  • Create a permanent forum to provide the SME entrepreneurs a space for business opportunities, best practice sharing and where they can be inspired by the entrepreneurial culture.

Financing SME entrepreneurs
SME entrepreneurs should have their goals clear and have transparency in their projects and then, seek and pursue ways to financing their projects.

  • Provide grants for start up businesses.
  •  Provide loan funds specifically aimed at SME entrepreneurs.
  • Provide low cost start up loans.
  • Tax concession for SME entrepreneurs.
  • Availability of equity funds specifically aimed at SME entrepreneurs.

Role of government as support to SME entrepreneurs

  • Establish procedures allowing consultation and participation of SME entrepreneurs in decision making process for the creation of new businesses.
  • Create and promote entrepreneurs contents with proper funding and due recognition to economic development.
  • Develop a regulatory framework that enhances access to financing, information technology and markets.
  • Set business incubation centers to ensure the success of business start ups.
  • Create entrepreneur clubs where discussions of ideas can take place among entrepreneurs.
  • Promote programs in which SME entrepreneurs can learn necessary skills to create successful businesses.

Application of ICT
Information and communication technology (ICT) and e-business applications provide many benefits across a wide range of intra- and inter-firm business processes and transactions. ICT applications improve information and knowledge management inside the firm and can reduce transaction costs and increase the speed and reliability of transactions for both business-tobusiness (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) transactions.
Benefits of ICT and Internet use
ICT and e-commerce offer benefits for a wide range of business processes. ICT and its applications can make communication within the firm faster and make the management of the firm’s resources more efficient. Seamless transfer of information through shared electronic files and networked computers increases the efficiency of business processes such as documentation, data processing and other back-office functions.  Increasingly sophisticated ICT applications such as KMS (Knowledge Management System) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) allow firms to store, share and use their acquired knowledge.
At inter-firm level, the Internet and e-commerce have great potential for reducing transaction costs and increasing the speed and reliability of transactions. They can also reduce inefficiencies resulting from lack of co-ordination between firms in the value chain. Internetbased B2B interaction and real-time communication can reduce information asymmetries between buyers and suppliers and build closer relationships among trading partners. In the B2C context, the Internet and e-commerce can be effective tools for better communication. A corporate Web site that provides information on products, services or technologies can enhance the quality of a firm’s services to customers and attract new
customers. By collecting information on customers’ needs, it can be used for product development or innovation. A home page with a direct link to the corporate e-mail account provides an easy-to-access contact points.
Barriers to use ICT
Common barriers include,

  • Unsuitability for the type of business.
  • Enabling factors (availability of ICT skills, qualified personnel, network infrastructure).
  •  Cost factors (costs of ICT equipment and networks, software and re-organization, and ongoing costs).
  • Security and trust factors (security and reliability of e-commerce systems, uncertainty of payment methods, legal frameworks).

ICT Training

  • A program should be designed for SME entrepreneurs with a special emphasis on training in the use of the internet, e-mail and new management techniques.
  • Building computer and Internet literacy in SMEs.
  • Training programs for SME managers and employees focusing on both technical and managerial skills need to be provided in cooperation with business and sector organizations, training institution and commercial training services.
  • Conduct ICT and e-business awareness programs.

SME entrepreneurship for women
Women’s entrepreneurship has increasingly become recognized as an important source of employment and for potential growth. SME  entrepreneurship represents one of the most important job options for women, especially for women in developing economies. Furthermore, as women behave differently from men, their entrepreneurship provides society with different, and often innovative, solutions to management and organizational problems as well as to the exploitation of new opportunities.
However, women still represent a clear minority of SME entrepreneurs nearly everywhere. Furthermore, they generally choose to start and manage SMEs in different industries than those chosen by men. These industries, primarily retail distribution, education and other service
industries, are often perceived as contributing less to economic performance and growth than manufacturing and higher technology activities. Overall there appear to be market failures and impediments which operate to limit the extent to which women become SME entrepreneurs
and their prospects for success.
Youth involvement as SME entrepreneurs
SME entrepreneurship is a useful way to promote employment among the youth. However they need to be supported with access to  infrastructure, seed money, mentoring and other services that can enable to set up their own enterprises. Although starting a business is not the
only situation for all the youth, but it is a viable way to create employment and provide livelihoods. SME entrepreneurship is a significant step to reduce youth alienation and unemployment and alleviate poverty in an effective and sustainable way.
Society and government shall assess young SME entrepreneurs to develop their ideas, by giving them confidence and providing them financial support. Fiscal incentives are a way to  give young SME entrepreneurs a big opportunity to create new businesses and keep them in the market.
Expected Results

  • SMEs may tend to become World Class players with significantly improved performance and value added.
  •  SME entrepreneurs will receive valuable knowledge, improve their business culture and capacity for systematic and effective management of change.
  • Introduction of effective enterprises information technology tools facilitating best continuous improvement practices.
  • Significant increase of contribution, improved competitiveness and sustainability of SMEs.
  • Women and youth involvement for SME entrepreneurship.

Ability to achieve Millennium Development Goals
Through the development and promotion of SME entrepreneurs, there will be a possibility to
achieve the following goals;

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
  • Promote gender equality and empower women.
  • Develop a global partnership for development.

Conclusion
Development and promotion of SME entrepreneurs is necessary in the medium and long term. Key elements should include promoting and awareness of the opportunities of SME entrepreneurship, providing opportunities to develop enterprise skills at different levels of the education system ensuring the interest of SME entrepreneurs are represented within key membership and business support organizations, as well as by developing targeted programs to assist SME entrepreneurs to encourage any disadvantages they face once they are committed to setting and running businesses.
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