An action plan intended to empower the world's smallest businesses to benefit from the global economy have been endorsed by the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group today (SMEWG) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Prepared by the (SMEWG) Sub-Group on Micro-Enterprises, the "Micro-Enterprise Development Action Plan" provides an outline of work programs to be implemented by APEC Member Economies and Working Groups to address the unique needs of Micro-enterprises.
SMEWG Chair, Mr. Vivat Vinicchakul, said that as micro-enterprises account for around 74% of all registered businesses, and as much as 90% of informal trade in some APEC Economies, development of the Micro-enterprise sector is important for the APEC process.
"Micro-Enterprises are an essential part of our regional economy and cover many sectors of business activity," Mr. Vinicchakul said.
"These include small farmers, trades people and other self employed skilled workers, numerous family owned and staffed businesses and many other operations in both developed and developing economies.
"Women are also predominantly represented in the Micro-enterprise sector and have the most to gain from APEC involvement in the sector."
Mr. Vinicchakul said Globalization has presented Micro-enterprises with new opportunities but at the same time has created new challenges
"Micro-enterprises have the flexibility to market their skills and crafts direct to consumers in a very personal manner that is not possible for larger, highly structured businesses.
"New opportunities are opening for Micro-enterprises to market a greater range of skills and products as inputs to production required by larger businesses.
"Challenges for micro-enterprises include pressures to remain competitive in a trading environment that is progressively more depended on fluctuations in the global economy and changes in global demand trends.
"Micro-enterprises are also being compelled to invest greater resources to conform with a regulatory environment that is governed by increased conformance and compliance rules.
"To overcome the challenges and enjoy the opportunities, Micro-enterprises require the support of the government sector to adapt to and compete in the global economy, to access finance opportunities and incorporate new technology in their operations.
"The Micro-Enterprise Development Action Plan provides guidelines in six areas for APEC Economies and Working Groups to better promote and support Micro-Enterprises in the APEC Region.
"These areas include compiling information for policy adjustment, policy and regulatory frameworks, access to financial services, access to technology, management and marketing skills, and capacity building."
The action plan will be posted on the APEC Secretariat's Website once it has been presented to APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministers Meeting in Chiang Mai on August 7-8.
The Sub-Group on Micro-Enterprises works within the APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Working Group and was created at the request of APEC Leaders' at their meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico, in October 2002.