Over 400 delegates representing governments, financial institutions, credit unions, diplomats and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have concluded a three-day summit on the enhancement of SMEs globally.
Under the auspices of the World Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (WUSMEs), the delegates discussed expanding the existing programs of small and medium sized enterprises, thus giving new opportunities to others in the creation of jobs and inviting more entrepreneurs. Speaking at the ceremony, Liberia's Ambassador to the BENELUX and the European Union, Isaac W. Nyenabo, said despite the enormous challenges, the provision of credit or the implementation of various lending schemes often dominate efforts to promote domestic private sector recovery in the immediate aftermath of conflicts. Representing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the summit, Nyenabo said countries emerging from protracted and devastating conflicts are often seen as needing significant external interventions in their financial markets to rebuild their private sector and promote quick and effective economic recovery. He said Liberia, like most post-conflict nations, was left with a destroyed private sector and a challenging financial system, noting that these are often the first targets of parties in conflict - both to take control of the assets and to prevent the opposition from beating them to the challenge. Ambassador Nyenabo said as the world economies are recovering from the financial crisis of 2008-2009, there is an urgent need to create employment opportunities for their citizens. In this respect, creation and growth of small and medium enterprises is an important item on the policy agenda of Liberia due to evidence that points to significant contributions by SMEs to employment. The Liberian diplomat said despite the importance of SMEs for job creation and production, most of the SMEs literatures point to the fact that small and medium firms face higher barriers to external financing than large firms, which limits their growth and development. He said many studies that use firm-level survey data demonstrate that access to finance and the cost of credit do not only pose barriers to SMEs financing, but also constrain SMEs more than large firms. Small firms find it difficult to obtain commercial bank financing, especially long-term loans for a number of reasons, including lack of collateral, difficulties in providing credit-worthiness, small cash flows, inadequate credit – history, high risk premiums. The President of the World Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (WUSME), Mr. Gian Franco Terenzi, promised to source funding for SMEs across the world as a way of creating jobs and lifting people out of poverty. Mr. Terenzi said agriculture, food production and food preservation must be placed at the top banner of the new drive for SMEs financing. He said post conflict countries and emerging economies needing jobs will have to have more SMEs for job creation and production. The summit was held under the Theme: 2016-2021-SMEs: The Engines for Economic Growth and Employment-Promoting a New Architecture for SMEs and Financing.