UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe

WASME Participation in the Expert Meeting on Good Governance
for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Geneva, 22 April 2004 - The Expert Meeting on Good Governance for SMEs took place at the Palais des Nations on 1-2 April 2004, with participation by nearly 200 experts from 33 countries and 15 international organizations.

A seven-member delegation from the World Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (WASME) comprising senior office bearers and officials participated in the programme, including Ms. Mary Lou Guerrero (Gibraltar), Mr. Ovidiu Nicolescu (Romania), Mr. G. O. Asiegbu (Nigeria), Mr. O. O. Olayinka (Nigeria), Mr. Brian L. Dunsby (United Kingdom), Mr. Arun Agrawal, General Secretary, WASME and Mr. Rajeev Kapil, WASME Secretariat.

Ms. Guerrero, President of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Business, moderated the presentation on tourism development grant scheme at the 6th Forum on Best Practice in Development of SMEs in Countries in Transition: The Romanian and Slovak Experiences, Mr. Nicolescu also made presentations and Mr. Dunsby, Principal of Perlex Associates, Organizer of the ICSB WC2003 and ICSB NC2004 Conferences (United Kingdom), chaired the session on Government Policies in Non-Accession Countries and Business Ethics. Mr. Agrawal made a presentation on Good Governance for SMEs with special reference to practices in South/South-East Asian Countries.

During his presentation, Mr. Agrawal provided details of good governance practices for development of SMEs in selected Asian economies. He spoke about the Global Compact programme initiated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1999 to encourage the private sector to exercise Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER). Mr. Agrawal stated that as at September 2003, as per the Global Compact database 19 per cent of the 1,200 signatories to the Programme were SMEs. According to a survey carried out recently by UNIDO, a large majority of SMEs spent between 1-10 per cent of their turnover on special benefits to employees and on environmental conservation. This indicates that the CSER agenda is fairly well embedded in the operations of the SME signatories to the Global Compact. Mr. Agrawal, however, felt that in South/South-East Asian economies, excepting a few examples, SMEs were generally not able to link the importance of CSER to their business strategies, considering CSER instead to be more of a humanitarian effort. He, therefore, advocated the need to create greater awareness amongst SMEs on this issue. Mr. Agrawal then expressed WASME’s interest in working closely with the UNECE in heightening visibility and understanding of these concepts amongst SMEs.

In closing, Mr. Agrawal extended an invitation to all the participants to attend the 15th International Conference on SMEs to be held in Abuja, Nigeria, 19-22 July 2004. This event is being organized with the support of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Industry.

For further information, please contact:

Mr. Antal Szabó
Regional Adviser on Entrepreneurship and SMEs
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations, Bureau 440
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: + 41(0)22 917 24 71
Telefax: + 41(0)22 917 01 78
E-mail: [email protected]

Ref: ECE/IREEDD/04/N01