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From our foreign correspondent – issues facing SMEs worldwide

4 min read

19 September 2015

With SMEs across the globe facing many of the same issues we do here in the UK, Real Business scoured the world to find out which nations were far more alike than we once thought.

Ever wondered what issues SMEs are facing in the rest of the world? Real Business took a look at some of the most recent news stories in the global press to find SMEs facing many of the same concerns we do at home.

(1) Ghana

According to CitiFM Online, mobile phone giant Vodafone and Global Access recently teamed up to organise a financial interaction fair for SMEs in Kumasi, in the Ashanti Region. The theme of the fair was “Dreaming Ghana in the next 40 years and how it will affect SMEs,” and it was aimed at educating businesses and helping leaders and employees develop basic development skills.

Head of SME at Vodafone business solutions, Jerry Quashie, told the 2,000 delegates that they had to be “consumer satisfaction orientated”.

Dr Kwame Kwateng, lecturer at the KNUST business school, said the SMEs should give particular focus to good record-keeping for tax purposes, the provision of reliable data and adopting a “succession plan for a sustainable business”.

(2) Armenia 

The Arka News agency recently reported the findings of “The Situational and Comprehensive Monitoring of Small and Medium Businesses” study, which was conducted by the Republican Union of Employers of Armenia.

It revealed that SMEs contributed 30 per cent of Armenian GDP, however, a half said government support to the sector was “insufficient”.

Some 21 per cent of the respondents pointed out the population’s low purchasing ability as a key factor “hobbling development of businesses,” and another 23.5 per cent singled out the volatile economic situation among obstacles.

Just over half indicated the inaccessibility of financial resources and high interest rates on loans as major obstacles.

According to the survey, 52 per cent of respondents reported difficulties with receiving loans complaining also of high interest rates. They urged the government and the Central Bank of Armenia to take concrete steps to simplify loan arrangements.

Vardan Bostanjyan, an economist, warned: “Small and medium businesses are on the verge of catastrophe in Armenia, and it is necessary to find a way out of the situation.”

The government welcomed the findings but said it wanted future surveys to include more than 107 respondents! It said it was not enough businesses “to get a real and full picture of things”. This is something PR firms could certainly learn from here in the UK!

(3) Singapore 

The Straits Times reported that a marketing campaign called 99% SME had been launched to encourage the public to support smaller local firms.

SMEs can advertise businesses on the digital platform and post offers. Singaporeans are encouraged to pledge their support for local firms and to shop, dine and buy from them during SME week, which will become an annual event.

The organisers said the aim of the campaign was to “turn eyeballs to footfall”.

Senior minister of state for trade and industry Lee Yi Shyan said: “In time to come, we can have a very vibrant SME sector in Singapore, serving not just the domestic market, but through our online platforms, reach out to regional and even global customers.”

(4) Namibia 

As reported in New Era, small business owners and entrepreneurs are being urged to participate in government wealth redistribution and poverty eradication schemes. SMEs are being encouraged to help with employment creation, community economic development and skills training.