Exchange of experience and good practices and emphases in building the National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct of Multinational Companies at the OECD were discussed at the large-scale forum, which brought together representatives of the private and public sectors from around the world.
The Bulgarian Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion Agency (BSMEPA), represented by its Executive Director Boyko Takov, took part in the general conference of Business at OECD (BIAC) – the international business network of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – with over 7 million member companies, and the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers in Hungary, which took place from 21-23 March 2022 in Budapest, Hungary.
This year’s edition focused on small business and entrepreneurship, with speakers and participants outlining areas for future development and presenting OECD best practices to facilitate the development and implementation of policies on small and medium-sized enterprises.
Participants in the conference included OECD Deputy Secretary-General Yoshiki Takeuchi, as well as speakers Lamia Kamal-Chaoui, Director of the OECD Center for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities at the OECD, Laszlo György, Secretary of Economic Strategies and Regulation at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology of Hungary, as well as Milena Angelova, Secretary-General of BIAC. On the Bulgarian side, Stefan Tchaikov also took part – a member of the Board of BICA and coordinator of the participation of the Association of Bulgarian Employers’ Organizations in BICA.
During the event, in his capacity as head of the National Contact Point for Bulgaria, Mr. Takov met with Ms. Viktória Füzesi, Secretary of the National Contact Point at the OECD in Hungary, who shared her experience in building and at the local level – a process, which our country is currently working on.
“The participation of BSMEPA in this event is more than important because we are currently working on the establishment of the National Contact Point for Responsible Business Conduct at the OECD and the opportunity to exchange experiences and receive guidance in this practice is really valuable.”
“All this is happening against the background of the negotiations for the accession of our country to the Organization and in this regard, our participation here further helps to build effective communication with a number of world organizations. Moreover, we saw really good practices that we could apply in our country”, commented Mr. Takov.
Dr. Milena Angelova in front of the OECD Business Organization: SMEs should be supported to make the transition to digitalization and climate-based neutrality through easy access to financing and improvement of the business environment
“Small and medium-sized enterprises are severely affected by ongoing crises, inflation, unprecedentedly high prices for electricity and energy, and need easy access to finance. The transition to digitalization and climate neutrality cannot be successful without the participation of SMEs, which are the fabric of the European economy. They are the engine for the development of the European economy, creating jobs and prosperity for citizens. Bureaucracy and complex legislation, both at national and European level, are still among the leading factors holding back the development of SMEs in many EU Member States.” This was stated in her speech by the Secretary-General of BICA and Vice President of SGI Europe Dr. Milena Angelova during the conference.
The discussion during the conference took place in two panels. The first allowed participants to share practices and initiatives that have been successful in improving the conditions, productivity and sustainability of SMEs. Special attention was paid to government initiatives and partnerships that have enabled SMEs to function and thrive over the last two years, marked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second panel took stock of the shared experience, identifying specific initiatives that governments could expand with the help of the OECD. The participants made their recommendations to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on how to make progress in the field of entrepreneurship in the next two years.
Many SMEs are currently struggling to overcome difficulties such as supply chain disruptions, significant labor shortages and inadequate skills, declining demand and customer revenue, rising inflation driven by an unprecedented rise in electricity and natural gas prices.
Currently, there is an increased demand for small and medium-sized companies for direct financial support and to a lesser extent for financial instruments that provide easy and quick access to bank loans and other sources of financing. “EU funding is key to increasing the potential of SMEs and it is important to plan measures to improve access to them in ongoing dialogue with business organizations and stakeholders. I strongly support the idea of SMEs applying with a one-page form for EU funds, and I hope that it will be implemented in due course. At the same time, I propose to consider the creation and development of a network of financial ombudsmen/ombudswomen in the Member States to help SMEs successfully apply for and receive funding,” said Dr. Angelova.
The network of financial ombudsmen will not only improve companies’ access to funds but will enable the European Commission to collect and analyze qualitative data to learn how intermediary banks use financial instruments to reach the companies that need the most they need funds and what are the reasons if they are not granted credit.
According to the Secretary-General of BIAC and Vice President of SGI Europe, economic recovery depends largely on how successfully SMEs will adapt and work in the new environment. Their readiness to digitize and adapt to the challenges posed by the Green Deal will also be crucial to them.
According to her, many companies do not have knowledge and understanding of specific climate and environmental policies, including the requirements of all new financial instruments. Dr. Angelova suggested that the next review of the performance of SMEs focus explicitly on the main gaps in their readiness to respond to the challenges posed by the transition to climate neutrality and how to better design and provide support measures.
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