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Boosting business buy-in to SME policy

Year/Date: 24/02/2016

Croatia

Business should take a leading role in the Small Business Act - the EU’s tool to improve SME policy and entrepreneurship. This is the key message behind a high-level meeting of business leaders in Zagreb, Croatia.

Improving the skills base of SMEs, getting business involved in the policy debate, and establishing a new regional platform to strengthen inward investment, improved business-to-business cooperation and a business angels network will also be high on the agenda.

Hosted by Luka Burilovic, President of the Croatian Chamber of Economy, the meeting brings together fellow leaders from Chambers of all EU pre-accession countries - Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo*, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia also take part.

The Chambers’ top brass is giving its full support to ETF’s work on improving SME skills in the region. This follows a recent assessment of each country’s performance on the Small Business Act, which highlights the need for business to be better engaged into the SME policy drive.

“Unless business is part of the policy conversation on SME development, efforts to improve management and vocational skills within small businesses are undermined,” says ETF’s Anthony Gribben.

The meeting includes a dedicated workshop involving SME skills experts nominated by the Chambers. The new network, supported by ETF and regional partner organisation the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, will reinforce the voice of business in next-phase developments in the region.

“With Chambers better integrated into the SBA policy drive, our objective is not only have policy improved but to see real impact through policies in areas such as youth start-ups, women’s entrepreneurship and SME internationalisation,” says Efka Heder of the South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL).

A recent SBA analysis undertaken by the ETF and SEECEL underlines the need for more support and better packaged SME training, particularly for new ventures including access to finance and follow-up mentoring. The outcomes of the SBA assessment will be published in April.

The SBA report also recommends more attention be given to women’s entrepreneurship. It must be an integral part of a country’s competitiveness agenda, the report argues.

And if SMEs are to head-off competition in the EU’s internal market, more concerted efforts are required to ensure that businesses are equipped with the regulatory knowledge, management and vocational skills to meet the challenge.

 *This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

Photo: Croatian Chamber President, Luka Burilovic.

 



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