Prominent Ibero-American representatives and experts from the public and private sectors analyzed the impact of the pandemic on small and medium-sized companies, the measures put in place to support them during these months, the reforms needed in the future and the challenges they face, in the course of Ibero-American Dialogue of Mipymes. I thought nas Pequenas Primeiro. The forum was held completely virtual and was organized by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI), together with the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and the Ibero-American Business Council (CEIB); in association with the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (SEBRAE) and with support from the Ministry of Economy of Brazil. The event, held within the framework of the MIYPME Ibero-American Forums, had the main objective of promoting a debate on public promotion policies that support the recovery of Ibero-American MSMEs.
The session was opened by the Ibero-American Secretary General, Rebeca Grynspan; the president of the Mixed Parliamentary Front of Micro and Small Businesses of the Federal Senate, Jorginho Mello; the undersecretary for the Promotion of Micro and Small Businesses, Entrepreneurship and Crafts of the Ministry of Economy, Antônia Tallarida S. Martins; the vice president of CEOE and president of the Institute of Economic Studies, Íñigo Fernández de Mesa; the president of the Council of Micro and Small Businesses of the National Confederation of Industry-CNI, Amaro Sales de Araújo; and the president of the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service-SEBRAE, Carlos Melles. They also participated in the event, moderated by the director of Industrial Development of CNI, Carlos Eduardo Abijaodi, the Minister of Economy of Guatemala, Antonio Malouf; the general director of Industry and SMEs of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Spain, Galo Gutiérrez; and the technical director of SEBRAE, Bruno Quick.
The president of the Council of Micro and Small Companies of the National Confederation of Industry-CNI, Amaro Sales de Araújo, spoke of the intense work carried out since the beginning of the pandemic and the creation of a Council, made up of industrial SMEs to seek feasible solutions for them and favor their survival in these difficult times. Sales de Araújo emphasized the importance of undertaking adequate public policies to encourage small and medium-sized companies and foster trust in institutions and in collective work to overcome the crisis. He also mentioned the launch of the National Program to Support MSMEs, which seeks to strengthen small businesses and improve their competitiveness, a key factor in increasing their productivity. In this sense, he appealed to key factors to help these companies, alluding to proximity, better access to financing, digitization or the national guarantee system.
The undersecretary for the Promotion of Micro and Small Businesses, Entrepreneurship and Crafts of the Ministry of Economy, Antônia Tallarida S. Martins, for her part, highlighted four basic elements to improve the situation of SMEs, which are: a business environment simplified; access to credit, as it is a key factor that contributes to increased productivity; digitization and promotion of business skills; and access to new markets, both internally and externally.
The Ibero-American Secretary General, Rebeca Grynspan, assured that the title of the Forum perfectly reflects the latent reality for a long time in the Region. In fact, he stated that "SMEs are on everyone's lips, but in the hands of very few" and, if we do not think about them and support them, we will not be able to get out of the crisis. Before the pandemic, he reported, small and medium-sized companies already had serious difficulties to grow, but now their survival is also in danger, so it is urgent to take measures to safeguard it, starting by looking for solutions to the issue of labor informality and lack of access to credit. For this reason, he insisted, public-private collaboration is crucial for the aid to be effective. In his opinion, he stressed, another round of programs should be carried out for SMEs, but that not only focus on loans, but also on direct aid aimed at transformation in the medium and long term. In this regard, he mentioned four fundamental factors to provide support to SMEs, which consist of formalization, banking, digitization and access to markets. In order to carry out all this, he declared, it is important to "take advantage of the most abundant and least used resource in the Region: human talent."
The vice president of CEOE and president of the Institute of Economic Studies, Íñigo Fernández de Mesa, offered the full collaboration of both CEIB and CEOE, for the definition and development of policies and initiatives that contribute to establishing a regulatory framework that provides certainty, support the liquidity of SMEs and improve their access to finance, and avoid tax increases that further penalize companies that normally do not have as many reserves as large ones. In these lines, on June 23, 2020, small and medium-sized companies spoke, who starred, along with the sectors of innovation and digitization, education and training, in the 7th day of the Business Summit organized by CEOE under the title " Spanish Companies: Leading the Future ”. One of the most repeated messages at the table dedicated to SMEs was the need to take care of this part of the business fabric, taking into account that it is the majority in our country and is the one that makes possible most of the job creation in Spain .
In the course of this crisis generated by Covid, he explained, the need to accelerate the digitalization process, both business and Public Administration, has been highlighted, speeding up procedures and promoting the internationalization of SMEs. From the private sector and the Ibero-American governments, he concluded, “we must work together, promoting public-private collaboration (Sustainable Development Goal No. 17), to improve efficiency and quality in the provision of public services, both in the of education and health as well as infrastructure ”.
The president of the Brazilian Service to Support Micro and Small Businesses-SEBRAE, Carlos Melles, explained that the main mission of the entity is to promote competitiveness and sustainable development of smaller enterprises, fostering entrepreneurship, offering guidance to MSMEs so that they can be strengthened, and generating more jobs and development in the country. Therefore, from SEBRAE, he reported, they offer content and tools so that these companies can innovate in their business, improve administrative and financial management, expand entrepreneurship and increase the competitiveness of the company. In this sense, they have launched courses, workshops, training and consultancies to help them better understand the market and identify better opportunities.
Public development policies to support the recovery of Ibero-American MSMEs
The general director of Industry and SMEs of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain, Galo Gutiérrez, assured that SMEs are the engine of the Spanish economy, since they represent 98.9% of all companies, and generate the 65% of employment in the country. The problem they have, he pointed out, is that they generate little added value, they need to gain weight and growth to improve their competitiveness and they have a lack of access to financing. For this reason, in 2019 the Council of Ministers approved the strategic framework for SME 2030 policy, which constitutes a political framework for action by all public administrations in support of SMEs and is based on 7 axes: entrepreneurship, business management and talent, regulatory framework, financing, innovation and digitization, sustainability and internationalization.
He also highlighted the importance that the Government has given to SMEs, adopting measures that have ranged from those related to people's health to the survival of companies, through deferral of payments and ERTEs; facilitating liquidity and credit access; as well as subsidies and unemployment benefits, among others. At the European level, he referred to the "European recovery and resilience mechanism", as one of the public development policies to support the recovery of MSMEs, and whose main objectives are: to achieve a transition to a green economy and digital, with a lasting impact on growth and employment.
Guatemala's Minister of Economy, Antonio Malouf, mentioned some of the measures adopted to preserve people's lives, as well as productive activities, which have been considerably reduced during the pandemic. He agreed with the rest of the speakers by pointing out that one of the hardest aspects during the pandemic was the survival of companies, since 190,000 people were suspended from their jobs and the growth forecasts in the country went from 4% before the Covid at -2.5% after the pandemic. For this reason, he informed, they are working on a plan to promote economic recovery, which consists of three strategic axes, three transversal axes and ten lines of action. In this sense, he mentioned that the priorities are focused on creating jobs, attracting investment and promoting consumption at the national, regional and international levels. The problem of SMEs, as mentioned by other speakers is that they must improve their productivity and, for this, the National Policy of Innovation for Competitiveness has been launched, in order to strengthen and improve the skills of human capital in the country. For this reason, he considered it essential to support companies in the early stages, bringing them closer to existing markets; promote local production, through the program "My people, my product"; and continue working on policies aimed at promoting competitiveness, providing them with the necessary tools, financing and training. "It is essential to make coordinated multisectoral efforts, in order to achieve inclusive growth," he concluded.
It should also be noted in the celebration of this meeting the importance of the alliance forged between the Ibero-American General Secretariat-SEGIB and the Ibero-American Business Council-CEIB, both organizers of the Ibero-American Forums of Mipymes and the Ibero-American Business Meeting, prior to the Summit Ibero-American of Heads of State and Government. In this sense, they have carried out various initiatives and important projects, in order to promote the development of SMEs, and accompany them in the course of this crisis, among which we must highlight a map of the Ibero-American ecosystem, an index of digital maturity, and a study of public policies for digital transformation, among many other activities; and all this, with the aim of making more Region, more Latin America.