November 21st 2009.  IX INTERNATIONAL SME CONGRESS

In view of developing and improving SMEs and entrepreneurship, Belgrade Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with Serbian SME Association (SA SME) organized IX International Congress on SMEs and entrepreneurship on November 21, 2009, in the Sava Centre. On that occasion representatives of the leading international institutions in the field of SMEs were guests of the Belgrade and Serbian business community at the Congress.

Presentations of the European best practices in the field of SMEs were held by Peter Jungen, President of the SME Union, European People’s Party, Sergio Arzeni, Director of the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and local development; Andrea Benassi, Secretary General, UEAPME (the biggest European association of SMEs, entrepreneurs and craftsmen); Christian Weinberger, DG Enterprise and Industry European Commission; as well as by the representatives of the European Parliament and French, Bulgarian, Austrian and Italian Parliaments; representatives of the Ministry of the Republic of Serbia, representatives of Belgrade City Administration, numerous republic agencies, Diplomatic core and other partners included in the programs and activities for support of the Serbian SMEEs. The Congress was also attended by 200 SMEs and entrepreneurs.

The main topics of the conference were the challenges SMEs face and the corresponding best practices in the EU. Having in mind the nature of global economic crisis, the speakers highlighted multilayer nature of the crisis and the fact that it had not affected the financial sector only, but also entrepreneurs throughout the world, who had not been responsible for its occurrence but nevertheless had became victims of the wrong business models in the financial sector. According to Mr. Frank Engel, Member of the European Parliament from Luxemburg, the SME sector was not particularly interested in trade with “exotic” financial instruments and stock exchange, SME can not influence the trends in global trade, because their business activities are mostly limited to national borders; so the conclusion is that the SME sector has become a victim of the crisis it has not provoked.

The support mechanisms have to be adjusted to specific features of the sector and needs of entrepreneurs. Such mechanisms exist and are being used in the EU countries, because the key role of small businesses in creation of new work places and in economic growth after the collapse of financial market and many industrial giants, has been recognized.

Some of the examples of good practices are as follows: recommendation of the British Government for the public sector to pay up its liabilities to private sector within 10 days after the completion of the business activity, important for the solvency of the SMEs; establishment of one-stop administrative reference points for SMEs; successful models and programs for development of modern entrepreneurial skills and education; encouragement of start-ups; innovative models for financing of small businesses - cooperatives, business angels and new forms of investment funds (green, high technology and SME funds, business angels, etc.).