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Working Group Small and Medium Enterprises

Introduction of WG-SME:

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of South Asian economies. They have the power to generate more opportunities even at adverse situation. SMEs, entrepreneurship development and innovation have become synonymous in the recent time.  The overall improvement of the SMEs plays a crucial role for the future economic development of the emerging economies

SAARC-TPN, supported with Technical Assistance by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), also focusses on the promotion of SMEs in the region among others. The SAARC-TPN is a network of 28 key public and private sector national and regional trade promoting institutions from all eight SAARC countries who through this networking platform work for the promotion of intra-regional trade.

One of the thematic working groups of SAARC-TPN, Working Group-Small and Medium Enterprises (WG-SMEs) was developed to cater the needs of SMEs of the region who are looking for an opportunity to explore business opportunities in other SAARC countries. In addition to that, the idea of this initiative is also to focus on the promotion of SMEs in general and empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

The members of the WG-SME prepared a 12-step methodology which became an overall framework of the SME operational plan. The interventions are planned and implemented as per the guidelines indicated in the methodology.

Center for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) with the support of local network partners of SAARC-TPN conducted a comprehensive research to explore and identify the potential sectors for regional value chains in all SAARC nations. The study identified sectors mainly on the basis of export prospective and national priority among others. The nominated four sectors are:

1.    Cumin seeds (from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh)
2.    Juices (from Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka to India)
3.    Citrus fruits (from Pakistan to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) and
4.    Textiles and Readymade Garments (India to Bangladesh and Bangladesh to Nepal)

Based on the findings and recommendation of the study, it was decided to further prioritize two sectors: juice (incorporating fruits and pulp) and textile with linkage to garments for next possible intervention. While selecting the two priority sectors - opportunities for regional backward/forward linkage, supply side capacities, key stakeholders of the sectors and number of countries in the region that could benefit from this initiative - were among few things that were taken into consideration.

The Programme in the next phase aims to benefit the SMEs of the selected prioritized sectors as well as the other stakeholders working for the promotion of SMEs. In the process, capacity building of the SMEs through coaching on process, technology and market linkage will be carried out. Further to that, facilitation to participate in the match-making platforms to explore business linkages will also be conducted.

WG-SME members:

Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)
Federation of Nepal Cottage and Small Industries (FNCSI)
Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME)
National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL)
Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA)
Small and Medium Enterprises Foundation (SMEF)
Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countires (CBI)

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