Social Fund for DevelopmentSmall and micro enterprise fair [Archives:2004/776/Community]

September 27 2004

BY Fahmia Al-Fotih
For the Yemen Times

The Social Fund for Development (SFD) last month organized a fair for small and micro enterprises (SME's). The fair was held between 21st-25th August, and took place in Asbaeen Park, Sana'a.
A number of entrepreneur's from SME's were hosted to display their products and sell directly to the public. The market aimed at giving a live picture of the importance and talents of SME's.
Many organisations were present at the fair, including many SME financing institutions. The goal was to acquaint the public with these institutions and organizations, and advertise their services, consequently, they provided information to visitors about their activities, and where possible, displayed samples of their products.
Five seminars were held to discuss microfinance, and the service it provides to owners of SME's. The seminars aimed at attracting those interested in knowing about microfinance programs, the services they provide, and the basis on which they work.
A number of people and personalities were rewarded, especially some of the distinguished borrowers from microfinance programs, who had succesfully invested the loans offered to them, personalities that have supported SME's and the best microfinance institutions were also awarded.
Small and micro enterprises are considered as a vital economic sector in many countries around the world, including developing countries. Small and micro enterprises are characterized by their capacity to generate a large numbers of job opportunities, their creativity, and their ability to rapidly adjust to market demands. SME's provide their services directly to the public, or to large enterprises, and many giant companies depend very much on them. For example, it is estimated that SME's produce 80% of the parts used by Mercedes Benz in manufacturing its cars.
In our country SME's play a very important role in the national economy, where 500,000 workers are estimated to work in this sector. SME's offer employment opportunities for increasing numbers of the unemployed, and those people of low-income.
In its development plans, targeting poverty reduction, the government of Yemen has placed SME's at the forefront of its job creation artillery. As such, the government has committed itself to supporting this important sector, overseeing its development, and it is working, through various institutions, to accomplish this mission. The Social Fund for development is one such supporting mechanism for SME's, which through the Small and Micro Enterprise Development program (which is one of the three main programs that form the Socail Fund for Development) aims to developing the small and micro enterprise sector, thereby raising income and creating job oppotrunities. SFD's strategy is centered on raising local capacity to provide financial and non-financial services to SME's.
Studies carried out by SFD have shown that SME's suffer from a large number of impediments that limit their ability to develop and contribute in large measures to the national economy. SME's in Yemen are, in general, characterized by a lack of innovation and are limited to certain sectors. This is caused by a number of reasons such as the weak infrastructure of basic services like electricity and roads, in addition to obstacles such as licensing and taxation. SME's also suffer from a lack of business development service providers such as consultants and trainers, as well as limited funding.
Despite the difficulties, SME's still represent a main employer for the workforce in Yemen, and estimates indicate that they contribute more than other sector in creating new job opportunities.