Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SMEs - are governments helping or hindering?

Government interventions are fact of life in every economy. These can be general in nature (functional interventions) or very specific (selective interventions). So what is the problem. It appears that governments the world over are seeking economic, and sometimes political, solutions through SMEs. SMEs have been around for a long time, and I have personally owned my own businesses since 1982. But the governments and the media act as though they have personally found/invented the SME. Everybody is making wild claims about the importance of SMEs in their economy, often without any research data to support their claims. Interventions are based on hearsay and urban legend, not good solid research. They then bombard the SMEs with a range of interventions that are often ill planned. ill designed and poorly implemented by inexperienced government functionaries. They try to put square pegs in round holes! They push SMEs into sectors that are not suited to SMEs, and they ignore advice. They try to force big business to do business with SMEs, ignoring the risk to big business, and this is particularly applicable to banks. Perhaps it is time for governments to step back and take a long hard look at the SME sector, their current interventions, and then assess what they should really be doing. Perhaps then greater success will be achieved.

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