UNDP, CICETE and CATIS Co-host Thematic Event on Strengthening the Resilience of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises

June 27, 2023

Held simultaneously in both Beijing and Guangzhou, the event shone a spotlight on the vital role of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in achieving the SDGs and the need to strengthen their resilience amidst external shocks and turbulent environments.


27 June, Beijing – On the occasion of the 2023 UN Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) Day, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), China International Center for Economic and Technical Exchanges (CICETE) and China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) co-hosted a thematic event to highlight the vital role of MSMEs in accelerating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

With support from the Guangzhou Municipal Commerce Bureau, China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises, and Du Xiaoman Technology (Beijing) Company, the event was held in Beijing with a parallel side event in Guangzhou.

Entitled Strengthening Resilience of MSMEs to Accelerate the Implementation of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the event brought together a wide range of participants including representatives and guest speakers from government, industry associations, and academic institutions, as well as UN agencies.

Discussion centered on how to support MSMEs against a backdrop of global challenges including the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events and natural disasters, and global conflicts, all of which have significantly impacted MSMEs by disrupting business operations, supply chains, and customer relations.

“Resilience is crucial for MSMEs to be able to not just survive, but also thrive in the face of external shocks and turbulent environments,” said Beate Trankmann, UNDP Resident Representative in China. “This requires, in particular, being adaptable and innovation-driven, to respond to challenges as they arise.”

Accounting for over 90% of businesses globally, 70% of total employment, and 50% of GDP in developed economies and 40% of GDP in emerging economies, MSMEs are a critical part of local and national economies, providing livelihoods for people all around the world.   This includes, in particular, the working poor, women, youth, and groups in vulnerable situations.

“In close collaboration with the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and other United Nations agencies, the China Center for International Economic and Technological Exchanges attaches great importance to serving micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and has achieved positive results through a series of projects,” said Dr Zhang Yi, Deputy Director General of CICETE. “Moving forward, we will further enhance our cooperation to bolster the resilience and sustainable development of SMEs. This will entail providing policy advice, facilitating knowledge sharing and capacity building, promoting sustainable investment and financing, fostering international exchange and cooperation platforms, and creating an enabling environment for their development”.

During the first roundtable discussion, representatives from the UN agencies including UNWomen, ILO, FAO and international development agency GIZ shared their work and exchanged insights on strategies and approaches to building resilient MSMEs. Participants also exchanged insights on opportunities and challenges for MSMEs in China to advance the SDGs.

The second roundtable discussion focused on sharing case studies of helping to strengthen MSME resilience. Representatives from the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and Sichuan Haihui Poverty Alleviation Service Center shared their experience working with MSMEs, while MSME representatives from different counties also talked about how they led their businesses to improve adaptability in response to various challenges.
Zhang Wei, China Expert at China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS) spoke about how the digital transformation of SMEs can play a positive role in regional economic transformation. “Digital transformation can improve the innovation and international competitiveness of SMEs, promote the upgrading and development of regional economy,” said Zhang, adding that “it can help SMEs better integrate into the global value chain, expand the international market, and improve the industrial structure and economic efficiency of the region”.

During the parallel side event in Guangzhou, where MSMEs account for 54 percent of the economy of Guangdong province, women MSME entrepreneurs shared their own experiences and best practices for resilience including their use of e-commerce and discussed the practical considerations around promoting sustainable development transformation as business owners.

In addition to the roundtable discussions, a mini-expo was also held in the garden of the UN Compound in Beijing as part of the thematic event. UN agencies and associations supporting MSMEs showcased their work in helping to empower and develop local MSMEs in China.

A preliminary summary of the key findings and recommendations of research on financing for rural MSMEs was also presented during the event. The full report, being jointly produced by UNDP and the China Academy for Financial Inclusion (CAFI), will be released later this year.