INSME’s 18th Annual Meeting took place in Baku on 1 and 2 December, co-organised by INSME member in Azerbaijan, KOBIA, and focused on “SMEs empowerment through Economic Diversification and Green Growth”.
The conference was opened by the Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, H. E. Mikayil Jabbarov, who gave a speech highlighting how micro and Small and Medium Enterprises promotion holds a crucial spot in the government’s economic policies for the Azerbaijan’s development. SMEs development and resilience against financial shocks should always be a priority, especially during economic crisis. In this regard, Azerbaijan’s 2015 government intervention and economic reform brought tax benefits, soft landing access to finance, improvement of business environment, and ease of doing business to promote SME growth. These policies further contributed to the goal of leading the country out of the dominance of the informal economy and fossil fuel income. Indeed, in 2021 the share of non-oil and gas SMEs was up to 56%, with 27% of SMEs being young employees, of which 49% women.
President Sergio Arzeni opening speech presented economic trends that could transform and play a crucial role in the future economic outcomes, outlining and reminding governments to empower and foster entrepreneurship and SMEs as a reliable recipe for a resilient and sustainable economy.
The following interventions by the speakers outlined the key role that governments must play to build and promote resilient SMEs during these challenging years. While public and private dialogues are needed to develop tailored support measures, SMEs also need a change of mindset and set their goals towards the implementation of the green and digital transitions. Following this address, other speakers pointed out the vital role of international networks and events in promoting the exchange of best practices and strong collaborations between SMEs and innovation stakeholders.