Empowering MSMEs for Sustainable Development: Insights from the United Nations MSME Day 2023

by Region 3 Advocate, Ngozi Bell

On June 27, as the Region 3 Advocate, I had the privilege of speak at the Medium Small and Micro Enterprise (MSME) Day at the United Nations Headquarters in NYC. This annual event, designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, aims to celebrate the vital role MSMEs, serves as the backbone of many economies. The theme for 2023, “Galvanizing MSMEs Worldwide by Supporting Women and Youth Entrepreneurship and Resilient Supply Chains,” underscores the importance of inclusive entrepreneurship and robust supply chains in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). My panel was chaired by the former Chief Counsel for the Office of Advocacy and current board chair for the International Council for Small Businesses (ICSB), Dr. Winslow Sargeant. Teri Coaxum CEO and founder of Coaxum Connect and the former Office of Advocacy Region 2 Advocate was also a speaker. A region 3 small business owner Sandra Nnebe MD, MBA, CEO of Health Vitals of Wilmington Delaware was among the many small businesses at the event.

Teri Coaxum, Winslow Sargeant, and Ngozi Bell speaking at the United Nations MSME Day 2023
(left) CEO and founder of Coaxum Connect, Teri Coaxum, (middle) Dr. Winslow Sargeant, and (right) Region 3 advocate, Ngozi Bell.

Supply Chain Issues and their Impact on the SDGs and MSMEs

MSMEs play a pivotal role in fostering sustainable development. With 90% of all global businesses falling under the MSME category, these enterprises are instrumental in creating employment, fostering innovation, and contributing to GDP growth. At the UN MSME Day, diverse gathering of attendees from national leaders to private sector representatives discussed the challenges and opportunities facing MSMEs.

Recognizing the interdependence of MSMEs and the SDGs, I explored three specific SDG goals that engage supply chains: SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), and SDG 14 (Life Below Water). These goals highlight the need for labor rights, access to capital, sustainable industrialization, and responsible fishing practices, respectively.

I noted that these SDGs simultaneously called for the investment of diverse financial resources and for regulations with compliance processes. Ironically, these regulatory requirements in turn have the potential for adverse effects on MSMEs, the very sector that the SDGs champion.

The Office of Advocacy routinely tackles regulations promulgated by the Department of Labor to represent the views of small businesses such that labor and employment regulations consider the economic impact to small businesses. In the same sense, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries regulate underwater and marine life, the Office of Advocacy requests that they consider the economic impact to small businesses.

United Nations MSME Day 2023

Dr. Winslow Sargeant speaking to MSME Day 2023 attendees.

The Office of Advocacy Amplifies the Voice of US Small Businesses

The Office of Advocacy represents small business views within the US regulatory framework, develops small business statistics, and utilizes the proximity of regional advocates in the field to aid businesses. By championing the economic impact of regulations on small businesses, Advocacy’s work encourages a healthy balance between regulatory requirements and small business growth. The Office of Advocacy’s economic research department analyzes small business challenges, opportunities, and innovations, enabling identification of business gaps and leveraging growth opportunities.

MSMEs Power The Global Economy

According to the UN, 90% of global businesses are small.

In the US, 99.9% of businesses are classified as small. These small businesses account for 48.55% of the GDP. Small businesses are responsible for 46.4% of employment in the private sector and have created 62.7% of net new jobs between 1995 and 2021. These numbers exemplify the thriving innovation ecosystem in the US and highlight the importance of supporting MSMEs.

The Path Forward Using Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration

Multi-stakeholder collaboration involving the public and private sectors, civil society, trade organizations, and other support institutions is necessary for the SDGs and the support of MSMEs. The Office of Advocacy’s model can serve as a blueprint for facilitating the SDGs and supporting MSMEs. A balanced ecosystem for MSMEs can be sustained by ensuring that the impact of regulations, adverse economic outcomes, and general concerns of MSMEs are heard and considered.

The UN MSME Day 2023 provided a platform to underscore the importance of MSMEs in achieving sustainable development. By supporting women and youth entrepreneurship, enabling resilient supply chains through SDGs, while adjusting for adverse economic impacts to MSMEs, we can empower MSMEs and build a thriving global economy. Every day should be an MSME day, and together, we can celebrate and support these vital contributors to our societies. Happy MSME Day!

To learn more about the Office of Advocacy and regulatory concerns within region 3, please email me at ngozi.bell@sba.gov.

Region 3 advocate Ngozi Bell