Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The 1st COMESA Business Council SME Associations Workshop ends successfully in Cairo, Egypt- “Towards advocacy on Constraints to SMEs in the region” covering 19 countries
During the 1st CBC SME Associations Workshop held on 23- 24 April, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt, the National SME Associations and Stakeholders from the COMESA Region met and deliberated on key issues affecting the SME Sector in the region. The discussions led to Common Regional Positions by 12 out 19 SME Associations representing the Region. The positions will be presented through the COMESA Business Council to the various policy organs as recommendations to improve the business environment of SMEs in COMESA. The meeting brought together key private sector representative bodies and stakeholders of the SMEs in the region, to deliberate on key issues that have been raised during the 8th COMESA Business Forum, held last year in Kampala, Uganda, that are to feed into a proposed regional policy strategy framework for SMEs in COMESA. During the two day event, issues such as financial accessibility, preferential treatment to SMEs in public procurement, capacity building, productivity and standardization of products, encouraging indigenous trade, and branding of COMESA products, were deliberated on. The meeting concluded with a common position from the SME Community which was presented at the High Level 8th Pan African Congress for Women Entrepreneurs and SMEs, which was officially opened by Her Excellency, Dr. Zuma, the First Lady of South Africa and Chairperson of the African Union Commission in the presence of SME stakeholders from both the public and Private Sector, Ministers, respective governments and industry from over 20 countries, It is in this spirit that the SME Sector stakeholders have pledged to ensure further advocacy at the national and regional level. During the Congress, Mr. Richard Muteti from Kenya presented the SME Handbook to Dr. Amany Asfour, the President of Women Entrepreneurs of Africa and Vice Chair of the COMESA Business Council The above meeting was followed by a ballot voting process where Mr. Richard N. Muteti from the MSE Sector in Kenya was unanimously elected as the Chairman of the COMESA SMEs advocacy workgroup while Madam Penny C. Belmont the CEO of Seychelles Small Enterprise Promotion Agency was elected as the Vice Chairperson.