In line with the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda, world stakeholders stressed the need for governments to create a more conducive regulatory and financial framework at the country level and incentivize as well as promote education on entrepreneurship in a bid to achieve key objectives of the agenda.
Indeed, the stakeholders at a two-day event organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Financing for Development Office further advocated investments in strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem; and establishing a monitoring platform to analyze financial support given to startups and SMEs.
Specifically, best practices for entrepreneurial financing, including for women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and youth entrepreneurship, and ways to establish information and technical assistance platforms for Member States in this respect were the focus of the meeting.
The meeting brought together a range of experts, including from the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the African Development Bank, USAID, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), UN Women, the International Labour Organization (ILO), UN HABITAT, Ernst and Young, the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, Making Cents International, and Child and Youth Finance International.
According to a statement from UNIDO, Krishnan Sharma, from the Financing for Development Office at UNDESA said: “Today’s event is important in the context of the post-2015 development agenda, in particular with a view of the ongoing negotiations for the Third Financing for Development Conference”.
“Although SME financing is in large part private, there is a clear role for governments and financing mechanisms to play in order to overcome existing challenges. Efforts shall be made to reduce the risks surrounding lending to SMEs, including establishing credit information bureaus to make information on SMEs more available; undertaking legal and regulatory reforms to enhance protection of creditors; and strengthening the capacity of financial institutions in undertaking cost-effective credit evaluation.”
UNIDO Representative to the United Nations in New York, Paul Maseli, added “Entrepreneurship is crucial to increase job opportunities, shift towards more inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth, unlock innovation and technology development, and facilitate inclusive and sustainable industrial development.”
John Tucker, Deputy Director of the Financial Inclusion Practice Area at UNCDF, underlined the need for inclusive financial mechanisms to target underserved groups, such as youth and women.
Ahmad Alhendawi, the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, also highlighted the particular difficulties young entrepreneurs face when accessing financial and non-financial services, adding: “Entrepreneurship is important for employment creation in a time when 74 million young people worldwide are looking for a job.”
Participants also recognized the value of the UNIDO-led initiative on entrepreneurial finance, and agreed to establish close collaboration between key stakeholders to work on a final report and a source kit for governments, as well as to set up synergies and scaling-up to increase impact of operations at the country level.