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Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which generate about 70% of jobs worldwide, are up for a challenge as research from the World Economic Forum indicates that 67% of execs see low margins and expanding to new markets and consumers as pressure points to survive the current world economy. 

The report, called Future Readiness of SMEs and Mid-Sized Companies: A Year On, was created by the World Economic Forum and the National University of Singapore Business School in collaboration with expert contributions from UnternehmerTUM, Aston Business School, TBS Education, the Aspen Institute, Asia Global Institute and the International Chamber of Commerce.

Business leaders identified their biggest challenges, with 48% of them citing talent acquisition and retention, 34% culture and values, 24% funding and access to capital, and 22% non-favorable business policy environments.

Although SMEs can up their future-readiness, a wider policy environment including infrastructure for digital trade and finance has a direct yet significant impact on their survival. It is stressed upon for policymakers, investors, and stakeholders to build the future readiness of this fraction of the economy with all the capabilities available.

Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum, expressed: “The business community is stepping up to tackle the biggest issues facing the world. SMEs and mid-sized companies are key enablers in this pursuit. This report sheds light on some key opportunity spaces for SMEs and mid-sized to do exactly that,” 

Rashimah Rajah, Professor at the National University of Singapore and co-author of the report, added his view: “SMEs and mid-sized companies have unique strengths in their ability to pivot their business models to be more future-ready and, by hiring and developing the right talent, they can mobilize positive internal and external change faster than larger companies. However, to fully realize their potential, they also need the support of policy-makers in recognizing their credentials as well as in rewarding sustainability initiatives.”

The World Economic Forum intends to advocate SMEs and aid in their future-readiness journey by implementing additional resources such as the development of the Forum’s self-assessment and benchmarking tool alongside the creation of a space for informal peer-to-peer learning and meet-ups with experts.