A young man selling shirts on a market in Lilongwe, capital of Malawi. ©Marcel Crozet/ILO
A young man selling shirts on a market in Lilongwe, capital of Malawi. ©ILO/Marcel Crozet

Promoting the Role of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises in Achieving the Global Goals

The United Nations General Assembly designated 27 June as Micro-, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Day to raise awareness of the contribution that small businesses make to sustainable development and the global economy. MSMEs account for 90% of businesses, 60-70% of employment and 50% of GDP worldwide.  

For the last three years, the UN Office for Partnerships has played a key catalytic role as a co-convener of the annual MSME Day Global Summit held at UN Headquarters in collaboration with a range of partners, including the International Council for Small Business, the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the UN Conference on Trade and Development, the International Trade Centre, the International Labour Organization and several Member State governments. 

On MSME Day 2021, almost 18 months after the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, most countries were still grappling with the pandemic and its severe health and socio-economic impacts, including lockdowns and the need to support those who have lost their jobs and livelihoods. In many parts of the world, the pandemic recovery efforts are being presented as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ‘rebuild better’, particularly by prioritizing sustainability, resilience and inclusiveness.  

The virtual MSME Day explored how MSMEs can contribute to a fast, equitable and sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery, to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to spur innovation, creativity and decent work for all. The event and social media campaign featured global leaders and small business entrepreneurs, including women- and youth-led firms and ‘ecopreneurs’, to address challenges, showcase best practices and identify new approaches needed to ensure that MSMEs drive a sustainable and inclusive recovery.